IT attracted plaudits during Hull’s City of Culture year, breaking its record for visitor numbers and hosting the Turner Prize.
Now the Ferens Art Gallery - which attracted global publicity with its commission for Spencer Tunick’s Sea of Hull in 2016 - is in the running for the largest museum prize in the world, burnishing Yorkshire’s growing reputation for the arts.
If it succeeds in winning the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018 it will make it a hat-trick for Yorkshire.
Last year the Hepworth Wakefield art gallery in West Yorkshire scooped the award - whose kudos many would argue is priceless - while in 2014 Yorkshire Sculpture Park claimed the award.
This year the Ferens is the only attraction in the north of England to be shortlisted, up against the likes of the Tate St Ives, which reopened last October following a £20m refurbishment of its galleries and the addition of an elegant new extension.
Another contender is one of the newest museums in the UK - London’s Postal Museum which has seen 75,000 visitors pour through its doors since opening six months ago.
The shortlist for the annual award which celebrates innovation and exceptional achievement in museums and galleries across the UK was announced by Art Fund’s director Stephen Deuchar on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row show.
The Ferens received more than 519,000 visitors in 2017 - an increase of 309 per cent compared to 2014 - and it has been hailed the most successful year of the gallery’s 90-year history.
Since reopening last January after a £5.2m refurbishment, the gallery, has hosted an array of critically acclaimed exhibitions including the world’s most prestigious contemporary art awards the Turner Prize.
It was the second most visited Turner Prize exhibition outside of London with over 116,0000 visits.
This year’s winner, Lubaina Himid, was announced at a glittering awards ceremony in Hull last Decamber.
Other exhibitions included Skin - developed and curated by the gallery team - featured works by Spencer Tunick, Ron Mueck and Lucian Freud, attracting 176,443 visitors. There was also the 50th Open Exhibition, works by Francis Bacon and a Rembrandt masterpiece on loan from The Royal Collection Trust.
Simon Green, Director of Cultural Services at Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “We are delighted and indeed honoured to have been selected as a finalist for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2018.
“To be in the running to win this accolade highlights the success of 2017, a truly transformational year for the city and gallery.
“It also recognises the hard work of everyone, our fantastic staff and volunteers, the Friends of the Ferens and Futures Ferens and the many visitors we welcomed over the year.
“I would like to thank each and every one of our loyal visitors, who have continued to support the gallery over the years.”
The winning museum, which will receive £100,000, will be announced at a ceremony at the V&A Museum on July 5.
The other shortlisted museums will receive £10,000 each.