Now in their 11th year, these prestigious awards give all organisations, regardless of size, the chance to be recognised and for the quality of their work to be celebrated. Anna Preedy, Event Director told us “It is hugely inspiring to see how this sector continues to overcome huge challenges and financial restraints with determination and enthusiasm and all without compromise to quality.” Any museum, gallery or heritage visitor attraction can enter the awards. Whether large or small, well known or newly established, entrants are judged on their submissions and winners are diverse.

Submissions started arriving in early January to meet the February deadline. Once the postman can no longer lift the sacks to deliver the burgeoning number of entries, the final week’s submissions arrive by van. Once Deb Harris, Awards Co-ordinator, has managed to emerge from the pile of entries, the process of whittling them down to the shortlist of approximately 60 can begin. The 5 judges lock themselves away for the final judging process, sustained mainly by coffee and cake. They are looking for evidence of ‘outcome, creativity, relation to objective and cost effectiveness’. Short-listed entries will show all of this but the winners will also have to demonstrate something extra – true excellence!

One day's delivery pile

One day’s delivery pile

Meet the Judges – Dr Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums | Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA | Diane Lees, Director General of the Imperial War Museums | Matthew Tanner, Chairman of the Association of Independent Museums | Sam Mullins, Director of the London Transport Museum

Broken up into 11 categories the awards generate very public recognition for the winners and shortlistees and have been instrumental in helping many to secure funding and support from key stakeholders. Award winners have also enjoyed recognition both locally and further afield as the awards increasingly gain an international profile.

Best Customer Service Award sponsored by BDRC Continental | Marketing Campaign | Permanent Exhibition | Temporary or Touring Exhibition | Educational Initiative | Sustainability Award sponsored by PLB | Project on a Limited Budget sponsored by Sweett Group | Innovations Award | Trading & Enterprise – the Winstan Bond Trophy supported by AIM | International Award sponsored by Martello Media | Restoration & Conservation sponsored by Fairhurst Ward Abbotts

In 2014, M+H is also continuing its partnership with the Guardian Culture Professionals Network to crown the UK’s most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction of the past 12 months. (If you’d like to nominate your favourite for the Culture Pros Pick details can be found here.)

On the night, 300 people will gather at the historic staterooms of 8 Northumberland Avenue in the heart of London not just to eat, drink and be entertained by host Sue Perkins, but to see who has triumphed. As Anna Preedy says “These awards really count as they are a direct endorsement by senior industry colleagues whose opinions matter”.

Sue Perkins entertaining the audience

Sue Perkins entertaining the audience

If you aren’t already working on your submission, you can download the submission criteria and entry form here. Entries are welcome from everyone regardless of the scale or size of project and budget. Cost-effectiveness is at the heart of these awards as is creativity and resourcefulness and entries are welcome from everyone. So, if you work in a local authority museum, a national or independent museum, a gallery or a heritage or cultural visitor attraction or perhaps you are a supplier to this sector, this is your chance to have your hard work recognised. Good luck to everyone!

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