Cheers! – or, as I learnt from my Estonian colleagues: terviseks, which stands for health and sex!
The event is a highlight of my professional year – and it was absolutely wonderful this year, full of exciting professionals and creative thinkers. Tampere is a small city, called the Manchester of the North for its textile industry. The industrial area founded by the Scotsman James Finlayson bears his name to this day and has been wonderfully readapted as a multifunctional cultural, cinema, restaurant, exhibition quarter. 210,000 people live in Tampere, and there are 100 museums (!!) including the only extant Lenin Museum in the world. As the Mayor of the City mentioned during an opening speech, Finland's rapid progress as a post industrial economy is founded on its profound respect for its industrial heritage, and its ability to transform them into new and inventive public places. The whole experience made for a certain self satisfied, mouth watering museum glut – for which I do not apologise.
I was overjoyed to be offered to become the UK National Correspondent for the European Museum Forum, the organisation that awards the prize annually. I walked into the Sara Hilden Modern Art Gallery in Tampere on Thursday night, a normal person – and came out two hours later honoured by the title. (The photograph above relates to a previous visit to the Gallery).
Talk about the transformative power of museums!
My role will be that of encouraging UK museums to apply for the award and generally make intelligent connections between them and the European museum network. So let’s hear it for diminished isolation of the British museum scene from our European counterparts! Terviseks!