A boy dresses up at the Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery’s recent Viking Fact and Fiction exhibition
A small volunteer-run museum in Northumberland, Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery, has been named winner of the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award 2021
Competing against 19 other shortlisted museums – including three large museums – Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery located in St Mary’s Church in the market town of Alnwick impressed families with its welcoming volunteers and relaxed atmosphere.
Only museum award in UK judged by families
Run by charity Kids in Museums, it is the only museum award in the UK to be judged by families. Since it launched in 2004, the award has become a benchmark of excellence in the heritage sector and each year the charity receives hundreds of public nominations, which are whittled down to a shortlist by an expert panel. However, the final say goes to families, who visit each shortlisted museum over the summer holidays, and decide the winners.
One family judge said: “This was our first time here and we had no expectations really, but it was such a big hit. We loved how relaxed it felt. The children were actively encouraged to touch and play with the exhibits. The youngest ones loved searching for the museum mice, which was a lovely touch as it gave them something to focus on. The Viking exhibit was small and perfect … we had to drag them out for lunch otherwise I’m sure they would have stayed longer. We would definitely go back.”
Winners: Family Friendly Museum Award 2021
- Overall Winner and Best Small Museum: Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery, Alnwick
- Best Medium Museum: London Transport Museum
- Best Large Museum: Horniman Museum and Gardens, London
- Best Digital Activity: National Museum Wales – Museum Sleepover: At Home and The Whitworth, Manchester – Play Live
- Best Accessible Museum: The Postal Museum, London
“At its heart is a group of devoted volunteers working hard to welcome and support their local community,” Philip Mould, President of Kids in Museums, said. “Thanks to their efforts, Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery has excelled in allowing families to feel free to be themselves and to have fun and engage with the history inside the museum.”
COP26-themed Takeover Day
Kids in Museums is also behind museums’ Takeover Day and Digital Takeover Day, which see schools and museums combine to allow kids to takeover a cultural venue. This year will be the first themed events to coincide with the last day of the UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow on 12 November.
The Family Friendly Museum Award has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England.
About the author – Adrian Murphy
Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.