Museums in line for family friendly award

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Kids in Museums. Image: Quentin Blake

Two museums along the East London Line have made the long list for the biggest industry award in the country.

The Geffrye Museum in Hackney and the Horniman Museum in Lewisham are both in the running for the Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award, after being named in the UK’s top twenty.

The national prize is presented to museums that cater to child friendly criteria, which are assessed by Kids in Museums. The criteria include things like ‘lots of things to touch’ and ‘not being told off by staff’.

Dea Birkett, a Guardian writer and Director of Kids in Museums, founded the organisation in 2003 when her son was thrown out of the Royal Academy for shouting ‘Monster!’ at a statue.

Ms Birkett said: “What’s interesting is that over half of the points are not about the content of the museum, but things like clean toilets and a good gift shop; families just want a good day out.”

That is not to say that the museum’s exhibitions are not important. The Geffrye Museum is currently running its ‘Christmas past’ exhibit, which showcases gifts and traditions of the festive season in England from the last 400 years. In a nod to the recession, the main focus this year is ‘make do and mend’ and many items on display are home-made. The Geffrye Museum even has a dedicated kid’s zone on it’s website.

Alison Lightbown, Head of Learning and Education at the Geffrye Museum said: “We are delighted and very excited to be on the long list for the Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award. The Geffrye Museum is committed to providing a innovative, high quality, educational and fun programme for families.”


Janet Vitmayer, Director of the Horniman Museum said:“Kids in Museums is a brilliant campaign and we share its belief that Museums should be places for the entire community.”

The Horniman Museum is also earning its reputation for family-fun with a Christmas concert next Sunday (13 December). In the award-winning gardens, Santa is setting up a free grotto, and outside, the English Baroque Choir and Crystal palace Band will perform alongside carol singers. The stalls include toy stalls, roasted chestnuts and festive refreshments.

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