The UK does badly nowadays in the Eurovision Song Contest. So, either our national musical proficiency has declined, or the UK simply isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to European voting. It is something of a special surprise then that there is one European vote that the UK has won recently – when the Museum of Liverpool was awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2013. On Tuesday 23 April I was in the beautiful city of Strasbourg to collect the award, in the magnificent Palais Rohan.
We’ve won a few awards at National Museums Liverpool over the years, but none is more prestigious than this one, which is even more welcome in that it acknowledges the Museum for its role in promoting human rights, something the Council of Europe values highly. The strength of the Liverpool ‘brand’ was evident at the ceremony – Liverpool is somewhere everyone has heard of, and it’s clear that the city’s reputation as a cultural capital is growing all the time: good news when you consider that tourism is the world’s biggest industry (and employer).
The challenge for Liverpool now is to work out how best to protect, nourish and organise our cultural offer, making sure that local people get the benefit of living in such a vibrant and historic place; and that people in other countries come to see that a visit to Liverpool could be the highlight of their cultural adventures.
The aim of the Council of Europe Museum Prize is to encourage the contribution of museums to a greater understanding of the rich diversity of European Culture. The prize is determined by the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Culture, Science and Education on the basis of recommendations made by the European Museum Forum.
The Trophy is a bronze statuette by Joan Miró, 'Femme aux beaux seins' (1969) given by the artist. It will go on display at the Museum of Liverpool next week.