Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick, Northumberland, has been named overall winner of the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award 2021.
The award was announced this week in an online ceremony hosted by art dealer and broadcaster Philip Mould, who is president of Kids in Museums, the charity that oversees the award.
Now in its 18th year, the national award is given annually to a museum, gallery, historic home or heritage site that “goes the extra mile to provide a great experience for families”.
Bailiffgate was competing against 19 other museums nominated by the public and shortlisted by a panel of experts. The final decision on the prize was made by families who visited each of the shortlisted venues over the summer.
Kids in Museums said in a statement that the winner “blew families away with its welcoming volunteers and relaxed atmosphere”.
“Families loved exploring the Viking camp, following the museum mouse trail, being encouraged to get hands-on throughout, seeing information displayed at child height and the practical family facilities,” added the charity.
One family judge said the museum had been a “big hit” because of how relaxed it felt, with children “actively encouraged to touch and play with the exhibits”.
Further awards went to London Transport Museum for Best Medium Museum and the Horniman Museum & Gardens in south-east London for Best Large Museum.
The Postal Museum in London won the new Best Accessible Museum category, while Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and the Whitworth gallery in Manchester shared the prize for Best Digital Activity.
Mould said: “This year’s winner really exemplifies what the Family Friendly Museum Award is all about. At its heart is a group of devoted volunteers working hard to welcome and support their local community.
“Thanks to their efforts, Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery has excelled in allowing families to feel free to be themselves and to have fun and engage with the history inside the museum. After another difficult year for museums, it is great that we can highlight the excellent work that staff and volunteers are doing in Alnwick and across the UK. Many congratulations to all this year’s winners.”
The award is supported by Arts Council England.