European Museum Forum
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The European Museum Forum (EMF) is a museum organisation operating under the auspices of the Council of Europe. This non-profit charity registered in the United Kingdom is one of the leading organizations in Europe for developing the public quality of European museums. It has established this primary position after 35 years of providing its services.
Since 1977 the European Museum Forum organizes the annual European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA). The EMYA is awarded to museums that stand out in innovation and public quality. Museums in 47 European countries, all members of the Council of Europe, can take part in the competition if they are newly opened or have undergone modernization or expansion in the past two years.
The European Museum Forum was founded in 1977 by Kenneth Hudson, who aimed to stimulate the international interchange of ideas and to create networks of inspiration.
From the very beginning the European Museum Forum handed out two main awards: the European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) and the Council of Europe Museum Prize. It soon became apparent that the Awards were an efficient instrument for tracking and highlighting the changes in European museums. The European Museum Forum’s activity then evolved from a museum competition into a full embrace of the whole diverse range of challenges facing both the museum profession and the role of museums in a changing European society.
Over the years the European Museum Forum has observed dramatic changes in the European museum landscape - both quantitative, involving a rapid growth in the number of museums, and qualitative, affecting how museums operate and how they are perceived. The European Museum Forum has always been sensitive to those and other trends and tendencies. It was often first to pinpoint new approaches to the protection and interpretation of heritage, as well as new ways in which museums operate, before they were endorsed by intergovernmental organisations and the professional community.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, the European Museum Forum was a strong advocate of smaller museums as they played a vital role in changing museum methodology.
In the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War and fall of the Iron Curtain, the European Museum Forum played an important role in developing professional relationships between museums in Western and Eastern Europe. Post-communist countries joined the Council of Europe in the early 1990s, and this is when collaboration between the European Museum Forum and the Council of Europe became especially meaningful and intense.
From the 2000s onwards the European Museum Forum observed and encouraged new approaches in European museums working with controversial heritage, intercultural heritage or intangible heritage.
After more than 35 years the European Museum Forum continues to tune into developments in European society and to describe, interpret, recommend and advise on the implications of these changes for the museum and heritage sector.
The European Museum Forum is committed to raise the standard of museums throughout Europe. It observes developments in European museums, seeks out examples of best practice, fosters innovation and investigates the ways in which museums can best serve their communities and wider European society. In all its activities the European Museum Forum is guided by a powerful vision of a visitor-oriented museum.
Every year in May the European Museum Forum organises the European Museum of the Year Award Ceremony, as the main activity of a three-day conference to support the Award Ceremony. The specific objectives of this annual conference is to promote, at a European level, high standards of quality in the museum field, and to offer exchange of professional experiences, knowledge, contacts and information.
Furthermore, the European Museum Forum provides international workshops to bring together like minded museum professionals in a truly European setting. The organisation also participates regularly in the programmes of EU and the Council of Europe in the area of education, culture and scientific research.
Every year the European Museum Forum hands out the following two main awards:
- The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA)
- The EMYA has proved to be the longest running and most prestigious museum award in Europe and is an important occasion for promoting innovative approaches in the museum sector throughout the whole continent. The EMYA is awarded to museums that demonstrate excellence in their overall quality and that know how to attract and satisfy audiences with a unique atmosphere, imaginative interpretation and presentation, a creative approach to education and social responsibility.
- Winner of the European Museum of the Year Award 2012 is the Madinat al-Zahra Museum in Cordoba, Spain.
- The Council of Europe Museum Prize
- The Council of Europe Museum Prize is being awarded by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, from a short list of three candidates provided by the EMYA Judging Panel.
- The Council of Europe Museum Prize is awarded to museums which promote respect for human rights and democracy, aim a bridging cultures and place their collections in the European perspective. This prestigious award is intended to highlight the need to preserve and promote the European cultural heritage as a factor uniting the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. It involves recognition of the excellence displayed by the winning museums in the approach they take to museum work, while complying fully with the EMYA criteria.
- Winner of the Council of Europe Museum Prize 2012 is the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne, Germany.
Two more awards are simultaneously presented by the European Museum Forum:
- The Kenneth Hudson Award
- The Kenneth Hudson Award is given by the European Museum Forum Board of Trustees. It is awarded to a museum, person, project or a group of people who have demonstrated the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society and carries forward the spirit of Kenneth Hudson.
- The Kenneth Hudson Award 2012 went to the Glasnevin Museum in Dublin, Ireland.
- The Silletto Prize
- The Silletto Prize was introduced in 2011. It rewards the best voluntary and community involvement of museums in Europe.
- Winner of the Silletto Prize 2012 is TOPIC, the International Puppet Museum Centre in Tolosa, Spain.
The Panel of Judges, consisting of museum professionals from all over Europe, scrutinises the candidates. The Panel of Judges discusses, debates and, eventually, selects the winners.
National Correspondents provide a network of information between museums throughout Europe. They welcome news of developments and activities that may be conveyed to a wider audience through the European Museum Forum.