PURPOSE AND VALUES OF EMF/EMYA
EMYA is dedicated to promoting excellence in innovation and public quality in museum practice, encouraging networking and exchange of ideas and sustainable best practices within the sector.
EMYA works within the overall framework of Council of Europe values with a commitment to promote citizenship, democracy and human rights, and sustainability, bridging cultures and social and political borders.
The different awards within the EMYA scheme reflect, represent, and emphasise different aspects and dimensions of these values.
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.
The EMYA awards frame and embed professional qualities within a set of social, humanitarian and sustainable values. The highly structured judging process roots the assessment of quality firmly in the actual, specific and concrete museum experience of each candidate for the awards and ensures the ability to discern professional quality, innovation and creativity across the vast differences in traditions, contexts and obligations, in museum types, scales and sources and size of funding.
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.
Museum candidates are either new museums, first opened to the public within the past three years, or established museums that have renewed their organisation and completed a substantial programme of modernisation and extension of their buildings and galleries.
As the museum sectors expand across Europe, and as the value and meaning of culture for citizenship, political empowerment and general wellbeing are increasingly recognized, the quality of each museum and its contributions to its society and communities becomes correspondingly significant. The European Museum of the Year Award has been given out every year since 1977, and represents the best in innovation and excellence, in new or redeveloped museums, across disciplines and scale, funding and obligations, and across the various cultural contexts of Europe.
The EMYA goes to a museum which contributes profoundly to our understanding of the world as well as to the development of new paradigms and professional standards in museums. Within a distinctive overall atmosphere, the winning museum shows creative and imaginative approaches to the production of knowledge, to interpretation, presentation and social responsibility - all from a transparent base of core values of democracy, human rights, and inter-cultural dialogue, a commitment to sustainability, a practice of inclusion and community participation, and a recognition of conflicts and the courage needed to confront them.
Within the rich economic, social and cultural diversity of its 46 member States, the Council of Europe focuses on safeguarding and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977, by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, based on the recommendations of the EMYA jury.
The Council of Europe Museum Prize is awarded to a museum that has contributed significantly to upholding human rights and democratic citizenship, to broadening knowledge and understanding of contemporary societal issues, and to bridging cultures by encouraging inter-cultural dialogue or overcoming social and political borders. The Prize aims to highlight Europe’s diverse cultural heritage and the interplay between local and European identities.
As societies are increasingly openly conflicted, politicized and polarized, the obligations grow correspondingly for museums to challenge established truths and mainstream positions, to defy power, to insist on accountability, and take transparent and ethical stands - not least pertaining to issues of social justice - that give space for or voice to contested and silenced stories.
The Kenneth Hudson Award for Institutional Courage and Professional Integrity is named in honour of the irreverent and critical perspective of Kenneth Hudson, the founder of EMYA, and is given by the European Museum Forum board to a museum, a group or an individual – not necessarily an EMYA candidate - to celebrate courageous, at times controversial, museum practices that challenge and expand common perceptions of the role and responsibilities of museums in society.
As the quest for democratic involvement and cultural participation increases in society at large, the obligations grow correspondingly for museums to meet the growing needs and expectations of their communities for direct involvement in all aspects of the museum’s planning, development, management and execution of everyday activities and special projects.
The Silletto Prize for Community Participation and Engagement is sponsored by the Silletto Trust and celebrates a deep, continuous and empowering involvement between a museum and its stakeholders, that places the museum as a point of orientation and reference at the centre of its communities, whether these be local, national, global or otherwise defined.
As the gravity of climate change and the destruction of nature continues apace and the wide-ranging implications are more directly experienced in people’s everyday lives, the obligations increase correspondingly for museums to reflect and address these urgent issues and contribute to safeguarding the future for coming generations..
The Meyvaert Museum Prize for Environmental Sustainability is sponsored by Meyvaert and goes to a museum which shows an exceptional commitment to reflecting and addressing issues of sustainability and environmental health in its collecting, documentation, displays and public programming as well as in the management of its own social, financial and physical resources.
As all areas of the world grow increasingly interdependent and intertwined, and as Europe and the individual nations and regions within Europe grow increasingly diverse, the obligations increase correspondingly for museums to include and welcome all visitors, across class, gender, race, ethnicity, age, education or other differences in background.
The Portimão Museum Prize for Welcoming, Inclusion and Belonging is sponsored by the Municipality of Portimãoand celebrates a friendly atmosphere of inclusion, where all elements of the museum, its physical environment, its human qualities, its displays and public programmes, contribute to making everyone feel they are valued and respected and belong in the museum.
Special Commendations are given to museums that have developed a new and innovative approach in specific aspects of their public service and from which other European museums can learn.
The annual EMYA conference underscores the importance of participation and dialogue in promoting the values of EMF/EMYA. Innovation and public quality in the museum sector can only be achieved by supporting those working in museums and providing them with the means to exchange experiences and ideas.
Recognising the value of having a diversity of perspectives from across the European museum network present, Chargeurs Museum Studio sponsors a number of travel bursaries for the annual conference. The grants are prioritised for staff from candidate museums who would otherwise be unable to attend and for emerging museum professionals – the next generation of innovators.