Craven Museum named the best heritage site in the country for families.
Craven Museum in Skipton Town Hall has received the Family Friendly Museum Award 2023 for its outstanding work to welcome children and families.
Each year we award the prize to one museum, gallery or heritage site in the UK that goes the extra mile to provide an excellent visitor experience for children and families. Craven Museum was shortlisted in the Best Accessible Museum category, going onto win the category and the overall award.
Skipton Town Hall, which includes Craven Museum, the Exhibition Gallery, Concert Hall and Visitor Information Centre, reopened in June 2021 following a £4.7m redevelopment that had accessibility at its heart. It is a wheelchair accessible building 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.
From March to June, we received hundreds of nominations from the public and museums for the Family Friendly Museum Award, which were whittled down to a shortlist of 18 museums by an expert panel. Families visited each shortlisted museum over the summer holidays to decide the winner.
The family judges who visited Craven Museum were blown away 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. There is an action-packed and affordable events programme with a family event every day of the school summer holidays!
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.”
One of the families who nominated the museum for the award said: “I am partially blind but this museum is so accessible my visual impairment isn’t a barrier to getting into the museum and wandering around the place. Great exhibitions, good audio loops, super friendly staff who really go out of their way to help. This is how all museums should be, it really sets a very high standard for others to follow.”
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.
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.”
Danielle Daglan, Head of Culture and Archives at North Yorkshire Council said: “The team at Skipton Town Hall and Craven Museum are truly honoured to receive the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award 2023. This recognition highlights our ongoing efforts to create welcoming spaces where families can discover and connect with our rich cultural heritage. We are deeply committed to providing meaningful experiences for all visitors, and this award serves as a heartening affirmation of our dedication to inclusivity.
“The Kids in Museums Manifesto and resources have been instrumental in enhancing our delivery to families and we wholeheartedly appreciate the support, collaboration, and shared learning within the sector.”
Four other museums were recognised in today’s ceremony, winning their respective categories.
The full list of winners in the Family Friendly Museum Award 2023:
Winner: Best Accessible Museum + Overall Winner
Craven Museum, Skipton
Winner: Best Small Museum
Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
Winner: Best Medium Museum
The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury
Winner: Best Large Museum
Museum of Liverpool
Winner: Best Youth Project – Climate
Find out more about accessibility at Skipton Town Hall
Find out more about Kids in Museums and the Family Friendly Museum Award.