The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Council of Europe, with the aim of recognising excellence in the European museum scene and encouraging innovative processes in a museum world which still took the more traditional view to focus exclusively on collections rather than on their use for the benefit of society.
It was an adventurous initiative, with the founders generously investing their prestige and their expertise, together with a lot of time and energy for something never experienced before on this European scale.
EMYA has had a positive influence on the lives of a number of museum professionals and has brought to centre stage small museums with highly innovative contents, which otherwise would not have received recognition at the European level. EMYA through the work of EMF has also directed the attention of public authorities to initiatives originating in their own countries, which previously were almost neglected and not recognised at the level they deserved.
Within the EMYA scheme all museums are equal whether public or private, small or large. Whatever their subject or their nationality, they are assessed on the basis of what is considered outstanding public quality.
EMYA has proved to be the longest running and most prestigious museum award in Europe and is an important occasion for promoting innovative approaches in the museum sector throughout the whole continent.
The EMF Judging Panel is looking for enterprise and innovation that enhances the public quality of the museum. The judges seek to identify new developments which are likely to have a significant influence in the national and international museum field.
The European Museum of the Year Award
This award goes to a museum which contributes most directly to attracting audiences and satisfying its visitors with unique atmosphere, imaginative interpretation and presentation, a creative approach to education and social responsibility.
Past winners have been both large and small museums, but all developed something which was special and changed the standards of quality in museums within Europe.
The Council of Europe Museum Prize
The Council of Europe Museum Prize is a unique award intended to highlight the need to preserve and promote the European cultural heritage as a factor uniting the Council of Europe’s 47 member states. It involves recognition of the excellence displayed by the winning museums in the approach they take to museum work, while complying fully with the EMYA criteria, and helps to give added dynamism and variety to the European museum sector.
This prestigious prize is awarded based on the recommendations of the EMYA Judging Panel, by the Committee on Culture, Science and Education of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to a museum which puts particular emphasis on a clearly understandable presentation of a European perspective, showing initiative in presenting themes of European relevance and adherence to the key values and priorities of the Council of Europe.
The Kenneth Hudson Award
This is an award in honour of the founder of EMYA. The award goes to a museum, person, project or a group of people who have demonstrated the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museum in the society and carries forward the spirit of Kenneth Hudson. The Kenneth Hudson Award winner is chosen by the EMF Board of Trustees, and is not necessarily selected from the pool of the EMYA applicants.
The Silletto Prize
This prize goes to a museum which has in the past two years demonstrated excellence in involving its local community in planning and developing museum and heritage projects or has attracted outstanding support from its work with volunteers with the goal to enhance the public quality of the museum.
A number of special awards are also given to museums that have developed a new and innovative aspect of their public service and from which other European museums can learn.