The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Council of Europe, with the aim of recognising excellence in the European museum scene and encouraging innovative processes in a museum world which still took the more traditional view to focus exclusively on collections rather than on their use for the benefit of society.
It was an adventurous initiative, with the founders generously investing their prestige and their expertise, together with a lot of time and energy for something never experienced before on this European scale.
EMYA has had a positive influence on the lives of a number of museum professionals and has brought to centre stage small museums with highly innovative contents, which otherwise would not have received recognition at the European level.
EMYA has also directed the attention of public authorities to initiatives originating in their own countries, which previously were almost neglected and not recognised at the level they deserved.
Within the EMYA scheme all museums are equal whether public or private, small or large. Whatever their subject or their nationality, they are assessed on the basis of what is considered outstanding public quality and public accessibility.
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. Through the close affiliation with the Council of Europe, EMYA is embedded in a system of values of citizenship, democracy and human rights.