Baby-friendly curator talks, signposted selfie points, ‘Dadstastic’ Days, and excellent facilities are just some of the things that helped Leeds to fend off competition from ten other museums across the UK.
Kids in Museums awards the prize annually to one museum that has made outstanding efforts to welcome children and families and respond to their feedback. The charity received over 550 nominations from both families and museums, which were whittled down to a shortlist of 11 by an expert panel. Undercover family judges then visited and assessed each shortlisted museum against the Kids in Museums Manifesto, with their experiences deciding the winner.
Leeds City Museum stood out for its ‘warm and welcoming’ staff, who were present throughout the museum and went the extra mile to help visitors. Families also praised the museum for being representative of the different communities in Leeds in its exhibitions.
This year marks ten years since Leeds City Museum reopened in the former Mechanics’ Institute. The museum was originally established in 1821 and is run by Leeds Museums and Galleries (LMG), the largest local authority-run museum service in England.
Emmajane Avery, Chair of Kids in Museums, said:
“I’m delighted that we are able to recognise the fantastic work that Leeds City Museum is doing to engage young people and their families. It was an extremely competitive year, with 11 brilliant venues in the shortlist, but the team in Leeds really impressed our family judges with their great welcome and willingness to help, as well as their varied and dynamic year-round public activities. My congratulations to everyone at Leeds City Museum and the undoubted inspiration they bring to the next generation of historians and culture lovers.”
Over 90,000 children went to Leeds City Museum in 2017, with the majority of children visiting with their families. The museum holds regular groups for all ages, from ‘Museum Minis’ for under 5s to the Preservative Party youth panel for 14-22 year olds. Local schoolchildren have even contributed to museum displays and hosted events.
Leeds is the third Yorkshire attraction to win the accolade, joining previous winners York Art Gallery (2016) and Weston Park Museum in Sheffield (2008).
Congratulating the museum, Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled and immensely proud to see Leeds City Museum recognised for giving children and families such a warm welcome and for bringing history to life for thousands of young people in our city.
“This is a massive endorsement for the passion and enthusiasm of the team there and the dedication they show in making the museum a fun and accessible place for children to enjoy while they learn more about history, heritage and the world around them.
“Our ambition is always for Leeds to be a child friendly city and staff at all our attractions work hard to put children, families and young people at the heart of everything they do.”
The other shortlisted museums for the 2018 Family Friendly Museum Award were:
- The Erewash Museum, Derbyshire
- Museum of the Order of St John, London
- National Maritime Museum, London
- Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perth and Kinross
- The Postal Museum, London
- The Red House, Suffolk
- Torquay Museum, Devon
- The Whitworth, Greater Manchester
- Wrexham County Borough Museum, Wrexham
- Yr Ysgwrn, Gwynedd