The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth has been named as one of the best visitor attractions in the UK at the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence.
The museum, which is run by Mary Rose Trust, beat tough competition across two categories and was handed awards in the Permanent Exhibition and Restoration/Conservation categories by TV personality Sue Perkins at the glittering ceremony held in central London last night (Wed 14th May).
The attraction, which opened in 2013, displays the preserved remains of Henry VIII’s sunken flagship the Mary Rose. The starboard section of the ship spent 400 years on the bed of the Solent, has now been reunited with other artefacts.
The hull had been undergoing round-the clock conservation work since it was salvaged more than 30 years earlier, before being housed in the £35million museum.
John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Museum, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the two awards last night, and value them particularly as they come from within our peer group of Museum and Heritage professionals.
“They are a fitting tribute to everyone involved in the project from those very early days till now. To have the work of our dedicated conservation and collections team be recognised in this way is enormously pleasing, reflecting their remarkable achievements. And for the new museum to receive the best permanent exhibition award is the icing on the cake after many years of planning and hardwork. I am enormously proud of the team and of everything that has been achieved. Our story continues and I am confident that the successes of last night will propel us and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to yet greater heights.”
Now celebrating its twelfth year, the annual Awards, created by The Museums + Heritage Show, recognise the leading lights of the heritage sector and celebrate excellence and innovation at museums, galleries and visitor attractions across the UK and Europe.
Among the night’s other big winners was London’s Victoria and Albert Museum which walked away with the 2014 ‘Best of the Best’ accolade.
Hundreds of sector professionals joined together at the ceremony – the ‘Oscars’ of the museums and heritage industry – to celebrate the groundbreaking achievements and spectacular projects taking place in cultural attractions over the past 12 months.
Other 2014 winners included: National Archives in the Netherlands for their Memory Palace exhibition in the International category, while the Haslemere Educational Museum was victorious in the Project on a Limited Budget category. Other winners included London’s Victoria & Albert Museum – a double winner in the Innovation category and Temporary/Touring category; National Museums Liverpool in the Educational category while London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens were named as winners in the Marketing category for their Walrus on the Move campaign.
The final accolade was awarded to the UK institution that best demonstrated a groundbreaking approach to audience engagement over the past 12 months. It was chosen by members of the Guardian Cultural Professionals Network and awarded to Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent.
Bernard Donoghue, Director, ALVA and a member of the judging panel, said: “These awards recognise the amazing achievements, creativity, innovation, hard work and utter commitment evident throughout the museums and heritage sector. The number of applications, of really impressive quality, grows year after year as the awards have become the benchmark for excellence. If you are shortlisted, let alone win one of these awards, you know you are among the best of the best”.
The winners and highly commended entries (listed below) are a reflection of the industry’s growing diversity. Each museum, cultural and heritage visitor attraction is recognised for its excellence – whether for an innovative and groundbreaking exhibition or for making a considerable achievement on the smallest of budgets.
The Awards are judged by a panel of sector experts including: Dr Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums; Bernard Donoghue, Director, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), Diane Lees, Director General, Imperial War Museums; Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of ss Great Britain and Sam Mullins, Director of the London Transport Museum.
Thank you to everyone who helped us win these awards, and hopefully the next one we’ll pick up is the Art Fund prize for Museum of the Year 2014!