Family Friendly Museum Awards: great museums for half-term (repost from www.telegraph.co.uk)
Thousands of readers have nominated museums for our Family Friendly Museum Awards. Here are the best longlisted entries to take your children to at half-term.
Fossils hidden in sandpits, a Victorian sweet shop and a tank full of frogs. It’s the thrill of the real that visitors were looking for in this year’s entries for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award.
As we all live in more virtual worlds, museums still offer real experiences with real things. That’s what makes them so special. As one young visitor said of longlisted M Shed museum in Bristol, ‘It’s interesting because it has older things than my Nan.’ But the very best family friendly museums don’t only let us look at their collection, but handle and hold it too. Children are no longer being told off for stroking the stuffed walrus or creaking open the wooden tea chest. Instead they’re being positively encouraged to do so. ‘You can get your hands on absolutely loads of things,’ wrote an 11-year-old about longlisted Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston. ‘There are touch screen games and lots of bags around the museum. In the bags are objects to feel and touch.’ At longlisted Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, families can be part of former times, with a bank to change modern money into farthings, a chippy serving meals wrapped in newspaper, and the old fashioned New Inn Public House where you can enjoy a pulled pint and sing-along.
From over 140 museums nominated by thousands of readers, the volunteer panel picked the top 20. Here are some of those longlisted museums which offer the very best of hands-on experiences over the half term:
North Lincolnshire Museum, 01724 843533 Egyptian Mayhem Week, 28-31 May. Free drop in Egyptian activities, crafts and object handling.
Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Devon, 01404 45006 Bees and Flowers, 30 May. There’s a buzz around this free family drop-in, as live bees in the gallery pose for your pastel or charcoal drawings. The workshop is led by artist Kate Lynch, to coincide with her ‘The Beekeeper and the Bee’ exhibition.
Coalport China Museum, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire , 01952 435900 Drop in workshop, 27 May. Paint a mug inspired by the floral designs on Coalport China.
National Maritime Museum Cornwall, 01326 313388 Magnificent Marine Biology Supersized Saturday, 1 June, led by marine ecologist Maya Plass from BBC Springwatch. You can even take control of an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to explore the waters right outside the museum.
Saffron Walden Museum, Essex, Young Super Sleuths, 29-30 May. There’s been a break-in at the museum and one of the mummies is missing. Have you got the Sherlock Holmes-style detective skills required to help museum staff retrieve the stolen mummy? You’ll be told how to crack codes, search for evidence and match fingerprints.
Nottingham Contemporary, 01159 489750 UV Drawing Extravaganza, 1-2 June. Inspired by the gallery’s UV Gallery, use glow sticks, white pens and tape to create glowing patterns and pictures under UV light.
Rural Life Centre, Surrey, 01252 795571 Free Activity Thursday, 30 May. Old fashioned fun for families, including discovering a furnished Prefab, tiny wooden chapel tin hut schoolroom. There’s even a 1950s playground for kids.
Longlist for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Awards
Beamish Museum, County Durham 01913 704000
Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, Falkirk, 01506 822298
Brixham Heritage Museum, 01803 856267
The Cardiff Story / Stori Caerdydd, 02920 788334
Compton Verney, Warwickshire, 01926 645500
Geffrye Museum, London, 02077 399893
Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, 01772 258248
Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, 02086 991872
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire, 01952 435900
M Shed, Bristol, 01173 526600
Museum in the Park, Stroud, 01453 763394
INTECH Science Centre & Planetarium, Winchester, 01962 863791
National Maritime Museum Cornwall, 01326 313388
Nature in Art, Gloucester,, 01452 731422
North Lincolnshire Museum, 01724 843533
Nottingham Contemporary, 01159 489750
Rural Life Centre, Surrey, 01252 795571
Saffron Walden Museum, Essex,
Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Devon, 01404 45006 Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Cumbria, 01228 618718
The Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award — What Happens Next?
The 20-strong longlist is put before a panel of experts, chaired by Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The panel whittles down the longlist to a shortlist of Britain’s most family friendly museums. This shortlist is then road-tested anonymously by families.
Would your family like to help pick the winner?
Then email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about Kids in Museums and the Award at Kids In Museums