Museum of the Year 2012

In Awards on December 25, 2012 at 9:22 am

Now for my favourite annual award – the best museum I’ve visited for the first time in the preceding twelve months.

This year I travelled to the Dordogne region of France for a wedding and went to some of the prehistoric cave systems, with the paintings which have lasted for thousands – even tens of thousands of years. The durability of these paintings is astonishing, but I’m afraid the museums and guided tours there that we experienced are a bit shabby, so they won’t be making it into my final list.

Certainly the most eye-opening trip of the year – and possibly the decade – was our visit to North Korea in April. Again, is doesn’t seem like museology has reached Pyongyang as the few museums we visited weren’t up to much. But in the world’s most secretive state where they can’t afford to feed their people, I’ll let them off some poorly interpreted objects.
Instead, my three favourite museums this year are all chosen for the quality of the visit, as well as the museums themselves.

2012 Runner up:
The new Museum of Liverpool is a striking building, on the river and prominently displayed next to the city’s three graces.

In places this museum could be described as design over content – the interpretation of objects is much more obvious than the objects themselves – but that’s not to say it’s bad. Quite the opposite – they have created a multi-layered, multi-dimensional museum experience which is easy to access and understand. And it does was every local museum strive to do, yet rarely achieves – it celebrated its locality.

This is a truly scouse experience for a proud city and well worth a visit.

2012 winner:
My favourite museum this year is the Musee de la chasse et de la nature (the Museum of hunting and nature) in Paris.

Whether you’re a fan of blood sports or a card-carrying member of the anti-hunt lobby, there is something for you in this carefully curated and beautifully constructed installation museum in the heart of the Marais. Rather than simply telling a story of man’s interaction with nature and how he has killed plenty of things over the years, this museum takes a creative look at the interaction between animal and human. Taxidermy is displayed tastefully and humourously. Objects which may inflict pain are juxtaposed with modern art. And there’s a massive stuffed bear, which nobody can complain about.

Look out for the room of dogs, the owl room and the space devoted to hunting where the animals dominate and take precedence over the guns.

Very clever.


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