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Take the train … to see the contenders for ‘Museum of the Year’

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This month, the long list for the Art Fund Prize 2012 was announced. Take the train and visit the ten contenders to see which one you think deserves the accolade of ‘Museum of the Year’ and the £100,000 prize.

And make sure you’re a winner when it comes to saving money by checking our journey planner for cheap train tickets too.

Take the train to Bletchley…

…and visit Bletchley Park. This beautiful mansion became the home of the Government Code and Cypher School in 1939, and it was here that British cryptographers broke the German Enigma and Lorenz codes, as well as many other ciphers.

Now a museum, Bletchley Park is packed with exhibits relating to cryptography, and is also home to the National Museum of Computing. It has been nominated for the 2012 Art Fund Prize for its ‘The Life and Works of Alan Turing’ exhibition, which features a range of recently discovered documents relating to Alan Turing (1912 – 1954), the mathematician and cryptographer.

Bletchley Park is just a short walk from Bletchley Railway Station, and you can take trains to Bletchley from London, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Birmingham, Bedford and other UK destinations.

Take the train to Wakefield…

…and visit the Hepworth Wakefield. Opened in May 20122, this stunning contemporary gallery is named after Wakefield- born artist Barbara Hepworth, and it’s currently the largest purpose-built exhibition space outside of London.

The gallery’s permanent collection includes: Wakefield’s Collection, which consists of more than 5,000 art works, including works by Henry Moore, Patrick Heron and Paul Nash; the Gott Collection, which includes more than 1,200 images of Yorkshire; and the Hepworth Family Gift, which features prototype sculptures and screen prints by Barbara Hepworth.

The Hepworth Wakefield is just 20 minutes’ walk from the city’s Westgate Railway Station and 10 minutes’ walk from Kirkgate Station, so it’s simple to get to when you take the train to Wakefield.

Take the train to Bath…

…and visit the Holburne Museum. This recently refurbished art gallery, housed in a beautiful 18th century building, now features a new contemporary extension, which has doubled its exhibition space.

Designed to hold more than 4,000 objects, books and pictures formerly owned by Sir Thomas William Holburne, the gallery’s collection now also includes works by Gainsborough, Turner, Stubbs and more.

This fascinating gallery is just 15 minutes’ walk from Bath Railway Station, so it’s easy to reach.

Take the train to Bristol…

…and visit M Shed. Formerly home to the Bristol Industrial Museum, M Shed re-opened in 2011 and is now a contemporary interactive museum, featuring exhibits tracing the history of the city and people of Bristol.

The museum has three permanent collection galleries – Bristol Places, Bristol People and Bristol Life – as well as a state-of-the-art exhibition gallery for temporary shows. It also has a collection of working exhibits on the dockside, including the Mayflower steam tug and Pyronaut, a 1930s fire boat.

If you’re taking the train to Bristol, you can make your trip from Bristol Temple Meads Station to M Shed part of your day out too, by taking the ferry to the museum.

Take the train to Edinburgh…

…and visit the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Museum of Scotland. The Scottish capital is home to two of this year’s Art Fund Prize contenders, so jump aboard a train to Edinburgh and you can enjoy a culture-packed day out.

The National Galleries of Scotland is a single organisation consisting of three Edinburgh galleries. But it’s the recently renovated Scottish Portrait Gallery, which now has 60% more gallery space, which has been nominated for Art Fund Prize, but you can also visit the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art while you’re in the city.

The National Museum of Scotland has also been nominated for the Art Fund Prize this year, following a multi-million pound renovation project. In addition to exhibits tracing the history of Scotland, this stunning museum also features displays relating to design and technology, world cultures, art and design, and the natural world.

Take the train to Glasgow…

…and visit The Riverside Museum. This contemporary building on the city’s waterfront is the new home of Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel and features a range of new exhibits, as well as objects from the original museum’s collection.

Take the train to Glasgow and head to the Riverside Museum to see vintage public transport, transport memorabilia, a recreation of a 1930s street and The Tall Ship ‘Glenlee’. The museum is just a short walk from Glasgow Partick Station, and you can get a connecting service from Glasgow Central Station.

Take the train to Exeter…

…and visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter. Another museum on this year’s Art Fund Prize List to have recently undergone major renovations, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery reopened to the public in December 2011.

The new museum features two floors of galleries and its permanent collection includes interactive exhibits relating to the geology and history of Devon, natural history exhibits and world culture artefacts. Family favourites such as Gerald the Giraffe still feature in the revamped displays and the museum also has a packed programme of temporary exhibitions.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery is just a stone’s throw from Exeter Central Station and 15 minutes’ walk from Exeter St. David’s Station, so it’s perfectly placed for anyone taking the train to Exeter.

Take the train to Margate…

…and visit Turner Contemporary. Opened in April 2011, Margate’s new Turner Contemporary is situated on the seafront, so you can combine a cultural day out with some traditional seaside fun.

Margate is just a 90 minute high-speed train ride from London and you can get to the Turner Contemporary from Margate Rail Station by foot in ten minutes.

Turner Contemporary, which is the largest exhibition space in the South East outside of the capital, will be hosting a wide range of events, so it’s somewhere that you’ll want to visit time and time again.

Take the train to Guildford…

…and visit the Watts Gallery. Situated in the village of Compton, just outside of Guildford, the Watts Gallery is the only UK gallery to have been purpose-built in order to display the works of a single artist.

The gallery, which reopened in June 2011 after a £10 million refurbishment, preserves and showcases the work of Victorian artist G. F. Watts- known as ‘England’s Michelangelo’ amongst his contemporaries.

To visit the Watts Gallery, take the train to Guildford and then jump into a taxi or the number 46 bus from Guildford city centre to Compton.

Which of these museums and galleries do you think should win the Art Fund Prize 2012? Let us know…

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