Britain's National Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence were announced this week at the Museums and Heritage Show at London's Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The awards are sponsored by The Independent newspaper and Dulux, the paint company that offers a Heritage range of traditional paint colours. The awards seek to recognise the work that goes into creating world-class visitor attractions. The 2005 awards were judged by a panel of industry professionals that included: Sam Mullins, director of the London Transport Museum; Diane Lees, director of the Museum of Childhood in east London; Bernard Donoghue, director of government affairs at Visit Britain; and Greg Chamberlain, editor of New Heritage Magazine.
Among the headline prize winners was Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon, part of the National Railway Museum, which won the award for best Permanent Exhibition. Located in Co. Durham and housing the reserve collection of vehicles of the NRM in York, Locomotion has attracted 93,000 visitors since opening in September 2004. The prize for Project on a Limited Budget went to an exhibition by artist Anthony Gormley at Gloucester Cathedral. The installation, titled Field for the British Isles, comprised some 20,000 miniature clay figures arranged within the cathedral's 14th century cloisters. A total of 12 awards were announced, with other winners including University College London's Petrie Museum, the Discovery Museum in Tyne and Wear and the 'Kids in the Blitz' by Coventry Arts and Heritage. Dulwich Picture Gallery won a public vote as the nation's favourite attraction while the Crossness Engines Trust won the Conservation award.