Craven Museum in Skipton Town Hall, North Yorkshire, has been announced as the winner of Kids in Museums' Family Friendly Museum Award 2023.
The free museum was named the best heritage site in the country for families at an awards ceremony in London on 19 October.
The title is awarded annually to one museum, gallery or heritage site in the UK that goes the extra mile to provide a great visitor experience for families.
Craven Museum was shortlisted in the Best Accessible Museum category, going on to win to the category and the overall Family Friendly Museum Award.
Skipton Town Hall, which includes Craven Museum, an exhibition gallery, concert hall and visitor information centre, reopened in June 2021 following a £4.7m redevelopment with accessibility at its heart. The building is wheelchair accessible with lifts, a Changing Places toilet, dementia friendly signage and audio-visual aids for museum displays. Staff have completed Autism Awareness training and offer sensory bags and monthly relaxed sessions for autistic visitors.
The Family Friendly Museum Award receives hundreds of public nominations each year, which are refined to a shortlist by a panel of experts. Families then visit each shortlisted museum over the school summer holidays to determine the winner.
The family judges who visited Craven Museum were impressed by the friendly staff and how easy it was for everyone to get hands on in the galleries with colour-coded family activities, dressing up, feely boxes, interactive screens and family trails tailored for different ages.
One family judge said: “This is one of the most accessible, family-friendly and welcoming museums I have visited across Britain. It is very inclusive and their website is a particularly strong point in terms of helping people to feel able and welcome to visit. People can visit the museum or attend an event knowing what to expect and what options are available.”
The award follows previous accolades for the museum, including Best Told Story from Visit England, and it was rated third out of 2,258 UK heritage sites for its online access information in the Heritage Access 22 Report. The building is also a designated North Yorkshire Safe Place and LGBTQIA+ Safe Space.
Fifteen museums were shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award in June, with the introduction of a new award category which recognises innovative and thoughtful projects engaging young people on the topic of the climate emergency and sustainability.
Winners in the Family Friendly Museum Award 2022
Overall Winner & Best Accessible Museum
Craven Museum, Skipton
Best Small Museum
Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
Best Medium Museum
The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury
Best Large Museum
Museum of Liverpool
Best Youth Project – Climate
Alison Bowyer, executive director of Kids in Museums, said: “Huge congratulations to the team at Craven Museum. The museum is making an outstanding effort to be a safe, welcoming and fun place for all families. This is truly an exemplar for the UK museum sector and shows what can be achieved through the dedication of a small but ambitious team. We hope families from across Yorkshire and beyond will enjoy visiting over the October half term.”
It is the second year running that a Yorkshire venue has won the award after the National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield took home the title in 2022.