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EMYA 2006: A great event for European museums in Lisbon

The European Museum of the Year Award, organised by the European Museum Forum, celebrates its 29th anniversary this year, with a Presentation Ceremony and associated activities based at various museums in Lisbon, Portugal hosted by the Pharmacy Museum and local sponsoring organisations. The 2006 Awards were announced on Saturday 13 May, during a ceremony attended by more than 200 people from 28 European countries in the Ball Room of the Ajuda Palace. The winners were announced by Sir Neil Cossons, EMF’s President and presented by the Forum’s Patron, Her Majesty Queen Fabiola of Belgium. The results of the 2006 Awards are as follows: The Micheletti Award for the most promising technical or industrial museum among the current year’s candidates goes to the Tom Tits Experiment at Södertälje in Sweden. The science centre itself was judged to be amongst the most exciting in Europe, taking into account its mission to explain basic scientific principles in a way which can be understood by a broad section of the visiting public. The addition of a nursery school on the premises has been designed to enable young children to grow up in a safe environment which is also stimulating and inspiring, where knowledge of science is absorbed in daily situations. Together with its activities for older age groups and extensive visitor facilities, and the motivation of all its staff members this award should give the museum the European attention it deserves. The Council of Europe Award, a bronze statuette by Miró, has been awarded to the Churchill Museum in London. Opened in February 2005 in part of the Cabinet War Rooms in the basement of the Treasury Building, the underground headquarters of Britain’s wartime leader, Sir Winston Churchill, it uses modern display technology to give visitors access to many aspects of Churchill’s life, career, achievements, character and personality. The museum, which presents European history over the 90 years of Churchill’s life, was felt to be exemplary in the objective picture it gives of the character of a person who was central to that history and was closely involved in post-war reconstruction through such institutions as the Council of Europe. It was praised for its use of the latest technology to draw on the extensive archives in presentations that are readily accessible to older and younger generations This award was presented at a separate ceremony at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 11 April 2006. The 2006 European Museum of the Year Award is given to CosmoCaixa Barcelona in Spain. This new museum opened in September 2004 on the site of an older museum, with a meticulously planned museological concept which transmits itself to the visitors, every aspect of the displays having been analysed in depth. Within this framework, the Director’s philosophy is that the basis of any factual presentation should be the concept of beauty, bearing in mind that beauty is also a state of mind. Beauty has been forgotten by many museums, although it is a basic human need and should be at the centre of modern museological thinking, whatever the size, resources or subject of a museum. Presentation solutions at CosmoCaixa show great creativity and intelligence. Its influence as a meeting place between science and society and as a forum for discussions in the field of museology in the field of science museums will undoubtedly spread to other kinds of museums. The geographical spread of its visitors already shows that its influence goes beyond its national borders. Specially commended • inatura – The Natural History Adventure Experience in Dornbirn, Austria • ARoS Denmark, Aarhus, Denmark • National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland These three museums received a special diploma recognising their excellence in conception, innovative approach to interpretation and attention to the needs of their visitors. During the two days of public interviews before the Ceremony, those museums which had passed the first stage of the judging each received a certificate in recognition of their innovatory achievements. The full list of these museums can be seen on the website of the European Museum Forum. The European Museum Forum: what it is and what it does The Forum is responsible to the European Museum Trust, a charity registered in the United Kingdom, and operating under the auspices of the Council of Europe. In addition to holding the European Museum of the Year Award, it organises Museum Workshops at different places in Europe, publishes a quarterly bulletin and runs an advisory and consultancy service. Its day-to-day operation is controlled by an international committee, composed of men and women influential in the museum and cultural fields and it is a wholly independent body, deriving its income from membership and entrance fees and various forms of sponsorship. It considers that its main duty is to the public, but it maintains good relations with both national and international professional organisations. The candidates for its Award are new museums, established within the past two or three years, and older museums which have been completely reorganised during the same period. It receives applications from between 50 and 60 candidates a year, all of whom receive assessment visits from members of the Forum’s judging committee, who constitute a European flying squad, which goes from country to country encouraging, comforting, criticising and offering practical advice. This is something new and unique in the museum world. So far more than 1500 museums in 40 countries have taken part in the EMYA scheme. The Forum considers itself to be European in the most profound sense of the word, a focus of cultural understanding. Its opinions are expressed in plain terms, and its aim each year, in selecting the European Museum of the Year, is to discover and publicise a museum which has succeeded outstandingly well in dealing with the problems that are facing museums everywhere, problems of imagination, money, staff morale, bureaucracy, integrity and professional pride, taste, social responsibility and planning for the future. For more information please visit www.europeanmuseumforum.org

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