Displays babies can touch and lick, low-level labels, lots of comfy chairs, a dedicated Welcome Team, an excellent café, sketch pads dotted about, and even an edible woodland with herbs, berries, fruit trees and ornamental vegetables selected not only to look good, but taste good. These are just some of the inspirational, excellent family-friendly things that have made York Art Gallery winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2016. The gallery, part of York Museum Trust, has recently reopened after a stunning £8 million refurbishment, dedicated to putting families at its heart.
The Family Friendly Museum Award is the biggest museum award in Britain and the only award where families pick the winner. Over 70 nominated museums were whittled down to a shortlist of ten. These were then road-tested by our family judges against the 20 points in the Kids in Museums Manifesto.
Here’s why one family thought their local museum should win: “The whole makeover of the gallery is great and my family have felt unbelievably welcome. My kids are growing up visiting the art gallery, exploring the art work, mixing with other people and gaining confidence exploring…”
York Art Gallery, with over 1,000 paintings spanning five centuries, shone among the shortlisted museums as a place where people of all ages could come together. They hold art schools for teenagers, pottery workshops for families and Museum Monkey sessions for the under-2s. It adds up to turning a visit into a lifelong love of museums and all they offer: “I’ll visit York Art Gallery with my daughter regularly as she grows up. As someone who loves art, it is the ideal place for me to convey my enthusiasm to her so that museums and galleries become part of her life.”
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “The UK is home to a range of world-class museums, and it is so important that they are accessible to everyone. I love taking my kids to visit and explore our museums. Family friendly museums, in particular, help to spark a lifelong interest and passion in arts, culture and history from a very young age.
“I’d like to congratulate the winner York Art Gallery and all of those shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award and commend them for their hard work to ensure that museum doors are open to everyone.”
Reyhan King, Director of York Museums Trust said: “This is the most important thing that’s happened to York Art Gallery since we reopened. This award celebrates our welcome and what real visitors and families experience. That’s what we’re most proud of.”
The winner was announced on Monday 10 October at a ceremony at The Charterhouse, an historic complex of buildings dating back to the 14th century situated close to London’s Smithfield Market. The ceremony was conducted by Philip Mould – broadcaster, author and gallery owner.
The Award is generously supported by Philip Mould & Company and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.