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EMYA2019: the Winners

The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA), organised by the European Museum Forum (EMF), was presented on 25 May, at the 2019 Award Ceremony held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in collaboration with War Childhood Museum, winner of the Council of Europe Museum Prize  in 2018. 

The European Museum of the Year Award and the Council of Europe Museum Prize are the longest running and most prestigious museum awards in Europe.

EMF/EMYA is dedicated to promoting excellence in innovation and public quality in museum practice, encouraging networking and exchange of ideas and sustainable best practices within the sector. EMF/EMYA works within an overall framework of a commitment to citizenship, democracy and human rights, to bridging cultures and social and political borders, and to sustainability.

The results of the 2019 Awards are as follows:

The European Museum of the Year Award 2019 goes to the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave Leiden, Netherlands

The exceptional public quality of this museum results from its artful approach to communicating science.  Important and beautiful objects are interpreted using the latest technologies and the personal stories of those driven by a passion for the pursuit of knowledge.  The result is science with a human face, inspiring curiosity and amazement as well as engaging a wide public in debates on important scientific and ethical questions issues of our time.

The museum received the EMYA trophy, Mother and Child: Egg Form by Henry Moore, which it will keep for one year.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to present its Museum Prize 2019 to the Museum für Kommunikation, Bern, Switzerland

Museum für Kommunikation is awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for the creative way it promotes media literacy in the service of responsible citizenship in a functioning democracy. More than a showcase for objects, it is a laboratory for social interactions, new relationships, and creative processes and a meeting place for people of all ages to explore and discuss vital issues relating to the role of communication in contemporary culture, history, politics, and ideology.

The winner received a bronze statuette, La femme aux beaux seins by Joan Miró that it will keep for one year.

The Silletto Prize recognises excellence in working with the local community and involving volunteers.
It was awarded to the Strandingsmuseum St. George, Thorsminde, Denmark

Strandingsmuseum St. George is exemplary for its compelling storytelling, elegant presentation, and use of natural materials, but even more in its deep relationship with its local community, who have been at the heart of the creation and running of this museum.

The Kenneth Hudson Award is given in recognition of the most unusual and daring achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society.
It was awarded to the Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna, Austria

Few European museums face in depth the colonial past or address its continued legacies in the 21st century. With unique intellectual honesty, the Weltmuseum acknowledges the dilemmas embedded in its collections and strives to create a new identity as a contemporary museum that celebrates the cultural abundance of the planet and promotes respect for human rights, integration, and intercultural coexistence.

Portimão Museum Prize – Europe’s Most Welcoming Museum 2019
Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol, United Kingdom

One of people’s deepest intuitions is to know whether they are welcome. The main quality the Prize celebrates is a general, friendly atmosphere of welcome. All elements of the museum – its human qualities and physical environment – contribute to the feeling of welcome, as do events and activities in and around the museum. This prize is sponsored by the Municipality of Portimao, Portugal.

The museum’s core values are surprise, authenticity, fascination, excellence, and relevance. These are expressed in every aspect of its work, most notably in the quality of welcome provided to visitors by its highly trained and enthusiastic staff and volunteers.

Special Commendations

The following museums have received Special Commendations from EMYA 2019 Judging Panel:

Special Commendation for Sustainability 2019

World Nature Forum, Switzerland
Introduced for the first time in 2015, the prize is awarded to a museum which has demonstrated a high commitment in developing initiatives related to ecological attitudes, reducing the environmental impact and reflecting the diversity of its society, without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.
Special Commendation for Sustainability in Museums is supported by Meyvaert Glass Engineering.

World Nature Forum addresses one of the most important issues facing humanity in the 21st century – the impact of climate change. Through its excellent exhibitions, scientific projects, and education programmes, it reveals how climate change is affecting the Jungfrau-Aletsch glacier, a source of water for agriculture, not just for the Swiss Alps region but for much of Europe.

Special Commendation 2019

Muzej Apoksiomena, Croatia
Muzej Apoksiomena takes an innovative and creative approach to the display of the exceptional sculpture that it has been created to celebrate. Contrasting styles of presentation create a dramatic approach to its central treasure, which is finally revealed in all its splendour.

House of European History, Belgium
The first museum to present a pan-European story based on thorough academic research and an impressive collection of objects, House of European History raises awareness of the importance of democratic values, human rights, and diversity.  It is a new centre for a critical analysis of European history and a forum for exploring current political and social issues.

Museum Plantin-Moretus, Belgium
Museum Plantin-Moretus has succeeded in intensifying the magical atmosphere of this storied place, while integrating elements that deepen and enrich the visitor experience.  It has been transformed from a museum for ‘specialists’ into one that now also offers a high quality visitor experience for a broad public.

Moesgaard Museum, Denmark
Moesgaard Museum offers a compelling presentation of human diversity across time and space. This highly innovative museum opens new paths in storytelling by bringing an experimental approach to its remarkable collections. The result is an enjoyable and inspiring experience for visitors of all ages.

Mémorial de Verdun, France
Mémorial de Verdun engages its visitors through compelling storytelling, evocative exhibition design, and authentic First World War objects donated over the years. The stories are told from different perspectives, to inspire critical thinking not only about the past, but also about contemporary politics, the safeguarding of democracy, defending human rights, and respecting cultural differences.

Muzeum Narodowe w Szczecinie – Centrum Dialogu Przełomy, Poland
Thanks to its exemplary storytelling and community engagement, this museum succeeds in raising awareness of what happens when civilized values are abandoned, and how people can rebuild communities after such tragedy.

Muzeum Pana Tadeusza, Poland
Muzeum Pana Tadeusza is not only an excellent museum of literature, but also takes a courageous and innovative approach to making a historic document relevant to the 21st century. This museum makes an exceptional contribution to reimagining what a museum of a national treasure can achieve.