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Ulster Museum lands top UK award

The Ulster Museum has won one of the most prestigious museums prizes in the world — the coveted UK Art Fund Prize.

At a special awards ceremony in London last Wednesday, June 30, the museum was presented with the accolade and a prize fund of £100,000.

The museum, which reopened in October 2009 following a £17.2 million revamp, faced competition from museums across England, Scotland and Wales.

Tim Cooke, director of National Museums Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted on Northern Ireland’s behalf. This is the first time in Northern Ireland’s history that a prestigious cultural prize of this nature has been awarded to an institution in the region. It is particularly humbling for us to be selected for this prize against such high calibre competition.

“This prize will encourage us as we endeavour to play a meaningful role at the heart of our changing society.”

Mr Cooke added: “The public appetite for the new space and for engagement with our collections has been huge.”

Kirsty Young, chair of the judges, said: “We were moved and invigorated by our visit to the Ulster Museum. Here is a museum that shows how much can be achieved, and one that is building a lasting legacy.

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“The transformed Ulster Museum is an emblem of the confidence and cultural rejuvenation of Northern Ireland.”

South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell said: “This award is a wonderful accomplishment and reflects the stunning transformation of the museum building itself and the invaluable cultural and educational contribution the Ulster Museum continues to make to Northern Ireland.”

Culture Minister Nelson McCausland added: “I congratulate the museum and all those involved in this competition on their commitment and creativity which has enabled the museum to win this superb award.”

The competition involved an online public vote as well as a rigorous judging process led by broadcaster Kirsty Young.

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