Alongside the introduction of new categories specifically designed to recognise excellent responses to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the opportunity for the sector to decide who takes home the COVID Special Recognition Award and COVID Supplier of the Year prizes represents a first for the event.

The decision to put these two categories to a public vote was in part motivated by the overwhelming response to this year’s Awards, which garnered a record number of submissions.

“There was a time when I feared we may struggle for entries to the 2021 Museums + Heritage Awards but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” explains Anna Preedy, director of the Museums + Heritage Awards.

“The work of the museums sector didn’t grind to a halt – quite the reverse, and it is truly inspiring to see what a difference so many of our shortlistees have made to their local communities during the most challenging of times.”

The 2021 shortlist

COVID Special Recognition Award

  • Bernard Donoghue, ALVA
  • Pippa Pickles, Colchester + Ipswich Museums
  • David Green, Florence Nightingale Museum
  • Victoria Ryves, Heritage Doncaster, Doncaster Council
  • Rachel Mackay’s Recovery Room
  • Ngaire Bushell, IWM

*Vote now*

COVID Supplier of the Year

  • Formed UK – COVID-safe re-opening of museums
  • The Radical Tea Towel Company – showing Solidarity
  • Decision House – visitor recovery insight for ALVA
  • Tricolor Associates – recovery support for many
  • Julius Rutherfoord & Co – COVID-safe re-opening of museums

*Vote now*

Best Use of Digital – International

  • Bowling BV on behalf of Visit Flanders – The Stay At Home Museum
  • History Center Lake Forest Lake Bluff – A Candid Look at Covid 19
  • National Museums Liverpool – My House of Memories Singapore
  • National Museum of Korea – SNMK (Smart National Museum of Korea) Project
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Met Stories

Best Use of Digital – UK

  • London Transport Museum – Hidden London Hangouts and Virtual Tours
  • non zero one and the National Trust in partnership with
  • Heritage Open Days – DAWNS
  • Smartify – Ray Harryhausen at The National Galleries of Scotland
  • British Museum – Expanding Schools Virtual Visits
  • Barnsley Museums – Going Digital: Barnsley Museums in COVID
  • National Portrait Gallery – Hold Still: A Portrait of our Nation in 2020

Best Use of Social Media

  • York Museums Trust – #CuratorBattle
  • The Tank Museum – TANKFEST Online
  • The Coffin Works Museum – Closed but connected: Taking Risks to Open Up Our Collection
  • Black Country Living Museum – Black Country Living Museum’s viral TikTok Campaign
  • National Museums Liverpool – International Slavery Museum Social Media Entry

Community Impact Award

  • Colchester + Ipswich Museums – Museum From Home activity packs
  • Royal Mint Museum – Reminiscence Box Project
  • Heritage Doncaster – History, Health and Happiness
  • English Heritage – Reverberate
  • The Scottish Crannog Centre – Dig the New Breed!! Apprentices and the local community

Exhibition of the Year – UK sponsored by Displayways

  • Garden Museum – Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon
  • Horniman Museum and Gardens – From Birth til Death: Scrolled Life Stories
  • Salisbury Cathedral – Celebrating 800 years of ‘Spirit and Endeavour’
  • The Box (Plymouth City Council) – Permanent Galleries
  • Nerve Centre – Culture Lab

Fundraising Award

  • BGI – Save the National Videogame Museum Crowdfunding Campaign
  • The Cartoon Museum – COVID survival fundraising
  • Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway – The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway ‘Tracks’ campaign
  • The Tank Museum – The Tank Museum Patreon
  • RAF Museum – Adopt an Artefact
  • Charleston – Save and Reopen Charleston

International Exhibition of the Year sponsored by Displayways

  • Museum Southeast Denmark – Holmegaard Værk
  • Natural History Museum of Denmark – King of Dinosaurs
  • MAS museum – 100 x Congo. A century of Congolese art in Antwerp
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art – About Time: Fashion and Duration
  • Centre Screen Ltd – United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum
  • Tinker imagineers – Airborne Experience

Learning Outreach Award

  • Leeds Museums and Galleries – Closing the Covid gap: LMG Primary School Membership, curriculum planning and Recovery Curriculum
  • Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books – Escape, Joy and Recovery: reinvention of a child-centred learning programme in a pandemic
  • Waddesdon Manor – When You Wish upon a Star
  • Council for British Archaeology, University of Lincoln Dig School – Enquiry-based learning in archaeology
  • Bumblebee Conservation Trust – Bumblebee Education Experience (B.E.E.)

