Tiny Alnwick museum is UK's most friendly

The tiny Bailffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick, Northumberland, is the winner of this year’s Family Friendly Museum Award.

The volunteer-run museum opened in 2002 in a former church near Alnwick Castle to highlight the area’s heritage, art and crafts.

The award has been run every year since 2004 by the Kids in Museums charity, and Bailiffgate saw off 19 other shortlisted contenders to win. The annual entry of hundreds is whittled down by a panel of experts, and the final say goes to families who visit each shortlisted museum over the summer holidays.

“This was our first time here and we had no expectations really, but it was such a big hit. We loved how relaxed it felt” said one family judge. “The children were actively encouraged to touch and play with the exhibits. The youngest ones loved searching for the museum mice, which was a lovely touch as it gave them something to focus on. The Viking exhibit was small and perfect… we had to drag them out for lunch, otherwise I’m sure they would have stayed longer.”

Three London museums were also recognised for their work with families with the London Transport Museum being voted the best medium museum, the Horniman in South London the best large museum, and the Postal Museum was deeme3d the most accessible, while the National Museum Wales and the Whitworth, Manchester, had the best digital activity.

Philip Mould, the art dealer and president of Kids in Museums, said the Bailiffgate exemplified what being family friendly meant. “At its heart is a group of devoted volunteers working hard to welcome and support their local community” he said in presenting the award today. “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”.

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