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LONDON (Reuters) - The Ulster Museum in Belfast won the Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries on Wednesday, and with it 100,000 pounds ($150,000), highlighting a cultural rejuvenation in Northern Ireland.
It beat three other short-listed institutions -- the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry.
"This is the first time in Northern Ireland's history that a prestigious cultural prize of this nature has been awarded to an institution in the region," said Tim Cooke, Director of National Museums Northern Ireland.
"It is particularly humbling for us to be selected for this prize against such high caliber competition," he added.
Kirsty Young, who chaired the judging panel, said: "Here is a museum that shows how much can be achieved, and one that is building a lasting legacy.
"The transformed Ulster Museum is an emblem of the confidence and cultural rejuvenation of Northern Ireland."
The museum recently underwent a three-year, 17.8 million pound renovation.
For the first time, The Art Fund Prize website hosted a poll inviting the public to vote for their favorite nominated museum or gallery, and to post supporting comments.
Some 73,000 votes were cast and more than 40,000 comments posted, all of which were taken into consideration by the judges when making their final decision.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White