Organised by Kids in Museums, the award is the largest and only museum award in Britain to be decided by families. Leeds City Museum stood out, the family judges said, for its ‘warm and welcoming’ staff, who were present throughout the museum and went the extra mile to help visitors. Families also praised the museum for being representative of the different communities in Leeds in its exhibitions.
Some of the museum’s initiatives that helped scoop the award were baby-friendly curator talks, signposted selfie points, ‘Dadstastic’ Days, and all round ‘excellent facilities’. Kids in Museums received 550 nominations for 2018 from both families and museums, which were whittled down to a shortlist of 11 by an expert panel. Undercover family judges then visited and assessed each shortlisted museum, with their experiences deciding the winner.
Emmajane Avery, Chair of Kids in Museums, said of Leeds City Museum becoming Family Friendly Museum of the Year: “It was an extremely competitive year, with 11 brilliant venues in the shortlist, but the team in Leeds really impressed our family judges with their great welcome and willingness to help, as well as their varied and dynamic year-round public activities. My congratulations to everyone at Leeds City Museum and the undoubted inspiration they bring to the next generation of historians and culture lovers.”
This year marks ten years since Leeds City Museum reopened in the former Mechanics’ Institute. The museum was originally established in 1821 and is run by Leeds Museums and Galleries (LMG), the largest local authority-run museum service in England.
More than 90,000 children visited Leeds City Museum in 2017, with the majority of children visiting with their families. The museum holds regular groups for all ages, from ‘Museum Minis’ for under-5s to the Preservative Party youth panel for 14-22 year olds. Local schoolchildren have even contributed to museum displays and hosted events.
Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is a massive endorsement for the passion and enthusiasm of the team there and the dedication they show in making the museum a fun and accessible place for children to enjoy while they learn more about history, heritage and the world around them. Our ambition is always for Leeds to be a child friendly city and staff at all our attractions work hard to put children, families and young people at the heart of everything they do.”
Leeds is the third Yorkshire attraction to win the accolade, joining previous winners York Art Gallery (2016) and Weston Park Museum in Sheffield (2008). Last year’s winner, the People’s History Museum in Manchester, presented the award.
The other shortlisted museums for the 2018 Family Friendly Museum Award
- The Erewash Museum, Derbyshire
- Museum of the Order of St John, London
- National Maritime Museum, London
- Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perth and Kinross
- The Postal Museum, London
- The Red House, Suffolk
- Torquay Museum, Devon
- The Whitworth, Greater Manchester
- Wrexham County Borough Museum, Wrexham
- Yr Ysgwrn, Gwynedd