The Collections Award will honour the owners, curators, researchers, and conservators who preserve, augment, restore, and interpret these beautiful and significant objects.
They are looking for collections —of all shapes, sizes, and types — that tell interesting contemporary stories about how historic houses are recognising new challenges, responding to changing audiences and interests, or reimagining the composition or presentation of their contents.
Application deadline 15 April 2022
Who can enter
To be eligible for the award, entrants must:
- Be current house members of Historic Houses
- Offer some form of public access to the collection
- Be willing to host a visit by our expert judging panel if shortlisted
- Be prepared to provide images and information for magazine, press, and online coverage, and cooperate with efforts to publicise the award
What can enter
‘A collection’, for the purposes of this award, is understood to mean a meaningful grouping of artworks or objects presented as a coherent whole. The sum of contents of a historic house are not necessarily ‘a collection’ (though they may be, especially if they are given coherence through their relationship to each other, the house, or their collector/s), and a single historic house may well contain more than one ‘collection’ (for example, separate and independently significant groups of works each from a single oeuvre or lifetime).
Our panel is not looking to ‘grade’ or compare the inherent worth or quality of collections. The winner is as likely to be a set of scientific items from the Enlightenment as a gallery of Old Masters, a room of modern sculptures as a display of Regency love letters, a cabinet of flints and arrowheads as a set of fine furniture.
Instead, we’re interested in how collections – whatever they are – are being presented and re-interpreted to tell stories and how those who care for them are innovating or expanding to keep them safe, relevant, and so on.
Using an unashamedly subjective approach, we will shortlist submissions that tell a fascinating and relevant story about today – about the efforts that are being made to make the most of the collection. That story might focus on one or more of the following elements, or it might tell us something we never even imagined we’d read, but which we immediately recognise as important and exciting:
- New conservation approaches, techniques, needs, challenges, projects, or efforts
- New ways of arranging, presenting, interpreting, capturing, communicating, or organising a collection, perhaps to draw out new links or connections to people, places, stories or other objects, or to attract new audiences or respond to new or changed priorities among the public, academia, or the owners and curators
- New additions, acquisitions, returns, restorations, recoveries, rationalisations, or any other change to the composition and make-up of the collection to better preserve, protect, or enhance it
- New research, discoveries, understandings, realisations or emphases that shed new light on the academic, artistic, intellectual, historical, or social content and meaning of the collection and take forward, add to, or change its story in some way
We will never claim that the winning collection is in any way, ‘the best’. Rather, we will choose the story that we think best symbolises the incredible work being done on behalf of all our collections and helps us communicate and celebrate the totality of care and curation in Historic Houses member places.
To enter you will need to complete our simple online form, providing:
- The name and contact details of the lead individual for the application, to whom we can come if we want to take the entry further
- The name of your collection and a short (max 100 words), objective, description of what it consists of. This description will not be used for assessment purposes – it just needs to be brief and factual
- Your answer (max 1000 words) to the question ‘How have you innovated recently (in the last few years) to recogise the importance or stories of your collection, respond to new challenges or opportunities, or reimagine the way you manage or present your collection or its uses?’
- A selection of high quality images (min 10, max 100, for which you can grant Historic Houses a licence to reproduce) that convey the contents of your collection and the work you have described in your answer