Art Fund, the UK’s national charity for art, has announced the five museums selected as finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023, the world’s largest museum prize – and two are in London.

The Natural History Museum in South Kensington and Leighton House in Kensington are in the running to win £120,000 and the crown, along with The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, The MAC in Belfast and Orkney’s Scapa Flow Museum.

The Natural History Museum is snot only a world-leading scientific research centre, it’s the most-visited indoor attraction in the UK.

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Home to one of the most important scientific collections in the world, the museum’s vision of future where both people and the planet thrive is evident in its displays, exhibitions and events programme which champion the natural world in some way.

The Resident: The Arab Hall at Leighton HouseThe Arab Hall at Leighton House (Image: Dirk Lindner)

While the museum’s 350 scientists are working hard addressing biodiversity loss and the impacts of climate change, you can enjoy a silent disco, sleepover and visit the museum after hours, peruse its many collections or take in a thought-provoking exhibition.

Leighton House used to be the studio-home of leading Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, who looked at themes of identity and cultural interactions.

A public museum since 1900, it reopened in October 2022 following a massive ‘Hidden Gem to National Treasure’ redevelopment.

Now, not only is the museum a faithful presentation of Leighton’s home and strives to bring Leighton’s collection back together, it works with contemporary artists to make work that resonates with Leighton’s; furniture made by displaced Syrian artisans and commissions from international artists.

The Resident: Find the Natural History Museum in South KensingtonFind the Natural History Museum in South Kensington (Image: Janie Airey)

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for Museum of the Year and the shortlisted museums demonstrate transformational impact, redeveloping their offers with diverse and inspiring stories at their heart and responding to vital issues of today.

The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on  July 12. In addition to the winning prize money, £15,000 will be given to each of the four other finalists, bringing the total prize money to £180,000.

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Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund said, “The five Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023 finalists are at the top of their game, offering inspirational collections and programmes for their communities, for visitors from across the UK and around the world. 

“From transformational redevelopment to community involvement to addressing the major issues of today, the shortlisted museums may operate at very different scales, but all show astonishing ambition and boundless creativity. Each is a blueprint for future innovation in museums. Visit them if you possibly can.”