L'ETNO, Museu Valencià d'Etnologia, has been named European Museum of Year 2023 (EMYA 2023). The prize, awarded by a jury of experts sponsored by the European Museum Forum and the Council of Europe, recognises the work of an ethnology museum dedicated to the traditional and popular culture of the Valencian people.
The museum that Joan Francesc Mira founded in the Diputación de València in the early 1980s has thus reached the summit of European museums. L'ETNO is not the first ethnological museum to win an award in this competition, which has been held since 1977 and is the most prestigious in the field of European museums, but it is the first Spanish anthropology museum to win the prize. Others such as the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the MARQ in Alicante have also won it before (the former in 2000 and the latter in 2004).
The jury justified its choice by referring to the museum as an institution that "operates with a strong ethical principle and a passionate commitment... confronting the past in a courageous way". It also states that "the museum seeks to respond to the right of local communities to understand their past and to recognise their experiences. 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".
More than thirty museums have been competing since last Wednesday at the Museum of History of Barcelona (MUHBA) to defend their candidacy for the awards, in a truly international festival of European museums. The Chillida Leku, the Basque artist's magnificent exhibition space in Hernani, has also won an important award on this occasion: the Portimao prize.
The EMYA (European Museum of the Year Award) was founded in 1977 by three people closely linked to the world of museums: the British Kenneth Hudson, Richard Hoggart and John Letts, with the aim of supporting, encouraging, rewarding and showcasing excellence and innovation in the field of museums. The EMYA is part of the European Museum Forum (EMF).
The EMFF/EMYA works within a general framework of commitment to citizenship, democracy and human rights, to sustainability and to overcoming cultures and social and political boundaries. The different awards of the EMYA programme reflect, represent and emphasise different aspects and dimensions of these values. Charismatic and contemporary museums such as the Estonian National Museum (2022), the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden (2021) or the Stapferhaus in Lenzburg (2020) have been winners in previous editions.
The award is a recognition of the role of museums as the backbone and driving force of society, and the winning museum is internationally renowned, especially in Europe.