We bet you can’t guess which museum has been chosen by visitors as the most family friendly in Britain. It’s small and has – to be honest – an unpromising collection, including displays of 19th century Porcelain and glass cabinets of stuffed animals collected by a local dignitary in the early 20th century. Yet Mansfield Museum in Nottinghamshire has used imagination, innovation and case loads of enthusiasm to beat off its rivals in the six-strong shortlist and win this year’s Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award.
‘Mansfield museum was a surprise to us. From a Guinea Pig trail to turning the museum into an old fashioned department store stocked with their collection of household goods, they’ve proved you don’t need an architecturally astonishing building or Egyptian mummies to entice and entrance families. And it’s fabulous that the local children’s choirs practice there. It turns the idea of a museum as a quiet place on its head. You go to Mansfield Museum to sing your heart out!’ says Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums.
‘The museum has a happy family feeling,’ said Karla Lessingham, who visited with her son Aidan, 8, and her daughter Nadia, 5, as one of the family judges. Each shortlisted museum was visited anonymously by families, who reported back on the family friendliness they found and picked the winner. The Lessinghams are the first of family judges to have visited all six museums on the Award shortlist, from Kilmartin House in Argyll to Corinium in Cirencester.
Family judge Jackie Shears, who went to Mansfield with her three children aged between eight and three, liked the low-tech interactives and that the kids could sit down and colour in every single room. She only had one complaint. ‘There was no loo roll in the Gents!’
The prize is a Giant Folded Sheet designed and donated by www.foldedsheet.com
The other shortlisted museums were:
Corinium Museum, Cirencester
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent
Kilmartin House Museum, Argyll
Horniman Museum, London
Abbey House Museum, Leeds
For interviews with family judges, museums and Kids in Museums, just call 07545 697652.
Images of winning and shortlisted museums are available for press use, including our Quentin Blake logo.
More about the Guardian Family Friendly Museum award at www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk/awards