A small museum with 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, is the most family friendly museum in Britain. 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 Award – the biggest museum award in Britain and the only one judged by families. The prize is a Giant Folded Sheet designed and donated by www.foldedsheet.com.
‘Mansfield 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.
‘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.
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 shortlisted museums were:
Find out more about the shortlist here.
Have a look at how Mansfield Museum have used their prize, the Giant Folded Sheet.
How does the Guardian Family Friendly Award work?
Each year we make a call for nominations, announced in the Guardian and on our website. Anyone can nominate anyone – visitors, volunteers and museums themselves. If you’d like to be kept informed, just email firstname.lastname@example.org we’ll put you on our mailing list.
The nominations are put before a large panel of volunteers who sift through the hundreds of entries. They draw up a longlist. If you would like to volunteer for Kids in Museums, just email email@example.com
The longlist is discussed by a panel of distinguished judges, chaired by Jenny Abramsky, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. This panel draw up the shortlist.
The shortlist is roadtested anonymously by families, who report back to Kids in Museums, marking the museums against the points on the Kids in Museums Manifesto. The museum with the best family reports and most points wins. If you would like to be a judging family for next year’s award, just email firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a look at some of our previous winners