In the summer of 2004 Killhope North of England Lead Mining Museum in County Durham was declared the winner of the first Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award.
A panel of judges including Mark Taylor, chair of the Museums Association drew up the shortlist from hundreds of nominations before handing over to families for the final decision. Kids in Museums family judges – a tough and discerning lot – hit the road to test out all of the shortlisted museums.
2004 Runners-up were:
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Falmouth Art Gallery
Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Museum of Farnham
WINNING THE GUARDIAN FAMILY FRIENDLY MUSEUM AWARD
Message from Ian Forbes, Director of Killhope North of England Lead Mining Museum, winner of the first Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award:
The day we discovered that Killhope had won the first Guardian Family Friendly award in 2004 is still etched in my memory.
What did winning mean to the museum? Many things. Immediately it felt like validation of our approach to our public. We have always put the visitor at the centre of what we do, believing that our role is above all to tell the story of our site and our collections to everyone who comes through our doors. If the visitor is happy, then so are we!
Later it felt like a challenge. Not just that we had something to live up to, but more that we should use the award as a spur to achieve more. How can we continue to improve? How can we continue to ensure that what we offer is fresh and relevant to the next generation of museum visitors?
And still, today, this is an award that is remembered by people I talk to. It has had a remarkably long shelf-life, and has helped ensure that Killhope continues to be seen as a great family day out.
Many times since winning the award I have been asked what the secret of our success was. I don’t think it’s a secret at all. If everyone in the museum – and I mean everyone from cleaner to director – believes that their first and most important duty is to ensure that each and every visitor gets what they want from their visit then the museum will be family friendly. It’s as simple and as hard as that. It’s not primarily about the nuts and bolts, and the ticking of check lists. It’s about attitude. Get that right and you’re a winner.
So thank you Guardian readers for voting us your family friendly museum – we owe you a great deal.