The MAC is shortlisted for the 10th anniversary edition of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023

We have been selected as one of five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023, the world’s largest museum prize.

Art Fund annually shortlists five outstanding museums for the Museum of the Year. The 2023 edition celebrates 10 years of Art Fund Museum of the Year, a prize grounded in 50 years of history championing the UK's 2,500 museums, galleries and heritage sites. The shortlisted museums demonstrate transformational impact, redeveloping their offers with diverse and inspiring stories at their heart and shaping the response to vital issues of today.

The other four shortlisted museums are The Burrell Collection (Glasgow); Leighton House (London); Natural History Museum (London); Scapa Flow Museum (Orkney).

Chief Executive of the MAC, Anne McReynolds, welcomed the news. She said:We are delighted to be shortlisted for the Museum of the Year 2023 and to be included alongside such impressive institutions from across the UK.

The arts have a transformative role in Belfast and Northern Ireland and in the recent past, where politics have failed, the arts have stepped in and provided people with a voice and a platform.

The recognition associated with this prestigious award is critical for the MAC, and for Northern Ireland, particularly at this time.

The MAC places equal emphasis on its civic and cultural responsibility to our artists, and the communities that we serve, so this achievement is theirs as much as it is ours.

The MAC is Northern Ireland’s leading art centre and a key driver in Belfast’s social, physical and economic regeneration.

The MAC, Museum of the Year finalist, 2023 © Janie Airey Art Fund 2023

Celebrating 10 years, the MAC exists to make Northern Ireland a better place for all of its citizens by enabling people to imagine, create, enjoy, and participate in outstanding art. The MAC galleries bring major international artists to a local audience, often for the first time in Ireland, whilst also positioning Northern Irish artists within an international context.

Alongside its role as a leading arts institution, the MAC places equal emphasis on its civic and cultural responsibility to the people of Northern Ireland, demonstrated through its MACtivate programme. This programme brings together a network of Associate Partners who work with some of the most marginalised people in society, enabling the museum to reach far beyond traditional arts audiences and ensuring that the MAC’s work reflects the interests and concerns of all communities. The MAC has worked with its partners to raise awareness of the housing crisis in Northern Ireland, commissioned artists to create works that campaign for the well-being of LGBTQIA+ people and advocated on behalf of reproductive rights organisations in Northern Ireland.

The MAC, Museum of the Year finalist, 2023 © Melissa Gordon

The winning museum will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on 12 July and will receive £120,000, specially increased for 2023 and beyond to mark 120 years of Art Fund supporting museums. £15,000 will be given to each of the four other finalists – bringing the total prize money to £180,000.

The 2023 judging panel, chaired by Art Fund director Jenny Waldman, includes: Larry Achiampong, artist; Mary Beard, historian and broadcaster; Abadesi Osunsade, Art Fund Trustee, author and owner of Hustle Crew, and Laura Pye, Director, National Museums Liverpool. The judges will visit each of the finalists to help inform their decision-making, while each museum will make the most of being shortlisted over the summer through events and activities for both new and current visitors.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund said: “Congratulations to The MAC on being shortlisted for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023. All five of our finalists are at the top of their game, offering inspirational collections and programmes for their communities and for visitors from across the UK and around the world. From transformational redevelopment to community involvement to addressing the major issues of today, the shortlisted museums may operate at very different scales, but all show astonishing ambition and boundless creativity. Each is a blueprint for future innovation in museums. Visit them if you possibly can.”


The MAC, Museum of the Year finalist, 2023 © Janie Airey Art Fund 2023

Watch this short film by Art Fund about why the MAC has been shortlisted for this prestigious award.