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Previous winners

Read more about 2019 winners, Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, and other past winners of the Family Friendly Museum Award.

The first Scottish winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award was announced on 14 October at a ceremony hosted by art dealer and broadcaster, Philip Mould, at the May Fair Hotel in London.

The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline fended off competition from 14 other venues to be named the UK’s best heritage attraction for families. The museum received glowing reviews from family judges who praised its welcoming staff, colour-coded family zones, year-round programme of activities, sensory backpacks, hands-on exhibits and great facilities.

The free museum explores the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, from his humble beginnings in Dunfermline to becoming the richest man in the world and the father of modern philanthropy. This year also marks the centenary of Andrew Carnegie’s death.

One undercover family judge said: “Considering the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum is relatively small, we were not expecting to spend much time there. We had spent the day in Dunfermline doing other things, and were ‘popping in’ to the museum on our way back to the train station to head back home to Edinburgh. We ended up staying over two hours! The museum goes above and beyond in making themselves a welcoming place for families. I have visited many much bigger museums that don’t make even half as much effort. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to other families.”

The other shortlisted museums for the Family Friendly Museum Award 2019 were:

Large Museum Category

Medium Museum Category

Small Museum Category

The Family Friendly Museum Award is kindly supported by Edwardian Hotels London.

Read more about the award winners prior to 2018

  • 2018: Leeds City Museum

    Baby-friendly curator talks, signposted selfie points, ‘Dadstastic’ Days, and excellent facilities are just some of the things that helped Leeds City Museum to fend off competition from ten other museums across the UK.

    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.

    2018 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.

    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.

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2018 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2017: People's History Museum

    A Co-op shop with old fashioned till that everyone can play with, craft tables and a place to make your own placard, a suffragette kitchen to explore, friendly welcoming staff, microscopes to look at bugs in the conservation studio, gender neutral toilets, a shop with an excellent range of pocket money toys and loads of buttons to press and games to play, these are just some of the excellent things that made the People’s History Museum winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2017.

    Relaunched in 2010 after a major refurbishment programme and attracting over 100,000 visitors per year, the People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy.

    With a collection of 1,500 objects celebrating the history of working people and a unique archive, the People’s History Museum stood out among this year’s shortlisted museums for listening to its family audience and making difficult subjects exciting and accessible. The recent exhibition, Never Going Underground: the Fight for LGBT+ Rights was curated with the local LGBT+ community with the aim of being family friendly and included special family packs. This exhibition was a highlight for many of our family judges.

    One family judge said: “The museum has very good ideas about how to deal with a difficult subject.”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2017 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2016: York Art Gallery

    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 made York Art Gallery winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2016.

    York Art Gallery, part of York Museum Trust, has recently reopened after a stunning £8 million refurbishment, dedicated to putting families at its heart.

    Why one family thought that 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 twos. 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.”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2016 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2015: Tullie House

    The winner of the 2015 Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award is 120-year-old Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Cumbria, close to the England-Scotland border.

    In 2015, the Award broke all our previous records with over 850 nominations, from tiny one-roomed galleries to mighty museums of international reputation.

    It’s the only Award where families pick the winner. Here’s why 10 year old Zara said Tullie House should win:

    “Tullie House is our favourite, favourite, favourite museum in the whole world. We go with Gran and Grandad all the time. There are so many cool things to see and do…”

    Shortlisted museum, the Winding House in Caerphilly, Wales, was also given a Special Commendation for Outstanding Contribution to their Local Community – the first time any museum has been given such a commendation. This is in recognition of the testimonies local families gave to their museum, saying how much it meant to them.

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2015 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2014: National Maritime Museum Cornwall

    National Maritime Museum Cornwall has won the 2014 Family Friendly Museum Award, beating a six-strong shortlist.

    Kids in Museums Patron Dan Snow, broadcaster and historian, said: “The Family Friendly Museum Award goes from strength to strength, giving a real voice to families about choosing what works in a museum for them. It’s fantastic that National Maritime Museum Cornwall has won the award.

    “Britain is a seafaring nation, and the museum tells the story of our relationship with the sea which makes it fascinating for families and children of all ages. If museums throughout the country could tell stories of our shared history this well, we’d have a whole generation of young people who’d be museum goers and historians. We’d also have young people who could imagine new and better futures, inspired by the stories of the past.”

    It’s the second time a museum has won the Award from the town of Falmouth, Cornwall. The Falmouth Art Gallery won the Family Friendly Museum Award eight years ago. National Maritime Museum Cornwall picked up the prize after being shortlisted last year. The museum received the award at a star-studded ceremony at the Telegraph newspaper.

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2014 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2013: Brixham Heritage Museum and Horniman Museum

    With over 140 nominated museums for this year’s Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award, our undercover family judges were so impressed with the six-strong shortlist that they couldn’t decide, so they chose joint winners!

    Tiny Brixham Heritage Museum in Devon, housed in a former police station and big national Horniman Museum and Gardens share the title of being Britain’s most Family Friendly Museum 2013.

    Kids in Museums Patron and bestselling children’s author Damian Dibben said: “That two such different museums in every way – Brixham Heritage and the Horniman – have been chosen as offering the very best welcome just shows how any museum can do it. It doesn’t matter how little or large you are, how important or wonderfully eclectic your collection, how close you are to the capital. It’s about how you greet, meet and involve families and children.”

