News item from 2012

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Ashmolean Museum wins prize for Education and Awareness in the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2012

On 20 March The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2012 awarded the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, a prize for Education and Awareness.

The prize has been attributed to the Ashmolean’s innovative display strategy Crossing Cultures. As part of the Museum’s transformational redevelopment, which opened in 2009, the Ashmolean devised the new concept for interpreting the collections. Crossing Cultures emphasises the importance of cultural contacts. Based on the idea that objects can be understood in many different contexts, from their conventional historical settings to cross-culturally as objects with universal functions, the strategy aims to stimulate an enquiring and reflective attitude towards the cultures and civilisations that have shaped the world in which we live.

“We are delighted to have won this prestigious prize for our interpretation strategy Crossing Cultures and we very much hope to be shortlisted as one of the laureates in June. Crossing Cultures is a new approach for the museum world, which has transformed the way in which the Ashmolean’s remarkable collection is experienced and understood by visitors, providing the objects with a thought-provoking narrative. Since the new Ashmolean opened in 2009, our visitors have quadrupled to 1 million each year and we now receive the highest visitor numbers of any free museum or gallery outside of London. This is a great sign of the success of the new ways in which we present the University of Oxford’s renowned collection of art and archaeology to a growing international audience”, said Dr Christopher Brown CBE, Director, Ashmolean Museum.

Of the 28 winning projects from 15 different European countries, 6 will be named as 'grand prix' laureates as 2012’s most outstanding heritage achievements at the awards ceremony on 1 June.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of Europa Nostra. The event is under the patronage of Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, who will also be present, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission.

"Europe's cultural heritage is unique in the world. T he European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage highlights excellence in conservation, research, education, training and awareness raising, as well as dedicated service by individuals and groups. I would like to warmly congratulate this year's winners for reminding us of our wonderfully rich and varied heritage that we should never take for granted. It is in our trust for future generations," said Commissioner Vassiliou.

"I am very pleased that the European Commission is once again Europa Nostra's partner in celebrating outstanding work in the field of cultural heritage. I also wish to congratulate the Commission for having confirmed its commitment to supporting our shared objectives through the proposed 'Creative Europe' programme. European funding is vital: it boosts creativity and innovation, which helps us to bring our past alive and to safeguard our treasures for the future," added Europa Nostra’s President, Plácido Domingo.

Notes to Editors:

The Ashmolean Museum
Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum is the most significant museum of art and archaeology in the heart of Britain, and the oldest university museum in the world. Its collections are large, rich and unusually diverse, ranging from archaeology to fine and decorative arts, and from numismatics to casts of classical sculpture from the great museums of Europe, tell the story of civilisation and the aspirations of mankind from Nineveh and ancient Egypt, to the Renaissance, right up to the triumphs of twentieth century Europe. In 2009 it reopened following a £61 million redevelopment. The award-winning building, designed by Rick Mather Architects, houses 39 new galleries, including the new special exhibition galleries, a dedicated Education Centre, state-of-the-art conservation studios, and Oxford’s first roof-top restaurant. In 2011 the Museum opened 6 new galleries of Ancient Egypt and Nubia, following a second phase of redevelopment. Admission to the Museum is free. For more information visit:  

Europa Nostra is a pan-European NGO which acts as the voice of cultural heritage. It brings together and represents 250 non-governmental and non-profit organisations from more than 50 European countries, with a combined membership of at least 5 million citizens. It also counts on the support of over 150 associate public authorities and corporations and more than 1500 individual members. Its vast network of professionals and volunteers is committed to safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage for present and future generations.

The 28 winners were selected from among 226 submitted projects from 31 countries. The awards are split into four categories – conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising. Each category has its own specialist jury, composed of independent experts from across Europe. All the winners receive a plaque or trophy. The six 'grand prix' winners also receive €10,000 each. The 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards ceremony in Lisbon on 1 June is part of Europa Nostra's annual European Heritage Congress. For more information visit:  or  

2012 Award Winners (listed alphabetically by country)

Category 1 — Conservation
• Institut de Sociologie Solvay, Brussels, BELGIUM
• "Second Temple Cycle'' painted wall panels of Kunststätte Bossard, Jesteburg, GERMANY
• The Averof building - School of Architecture, National Technical University, Athens, GREECE
• Windmills of the Monastery of St John the Theologian, Chora, Patmos, GREECE
• Ancient Citadel at Aghios Andreas, Siphnos, GREECE
• The Royal Spanish College in Bologna, ITALY/SPAIN
• Liubavas Manor Watermill Museum, Vilnius, LITHUANIA
• The Portuguese Synagogue Complex, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS
• The Six Historical Organs of the Basilica of Mafra, PORTUGAL
• Golia Monastery, Iaşi, ROMANIA
• Fortifications of Pamplona, SPAIN
• Ene.térmica, National Energy Museum, Ponferrada, SPAIN
• Number 2 Blast Furnace, Sagunto, SPAIN
• Miletos Ilyas Bey Complex, Balat, TURKEY
• The Poundstock Gildhouse, Bude, Cornwall, UNITED KINGDOM
• Leighton House Museum, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Category 2 – Research
• Innovative protocol for the conservation of paintings on canvas, Paris, FRANCE
• The Augustus Botanical code of Ara Pacis, Rome, ITALY
• Restoration study for the Nolla Palace, Meliana, SPAIN

Category 3 — Dedicated service
• The Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, Athens, GREECE
• Paraschiva Kovacs, Satu Mare, Harghita county, ROMANIA
• Allianoi Initiative and Dr. Ahmet Yaras, Allianoi, TURKEY
• The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Category 4 — Education, training and awareness-raising
• The Seaweed Bank, Laesoe DENMARK
• Work and restoration expertise in the rural areas of Joensuu, FINLAND
• Teaching manual: The Fortifications of Vauban, Besançon, FRANCE
• Improve a Heritage Site - Norwegian Heritage Foundation, Vågå, NORWAY
• Crossing Cultures: Transforming the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM


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