If you follow Kids in Museums on Twitter, you might have noticed that we recently had a flurry of activity. We have reached the long listing stage of the Family Friendly Museum Awards. This is the bit where the volunteers sift through all of the nominations to find the best 20 which will go before a panel of experts to be whittled down to a final five.
This final five will then be road-tested by the actual experts: the visitors. It’s not the management and directors that know what makes a good museum, it’s the people that go in and visit. When you wander around a museum you can tell quite quickly if its a good one – are the staff friendly? is the interpretation accessible? are the loos in a good state?
This is what makes the Family Friendly Museum Awards unique – it’s the only one that really gives a voice to the visitors.
For this years’ award, we received 800 nominations for nearly 100 museums and galleries up and down the country. That was quite a lot to get through, especially when one museum had over 200 nominations!
But, the numbers only tell a small part of the story. We always say, it isn’t the quantity of the nominations that matter, it’s the quality. On the page that gives details of how to nominate, Kids in Museums say:
You just have to tell us why your favourite museum should win. The more details you give about your visit, the better chance your museum has to make it to the longlist. So tell us as much as you can.
So what makes a good nomination?
There’s no such thing as a perfect nomination, and Kids in Museums like to keep the process as open as possible to encourage creativity. What follows is some pointers and some friendly advice that echoes what it says on the official page. So, what makes a good nomination?
We want to see more than “I nominate museum x”
We want to see a bit more than “I nominate museum x because it’s amazing/brilliant/wonderful”
We want to see what it is that makes the museum wonderful. Did the staff go out of their way to help you? Do they get really involved in the community?
It’s the details that really tell us about how exemplary the museum is, and we love to read about all the wonderful work they do – it’s really inspiring. One nomination that has become part of Kids in Museum’s Hall of Fame is about how a museum was hosting a coffee morning and invited a family that was new to the area. This small act of reaching out meant so much to the family, and their feelings really came across in their letter.
Kids in Museums also gives museums the chance to nominate themselves, and as with the visitor nominations, detail is key:
You just have to argue passionately that your museum should win, telling us why. The more you tell us, the better chance your museum will make it to the longlist. Be sure to include as many visitor comments and support for your nomination as possible. It’s a great chance to ask your visitors what they think.
This is a chance to really shout about what you’re doing. Again; “I work at museum x and would like to nominate it” doesn’t really cut the mustard.
Even going through the nomination process can make a difference, as this museum found out.
Some museums send in scrap books, others send in boxes full of stuff that reflects their work with families, some make videos to accompany their nominations, you can see the team watching some here:
They don’t have to be professionally produced, we’ve had some that were filmed on phones. It’s a chance to get creative more than anything else.
Remember: this isn’t a grant application.
The long list for this year has been selected and will appear in The Telegraph very soon. Good luck to everyone on it!
And remember, if you didn’t make it through this year, there’s always the next one! Remember: it’s the details that tell the story!