Museum of Ethnography, Geneva, Switzerland

Museum of Ethnography, Geneva, Switzerland wins Emya 2017

Patrick Steel, 09.05.2017
York Art Gallery awarded special commendation
The Museum of Ethnography in Geneva, Switzerland, has won the European Museum of the Year Award (Emya) 2017.

Judges described the institution as “an excellent example of a living museum and a multicultural story open to everybody”.

They also praised its commitment to diversity, allowing it to continue ethnographical research worldwide and to plan socially engaging museum programmes in collaboration with other institutions.

York Art Gallery, which underwent an £8m redevelopment in August 2015, was the only UK museum to be shortlisted, and was awarded a certificate of special commendation.

The judges said: “The gallery has been commended for revealing the beauty and splendour of a Victorian building, fostering an intense dialogue between contemporary and traditional art, shaping and delivering a strategy for encouraging visitors to acquire new knowledge and form ideas for responsible citizenship.”

Tiger moths and memory exhibition in the project gallery at York Art Gallery

Reyahn King, the chief executive of York Museums Trust, said: “We are incredibly proud that York Art Gallery has been awarded a certificate of special commendation by a team of judges at Emya 2017.

“The certificate is prestigious recognition for the transformation which has taken place at York Art Gallery following its £8m development. This included the restoration and unveiling of a hidden Victorian roof space which created a brand new, beautiful gallery where the Centre of Ceramic Art has now been established.

“It is a fantastic achievement for the gallery and for York to have been given this recognition and we hope it will help us build on York’s growing international reputation as an exciting cultural destination.”

The Council of Europe Museum Prize, for a museum judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage, went to the Mémorial ACTe, Caribbean Centre of Expressions and Memory of the Slave Trade and Slavery, Guadeloupe, France.

The Silletto Prize for excellence in working with the local community and involving volunteers went to the Leiria Museum, Leiria, Portugal.

The Kenneth Hudson Award for recognition of the most unusual and daring achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society went to the Museum of the First President of Russia Boris Yeltsin, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The Special Commendation for Sustainability went to the Visitor Centre of the Swiss Ornithological Institute Sempach, Switzerland.

Other museums to receive a special commendation were: Museum of Confluences, Lyon, France, Muzeum Śląskie, Katowice, Poland, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Heraklion, Greece, and The Old Town, National Open-Air Museum of Urban History and Culture, Aarhus, Denmark.


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Maurice Davies
Head of Collections, Royal Academy of Arts
11.05.2017, 15:51
York Art Gallery is excellent, but I found the Geneva Museum of Ethnography just boring. There are many better new European museums that could've won.
Jonathan Gammond
Access , Wrexham County Borough Museum
09.05.2017, 23:14
I am intrigued to see that there is a museum to Boris Yeltsin in Ekaterinburg. Last saw him in the Waterstones,signing his autobiography, next door to University College London in 1990. Can't find the museum website, but have found an interesting piece on the museum and its director in the Washington Post, December 28th 2016.