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They stretch all the way from Cornwall to Scotland, including a national collection and a volunteer-run museum. This year’s shortlist for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award is a reflection of all the different sorts of museums in Britain, and how each can offer a wonderful welcome to families.
The 2014 shortlist for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award is:
Beamish Museum, Durham
Elgin Museum, Moray
Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre, Yorkshire
The Lightbox, Woking, Surrey
National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth
Royal Gunpowder Mills, Essex
Here’s what celebrity children’s author and Kids in Museums Patron Damian Dibben has to say about the 2014 shortlist:
‘Museum size is not important. Certainly I’ve enjoyed the blockbusters – the real-life dinosaurs and space rockets – but, as a teenager far more crucial was the welcome I received, the nurturing, the encouragement to step into a new realm of discovery, and the sense of freedom that I could get mucky there. Elgin Museum in Moray is a perfectly-formed gem, free to enter and the oldest independent museum in Scotland. Here, staff like kids to handle their extraordinary trove of riches, from dinosaur fossils to artefacts, medieval, Victorian and World War related. The Royal Gunpowder Mills offers three hundred years of explosive history. Set over a huge sight in Essex, it has dozens of interactive exhibits and year round events and Professor Nitrate is always on hand to enlist willing volunteers for his madcap experiments. Beamish in Durham is a one-off, a living museum that takes you back to the North East of the past (with its army of costumed volunteers. You can drive a steam train, role-play as a Victorian Schoolboy, a suffragette and much, much more. The Lightbox focuses largely on art, making it unique on this shortlist. It engages directly with its community, inspires creativity for all ages and abilities, exceptionally so, and has a brilliant young curator’s programme. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth opens up a world of seafaring exploration. Here, as with all the entries, you get the sense that young people are not just welcome, they’re vital. All year round, there is an astonishing array of workshops, sleepovers and hands on activities. Experience Barnsley Museum & Discovery Centre has been created ‘by the people for the people’. Young visitors are not only invited to uncover the incredible story of the area, but also to add to the archives themselves. This museum literally changes shape with every new person that steps inside.’
The shortlist was picked from a 20-strong longlist by an expert panel of judges, chaired by Jenny Abramsky, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Among the judges were Game of Thrones actress Hannah Murray, historian and broadcaster Helen Castor, and Damian Dibben.
What happens next?
The shortlist are road-tested anonymously by families. The families pick the winner. So watch out for the mystery museum family judges if you are at any of the shortlisted museums this summer!
Do you know a family who would like to be mystery museum judges? Then email us.
The winner of the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2014 will be announced on 26 September 2014 at a ceremony at the Telegraph newspaper.