The project was inaugurated in 1973 by the Council of Europe and the first prizes were awarded on the occasion of a ceremony at Rohan Palace in Strasbourg in the following year. The candidates are new museums or museums after radical reorganization or extension. The main goal is to discover and promote new ideas in European museums.
The candidates are evaluated after the following criteria:
# Collections. Are they significant and interesting?
# Exhibitions and their discourse. Are they original and efficient?
# Services for the public. The confectionary, the restaurant, the stand, the parking, the toilets. Are they well designed and efficient?
# Ambiance. Is the museum cosy and hospitable or frozen and aseptic?
# Administration. Is the museum well operated?
# Staff. Do the relations between the staff members seem good? Can the visitor detect elements specific to a “civil war”?
# Publications. What kind of publications does the museum issue?
# Marketing and Communication. Are they well adjusted and organized?
# Animators. Does the museum have ambitious programs?
In 1996, EMYA was awarded for the first time to an East European museum, the Romanian Peasant Museum from Bucharest. Her Majesty Queen Fabiola presented the EMYA trophy, The Egg by Henry Moore, to director Horia Bernea. In his speech, the EMYA president, Kenneth Hudson, said:
“My colleagues and myself are convinced that the Big Prize of this year must be given to the Romanian Peasant Museum from Bucharest. The wonderful collections of objects are exhibited and interpreted with exceptional imagination and skill, in an original style with great impact on the visitor. The director of the museum is loved and respected by his colleagues and his artistic formation has helped him build a museum that goes beyond the traditional level of display and creates a whole more important than the sum of parts. Horia Bernea is an exceptional man and we are sure that the European museum world will hear much more of him in the future. He, as well as the museum, is destined to have an international influence.”
“Margareta Sterian” Award for best exhibition (1993, 2001 and 2003).
“Hospitality Award” (Ministry of Tourism), 1995.
National Cultural Patrimony Awards: “Horia Bernea” National Museography Award for the exhibition “Work. Fire – Water – Wind, 2002; “Vasile Dragut” Award, 2002; “Al.Tzigara-Samurcaș” Award, 2003.
National Committee ICOM Award for the exhibition “Cahle” (Tiles), 2002.
Multimedia Award for the CD series “Face to face”, 2002.
Multimedia Award for the “Info Kiosk”, 2003.
“Ioan Băcescu” Award for the patrimony, obtained in 2004 for the project promoting the cultural patrimony in Țara Hațegului, in partnership with the GeoMedia Center, the Museum of Geology and the “Grigore Antipa” Museum.
Mention awarded by the National Committee ICOM (2005) to dr. Georgeta Rosu and to Mrs. Danièle Malis for the thematic concept of the exhibition Icons. Spiritual abstractions displayed at Chateau – Musée Edgar Mèlik, Cabriés, France, for promoting Romanian cultural values abroad.
“Horia Bernea” Award for Intangible Heritage, given by the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs for the project : „Sântămăria Orlea – autoportret european – Natură şi cultură în Ţara Haţegului” (SaintMary Orlea – European self-portrait – Nature and culture in Hațeg Country), in 2006.
UCIN Award for documentary film screenplay for the DVD “Muzeul de la Şosea” (The Museum on the Road), in 2006.