Committed to sustainability, democracy and human rights Supporting innovation and excellence in European museums

The Awards

The two main awards, the EMYA and the Council of Europe Museum Prize, have been awarded continuously since 1977. The EMYA award scheme responds to long term societal changes as well as current urgent social issues, and reflects the challenges, obligations and opportunities which museums face in the 21st century.

An average of around 45 museums apply each year, from across the 46 CoE member countries, with winners distributed across museums of all types, scales, disciplines and locations. 2020 set a record with 61 candidates.

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The Winners

Museum candidates are either new museums, first opened to the public within the past three years, or established museums that have renewed their organization and completed a substantial programme of modernization and extension of their buildings and galleries.

Over the years the EMYA scheme has developed into a series of different awards, each with their own specific profile. Discover them all.

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Kenneth Hudson

About us

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. EMYA was founded in 1977 on the principles of supporting, encouraging, awarding and showcasing excellence and innovation in the museum field, particularly in the areas conceptualised by Kenneth Hudson as ‘public quality’.

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Our stories

Taina Pieski, Director & Taija Aikio, Head of Marketing, Sámi Museum Siida

Sámi Museum Siida - The European Museum of the Year 2024

"Sámi Museum Siida, as an indigenous museum, is primarily for the Sámi people themselves. But we are extremely pleased to see how our Sámi story resonates with the entire European museum community and people around the world.

This award belongs to the entire Sámi community, its elders who have supported our work with their knowledge and skills, and the entire staff of the Sámi Museum for their heartfelt efforts. In Siida’s new main exhibition, the Sámi themselves tell their own story. Over 300 members of the Sámi community participated in the preparation of the exhibition on Sámi culture.

We want to thank also our ancestors for their strength, love and support.

We hope that this award gives us strength to continue our important repatriation work for our community. For this work, we need the support of the entire European museum community so that the artifacts of our ancestors return home to Sápmi.

We want to extend our warm congratulations for all the museums awarded at EMYA2024!

Giitu! Takkâ! Späʹsseb! Thank you!"

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Salt Museum, the winner of the Portimão Museum Prize for Welcoming, Inclusion and Belonging 2024

"How can I convey our joy for the Portimao Award at the Salt Museum? Our entire city, Messolonghi, is celebrating with us! People stop us on the street, embrace us, call us, send messages, flowers, and sweets, all conveying their excitement and pride.

This award isn’t just for a museum; it’s for the residents of an entire city. Giannis Markakis, the national representative of EMF who discovered us, all the award nominees with their presentations, the EMYA judges, past winners, the organizing city of Portimao, and all participants have enriched our experience. They’ve guided us on a path of knowledge, continuous improvement, and contribution to society.

Participating in EMYA has been a wonderful journey!"

Despina Kanelli
Manager of Salt Museum

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Our stories

Kalamaja Museum during celebrations of the Silletto Prize

Kalamaja Museum, the winner of the Silletto Prize for Community Participation and Engagement 2024

"The members of the Kalamaja Museum community are very proud and happy that their own museum has received such great recognition. It gives everybody strength and courage to go forward! The photos were taken in Kalamaja Museum during celebrations of the Silletto Prize.

Thank you again so much!"

On behalf of Kalamaja Museum and its community members, friends, partners.
Kristi Paatsi
Kalamaja Museum

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The Museum of the Home. The winner of the Meyvaert Museum Prize for Environmental Sustainability 2024

"The Museum of the Home team takes huge inspiration from this award – which speaks to our collective hope for the future, as well as celebrating past achievements. This recognition has reaffirmed our dedication to this planet we call home, as we strive to live by the values that this prize embodies.

Huge thanks and gratitude to the EMYA24 judges and Meyvaert for their valued support – and congratulations to all the change-making nominees this year."

Sonia Solicari
Director, The Museum of the Home

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Our stories

Friedrich von Bose, EMYA Judge, Germany

To be a judge involves the great opportunity and privilege to get to know many colleagues from a broad range of museums across Europe. It means learning about the outstanding work they do, how they interpret their museums’ role in society and what strategies they employ to be meaningful places for their respective communities. To visit the applicant museums and to discuss the experiences made during these visits with my fellow judges – and to hear and discuss about their insights respectively – means learning a lot on many different levels. To me, reflecting about these experiences against the background of broader museological developments and discussions is a crucial part of this process.

The collective assessment about the nominee museums also comes with a big responsibility. I see it therefore as a great honour to be able to contribute to the EMYA judging process with the experiences, assessments and professional curiosity I bring into this process. 

M. Cristina Vannini, National Correspondent, Italy

I have been part of the big EMF/EMYA family since 2004, having held most of the roles: advisor, national correspondent, board member and now, once again, national correspondent (it is almost impossible to leave EMF/EMYA once you've gotten involved!) with a deeper understanding of the meaning of this organization than I had at the beginning of my involvement.

The vision of EMF has changed over all these years, shaping upon the ideas of different Presidents and Boards, but the stated mission of founder Kenneth Hudson is still here to remind us of the central significance of public quality and innovation in the museum field.

My own personal professional growth owes much to the teachings and values of EMF, which I have tried to apply to my work as a museum consultant and lecturer in museum studies in a country where, even recently, the main concerns and policies on museums are still oriented towards conservation and less towards experience. Italy has always been underrepresented in EMYA, but the museums that have accepted the challenge have reported an extraordinary experience that has taught them to open up their views, to confront the outside world, and to establish a true dialogue with their societies and wider stakeholders to meet their mutual ends. And it is this what makes me continue to believe that the role of EMF/EMYA has a bearing in the years to come.

Hans Looijen, EMF Trustee, The Netherlands

Our identities are constantly being shaped, reshaped, and shifted, no matter if we are fine with it the way we knew it. That is all part of who we are.

Museums are key players in contributing to and providing (part of) the answers to the questions that puzzle communities throughout Europe. The way we navigate through life, pose questions, and deal with challenges—whether they concern our contested identities, diversity, human rights, sustainability, emancipation, or democracy—are all values that collide and find expression in museums, as entities and mediums that have evolved to serve as much more than just sources of inspiration and keepers of our memory.

This is why I joined the European Museum Forum: to highlight, learn from, promote, enjoy, and discuss the essential role that museums play in promoting these critical values. It is paramount that innovative European museum concepts are brought to the forefront.