Partnership of the Year Award

  • National Gallery, StoryFutures and Smartify CIC – Exit through the digital gift shop: rapid research and development of a new museum marketplace
  • Queer Heritage and Collections Network – Queer Heritage and Collections Network (QHCN)
  • RAF Museum – Joint Operations – A Tri-Service Museum Partnership
  • Chichester Cathedral – The Chichester Nativity
  • Ashmolean Museum – Artists in Residence’ Art Competition

Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year

  • St Alfege Church – Heart of Greenwich Place and People
  • Hampshire Cultural Trust – Mr Simpson’s Teddy Bears – a bit of joy in dark times
  • The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings – SPAB Old House Project
  • Derby Museums – Restoring Derby Silk Mill to create the UK’s first Museum of Making
  • The National Museum of the Royal Navy – LCT 7074
  • Cliveden Conservation – Reinstallation of Fordington Roman mosaic, Dorset County Museum

Shop of the Year

  • London Transport Museum – London Transport Museum’s Online Shop
  • The Tank Museum – The Tank Museum Online Shop
  • The Box (Plymouth City Council) – The Box Shop
  • Vagina Museum – The Vagina Museum shop
  • National Museums Liverpool – National Museums Liverpool Online Shop

Sustainable Project of the Year sponsored by National Lottery Heritage Fund

  • Derby Museums – Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill
  • Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museums Wales – GRAFT: a soil based syllabus
  • Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds Museums and Galleries – Natural Encounters Exhibition Leeds Art Gallery
  • Froglife – London T.O.A.D (Tails of Amphibian Discovery)
  • Jubilee Pool Penzance – Jubilee Pool Penzance- First Geothermal heated pool in the UK

The Pandemic Pivot Award < 20 paid FTE employees

  • Nothe Fort – Demonstrating how heritage sites have an important role to play during the pandemic
  • Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) – The Creative Cabin – art and nature on tour
  • City Voices – Gloucester Looking Up
  • Chawton House – Transforming Chawton House: the Covid year
  • South West Museum Development – Pest Partners project

The Pandemic Pivot Award > 20 paid FTE employees

  • Lichfield Cathedral – Lichfield Cathedral – a beacon of hope during a pandemic
  • Museum of London – Project Doors Stay Open by the Museum of London
  • Imperial War Museum – Victory 75
  • National Trust for Scotland – Burn’s Big Night In
  • Birmingham Museums Trust – Sarehole Mill – Community Shop and Bakehouse
  • Beamish, The Living Museum of the North – Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Volunteer(s) of the Year sponsored by AIM

  • Powderham Castle – The Powderham Volunteers
  • Gladstone Pottery Museum – Terry Woolliscroft’s Bottle Oven Art Club
  • Bawdsey Radar Trust – Bawdsey Radar online retail team
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council – Harry and Julian Young – Testament of Youth
  • University of Edinburgh Museums – Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities – Student Mentors

The 2021 shortlist was whittled down by a judging panel consisting of: Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA; Diane Lees, director general of Imperial War Museums; Matthew Tanner, chief executive of the SS Great Britain Trust; Maggie Appleton, chief executive of the Royal Air Force Museum; Sam Mullins, director of London Transport Museum; and Caro Howell, director of the Foundling Museum.

“Thank you to everyone who entered the Awards this year,” Preedy adds. “We received a record number of entries and so many were deserving of recognition but congratulations must, of course, be reserved for those who made it through to the shortlist. A list which is, I believe, truly representative of the diversity and breadth of our sector.”

For the second consecutive year the Museums + Heritage Awards ceremony will be taking place online, with a live-streamed event set to be hosted on 1st July by journalist, broadcaster and equal pay activist Samira Ahmed.

To cast your vote in the COVID Special Recognition Award and COVID Supplier of the Year categories click here.

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