View of gallery interior, showing modern sculpture

Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 – audio descriptive introductions to the finalists

VocalEyes are pleased to partner with Art Fund for a fourth consecutive year, to work with the five finalists in the running for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 – the world’s largest and most prestigious prize for museums. The shortlisted museums for 2017 are: The Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham; The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket; Sir John Soane’s Museum, London; Tate Modern, London; and The Hepworth Wakefield.

The aim of the prize is to champion the work of museums, recognise what makes an exceptional museum, and encourage more people to visit them. Previous winners have included the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in 2016, and The Whitworth, Manchester, in 2015.  This year the winning museum, which will receive £100,000, will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum on Wednesday 5 July 2017. In addition, for the first time, the other shortlisted museums will receive £10,000 each in recognition of their achievements.

VocalEyes has worked with each finalist to create an audio descriptive introduction. These recorded guides highlight the museums’ achievements, detail how to access the museums, outline their provision for blind and partially sighted visitors, and include descriptions of the architecture and layout of the sites. The recordings are available in a playlist at the bottom of this page, and on SoundCloud.

In addition, VocalEyes offered each museum a choice of collaborative projects, in order to support them in becoming more accessible for blind and partially sighted visitors. Projects taking place include: visual awareness training, in order to equip museum staff with the skills to communicate with and guide visitors with sight loss, at their venue; visitor experience auditing, whereby all aspects of the visitor journey, from a website visit to locating an exhibition, are assessed for their accessibility, followed by suggestions for improvements; and audience advocacy workshops, to support the museum in reaching and retaining a blind and partially sighted audience.

The jury for this year’s award, chaired by Art Fund’s Director Dr Stephen Deuchar CBE, comprises sculptor Professor Richard Deacon CBE; Director of the British Museum Dr Hartwig Fischer; arts and philanthropy advisor Munira Mirza; and broadcaster Jo Whiley.

Speaking on behalf of the jury, Stephen Deuchar said: ‘Each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors. Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and news ways of seeing and understanding their collections’.

Visitors to the five finalists can share their best museum stories, reviews, photos, memories and moments using @artfund #museumoftheyear

For further information about the finalist museums and the Art Fund, visit the Art Fund website.

Photo credit: The Hepworth Wakefield © Marc Atkins

Audio playlist