The Horniman was named Best Large Museum at an online ceremony hosted by art dealer and broadcaster, Philip Mould. Judges were impressed by the huge number of nominations by local families, and praised the diverse exhibits, friendly staff, accessible facilities and focus on sustainability.
The prestigious annual award – run by charity Kids in Museums and now in its 15th year – recognises the most family-friendly heritage sites in the UK and is the only museum award to be judged by families.
From April to June, families across the UK voted for their favourite heritage attraction on the Kids in Museums website. A panel of museum experts then whittled down hundreds of nominations to a shortlist of 20 heritage attractions.
The Horniman was visited by undercover family judges who assessed all the shortlisted museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto. The overall winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2021 was Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick.
We are delighted to receive this award which is a huge boost for the staff and volunteers who work so hard to make the Horniman enjoyable and educational for our many family visitors. The award is a fantastic endorsement of the future of museums, and for the Horniman’s commitment to issues of climate, ecology and social justice. Thanks to Kids in Museums for highlighting the important work of all museums to be accessible to families.
The Horniman’s family-friendly highlights over the past year have included:
- keeping the Horniman Gardens open throughout lockdown, for families to escape, explore and recharge
- reopening the toilets and Sound Garden play area quickly (with safety measures in place) and prioritising provision of buggy parking outdoors and inside the Museum when it reopened
- running virtual Busy Bees sessions for under-5s and their parents
- creating of a series of arts and crafts videos to help with home schooling
- live storytelling in the Gardens for Black History Month in October 2020
- finding alternative ways to engage families in the reopened Museum, such as an activity trail, colouring sheets for kids to take home, and a commissioned film especially for under-5s that encouraged touch-free interactivity
- launching an Environment Champions Club aimed at families with children aged 6 to 10, providing activities and inspiration for positive actions they can do at home, at the Horniman and in their local community, and a network for local families to share tips and ideas.