    The museums received the award at a star-studded ceremony at the Telegraph.

    One family judge said: “I’d never been a passionate museum visitor, but Brixham Museum totally changed my point of view! The children are always excited at the prospect of visiting.”

    Another said: “As a kid I spent my weekends in with the musical instruments and walrus. As a teenager we picnicked in the park. As a parent we investigated the bugs and searched for queen bees and now I’m coming back for more. Definitely my favourite place in London.”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2013 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2012: Haslemere Educational Museum

    The winner of 2012 Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award was Haslemere Educational Museum.

    Kids in Museums Patron, Mariella Frostrup said: “This Award is important because it gives a real voice to families and children – letting them choose what works in a museum for them. They chose Haslemere not because of an outstanding collection – even though there’s a lovely stuffed bear, a giant spider crab and even an Egyptian Mummy – but because of the welcome they received. Nothing was too much for the staff and volunteers. It’s a gem.”

    Sandra Tellyn, who visited the museum with her three children anonymously as family judges said: “The volunteers couldn’t have been more welcoming. And as we were going out, my seven year old said he wanted to have a look at the shop but it was closing. The assistant heard, pulled away the barrier and said, ‘No problem – go and have a look!’ She didn’t rush us at all. Another volunteer told us about Hype, the museum’s teenagers’ club, and their photography project. My son is almost 13. It was perfect. Everyone we spoke to gave more than they had to. They were just amazing. It’s a little haven.”

    Haslemere, a small independent museum in Surrey, shone through because of its warm and welcoming attitude and wide range of activities and clubs for children and teenagers. Our judging families particularly noticed how friendly the volunteers were, willing to have a chat to visitors of all ages and point out interesting things to do.

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2012 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2011: Mansfield Museum

    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.

    One family judge visited all six museums on the shortlist with her two children, aged 5 and 8, and said: “Mansfield Museum has a happy family feeling.”

    Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums, said: “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!”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2011 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2010: Herbert Museum and Art Gallery

    The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, was the winner of the 2010 Guardian Family Friendly Award.

    A family judge who visited undercover with her two children said: “We loved it! We immediately felt welcome. We ran straight into a workshop on designing an outfit. The vibe was so good; families were joking together.”

    Another said: “We went to the front desk and I asked the lady if there was a family trail. There were different heights at the desk so I could ask my question to her very easily and she looked at me while we were talking. She said, ‘Think with me about what you’d like to see,’ so she wasn’t telling me what to do, which was very good. I listened to audio stories on a head set. I heard actual people’s memories, like this woman describing how she made dresses out of curtains during the war. This one thing had a label saying, ‘Please touch’. Isn’t that funny? Most of the times you are not allowed to touch anything in a museum!”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2010 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2008: Weston Park Museum

    Weston Park Museum, Sheffield, won the Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award 2008. Four generations from one family – from the great-grandmother to her great-grandchildren – judged Weston Park and found it came out top for family-friendliness to all ages. Every generation found something for them.

    Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums, said: “Weston Park has shown it doesn’t just target teenagers or concentrate on finger painting for toddlers. It’s proved to be a truly crossover museum, appealing to both adults and children. It’s the Harry Potter of the museum world.”

    This wealth of entries for the 2008 Award was whittled down by an expert judging panel. The judges commented on how high quality the entries were. Anra Kennedy, Head of Learning at Culture24, said: “The family-friendly bar is rising.”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2008 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2006: Falmouth Art Gallery

    In 2006 Falmouth Art Gallery won the Guardian’s Family Friendly Award. Having been shortlisted in both 2004 and 2005 it was a well-deserved win. The Gallery has consistently welcomed and involved children and families in imaginative, fun and engaging ways.

    Brian Stewart, Director, Falmouth Art Gallery: “Winning this prestigious award has given a huge boost to the morale of staff and volunteers at Falmouth Art Gallery as well as great pride to the town. We received so many congratulations from our regular visitors who rightly came to feel it was their gallery.

    “The award gave the gallery a wide national profile and we have been consulted for advice by many museums large and small. It has given past student volunteers, who have gone onto careers in other museums, confidence to spread the Kids in Museums philosophy to their new organisations.

    “All the staff and volunteers at Falmouth Art Gallery have realised that they are part of an important movement for change in museums and this responsibility has led to the constant search for improvement.

    “We were most grateful to the Guardian and the judges for this recognition.”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2006 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2005: Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford University Museum of Natural History

    In 2005 the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History were joint winners of the Family Friendly Museum Award.

    The winners were chosen by a panel of children aged between 8 and 16. All of the judges were impressed by the way these neighbouring museums treat younger visitors as an important and valued audience.

    One of our family judges said: “Being on the panel of judges for the awards was a great experience. The best thing about it was that as kids we had the chance to have our say about what we liked and didn’t like. I think that awards like this are important as they will help to encourage other children to visit museums especially if they have the seal of approval from people their own age.”

    The other shortlisted museums for the 2005 Family Friendly Museum Award were:

  • 2004: Killhope North of England Lead Mining Museum

    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.

    Ian Forbes, Director of Killhope North of England Lead Mining Museum, said: “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!

    “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.”