COLCHESTER’s prestigious art gallery has been selected as one of the top five in the country, and is now in line to win £100,000.

And even if it doesn’t scoop the top prize, Firstsite, off East Hill, will still take home a cool £15,000 in recognition of its remarkable achievements.

It comes as the gallery has made the shortlist for Art Fund’s Museum of the year, dubbed the world’s largest museum prize.

Art Fund annually selects five outstanding museums for the prize and this year’s edition reflects the resilience and imagination of the institutions throughout the pandemic.

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At this moment of museums re-opening and starting their recovery, the 2021 prize highlights and rewards the extraordinary ways in which they have, over the troublesome past year, served and connected with their communities.

Firstsite director Sally Shaw believes all their hard work throughout an extremely challenging period has paid off.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted for this prestigious prize,” she said, “especially as in 2021 Firstsite is celebrating the tenth anniversary of our spectacular crescent-shaped building with a year of celebration projects and commissions – which kicked off with The Great Big Art Exhibition.”

Over the past ten years, Firstsite has gained a strong, critical reputation for its ambitious work.

Throughout the pandemic it launched Art is Where the Home Is - a series of free activity packs featuring more than 50 artists - which was downloaded by 92,000 households.

In response to Black Lives Matter it commissioned artist Elsa James to make a downloadable work in solidarity and celebrated black culture in Essex.

The other four shortlisted museums for the prize are Centre for Contemporary Art Derry, Experience Barnsley, The Thackray Museum of Medicine and Timespan.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in September.