Fun Facts: Kids in Museums’ Family Friendly Museum Award

Today, the Kids in Museums Team is sitting down together to go through all the nominations for the Family Friendly Museum Award for 2016, to sift through all the emails, sketchbooks, letters an the rest of the nominations whatever form they take. It’s one of my favourite things about working with such a wonderful organisation, we get to see first hand what people love about their museums and we get to see all the amazing work museums, galleries, heritage sites and cultural venues do.

Yes, we use ‘museum’ in the widest possible sense.

The Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award
The Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award

The award has been running for several years now, and has developed quite the interesting history. As part of my work at Kids in Museums, I have done some research and here are 21 fun facts about the Family Friendly Museum Award.

  1. The Award was introduced in 2003, but the very first winner wasn’t selected until 2004. Kids in Museums has been crowning Family Friendly Museums for 12 years now.
  2. The first winner was the somewhat depressingly monikered Killhope Mining Museum in 2004.
  3. We have had two double winners of the award – the first was Oxford University Museum of Natural History alongside the  Pitt-Rivers Museum. They both won in 2005
  4. The second lot of double winners were the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London and  Brixham Heritage Museum from Devon  in 2013.
  5. In 2012 we worked with the Telegraph for the 1st time, previously Kids in Museums had partnered with the Guardian. Haslemere Educational Museum won that year, becoming the very first Telegraph Family Friendly Museum.
  6. Although the Award has a competitive aspect, its not all about the winning; in 2015 Caerphilly’s Winding House won a special commendation for their community work.
  7. 2015 was a record breaking year – the team had 850 nominations to go through!
  8. The National Waterfront Museum was the first Welsh museum to make the shortlist in 2006
  9. There wasn’t a Scottish museum on the shortlist until 2008 when the Shetland Museum made it
  10. Although Scotland and Wales always have a strong showing, there hasn’t been a finalist from Northern Ireland yet. Maybe this year will be NI’s year?
  11. Cornwall’s Falmouth Art Gallery ties with the Horniman Museum for most appearances in the shortlist. They have both made it to the finals 3 times.
  12. Due to the timing of the award, there aren’t winners for 2007 and 2009.
  13. Persistence pays off – London’s Geffrye Museum  has been long listed 4 times over the last 12 years. They finally made it to the short list in 2015 – will this year be their year?
  14. On that note, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery had been long listed 3 times before winning in 2015.
  15. Similarly, Falmouth Art Gallery were shortlisted twice before finally winning!
  16. Although several museums have been shortlisted several times, no one has won the Family Friendly Museum Award twice yet.
  17. There’s no one topic that stands out as ‘family friendly.’ Over the years, we’ve had natural history, art, maritime history, industrial history ancient history and anthropology all represented by past winners.
  18. Some nominations have become part of the furniture at Kids in Museums HQ like this pyramid sent in by Henley’s River and Rowing Museum in 2015.

    A home-made pyramid from the River and Rowing Museum
    A home-made pyramid from the River and Rowing Museum
  19. This is the only museum award whose winner is judged purely on family feedback!
  20. In the past, our short listing panels have included some famous faces such as children’s author Damien Dibben, and Game of Thrones actress Hannah Murray.
  21. Sometime, having a specific speciality can help a nomination stand out from the crowd. In 2015 the Science Museum made it on to the long list based on its work with visitors with autism. The Science Museum had previously made the long list in 2014

So there you go – 22 fun facts about the Family Friendly Museum Award so far. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings! Keep your eyes peeled for the shortlist announcement coming soon.


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