The Art Fund is to change the format of its 2020 Museum of the Year prize to respond to the challenges of the coronavirus closures. The award money will be increased from £140,000 to £200,000, making it the world’s largest museum prize.
The other major change is that there will not be a single winner this year, but the accolade will be shared equally by five museums. This follows a recent trend in the UK to split prize money. Last autumn the Booker literary prize was given to two winners and the four shortlisted contenders for Tate’s 2019 Turner Prize requested that they all share the award. With the coronavirus crisis, the 2020 Turner Prize was cancelled and instead ten £10,000 bursaries were awarded earlier this month.
Applications for the Art Fund Museum of the Year award closed on 13 February, a month before the enforced closures. The shortlist was due to be announced in April, with the award ceremony in July. The schedule has been revised and the five winners will now be announced on 12 October.
Although judges would normally travel to the contending museums, a spokesman says that this year it will not be possible. Museums will therefore be assessed on their February pre-coronavirus applications.