Meet Leeds City Museum: Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2018

Meet Leeds City Museum: Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2018


[Music] Leeds City Museum reopened in this building
in 2008 following Heritage Lottery funding. It showcases the collections of Leeds museum
and galleries from natural history to the history of Leeds to Ancient Worlds. So our
famous exhibits include the Leeds Tiger in the Life on Earth gallery and we have Nesyamun,
which is a mummy of an Egyptian priest – very popular with children. We have over 300,000
visitors a year which includes about 90,000 children coming to activities
that are family friendly. We offer a very varied programme. There’s so much going on it’s hard
to keep up sometimes! We have an under 5 programme so we run Tiny
Tigers every Friday which the front of house staff run. We do a multi-sensory room for
under 5s, and we do Saturday club for families. We do school holidays activities all through
the school holidays. We also have a multi-sensory room for families with additional needs which
we run every school holiday, so it’s very varied. We tend to think of Leeds City Museum as the
hub of the community of Leeds so I think it’s important that there is
something for everybody. So starting from mothers with young babies and their toddlers to come into a safe place
where they can enjoy different activities and get to know the museum and its collections.
And I think once they feel safe and it’s a place they want to come to, and then they
will keep coming back. And we know that that happens. So we’ve had children that have
come from when they’re under 5 and now belong to our Preservative Party, our youth group.
So it’s nice to see them from the beginning right to the end of their childhood. I’ve known of Kids in Museums awards
right back from when it began and at another museum I worked in in Leeds,
we did apply then and got as far as the shortlist,
which was fantastic. I knew of how much work the whole team had
put in and how we’d built up our profile. I thought it was important to celebrate all
the work that happens and all the families that have come and joined us and made the
museum what it is today. For the application for Kids in Museums, first
of all I found it online quite easily. And I knew of the Manifesto and we continue to
work with that Manifesto and it’s a very good outline to help us to keep that in mind
all the time in all our work. We knew that several families had wanted to nominate us,
so we shared on Twitter and social media that the Kids in Museums award was open for nominations
and that was very useful to share that information. And then I could send in some additional information
that we had from all the feedback that we have from all the workshops and how many people
come and what they think about it, because we’re always taking feedback and that’s
really important. And then to be able to share it in one place to show the wide experiences
that people can have here. The Kids in Museums award allows us to put that all in one place
and celebrate that. So I found it very easy. And then when we were shortlisted, that was
fantastic. So during the shortlisting period when we
knew that and could share that again on social media and through press coverage so that the
city could then get behind us and celebrate their city and their museum. So yes we had
press coverage. We had support from the local councillors which is important to us as we’re
a large local authority museum. When the announcement was made that we’d
won the Kids in Museums Family Friendly award we were absolutely gobsmacked. We were stood
at the back of the room, I went down with three of my front of house staff and we were
casually there with a glass of something and waiting for the buffet and we were amazed.
That was so amazing because there were so many amazing museums nominated. So we were
over the moon and particularly the front of house team, they were very proud. Winning the Family Friendly award has been
really positive. We’ve continued to build the audiences so people that have known that
City Museum was here have come and said: “I can’t believe we haven’t been before – that’s
amazing!” So yes, we’ve had more visitors. We’ve just had February half term, which
is normally the busiest half term, apart from October, in the year, and that Tuesday which
is always the busiest was the busiest ever and I’ve been working in museums for over
25 years. And it was chock-a-block, from the café to the activities to the shop, so the
knock-on effect then is that it helps us sustain our business. We run our own café and our
own shop, so just from more people coming into the museum raises the profile, raises
income, so it works in all sorts of positive ways. I would really encourage other museums to
apply for the Family Friendly award. It’s such a positive experience from making a record
of what you do and being proud of what you do, to celebrating with the people that you
work with, the families that enjoy coming and supporting you. It has all sorts of positive
ramification from the local councillors supporting us across the service and all your colleagues
at all the different museums. It’s a real celebration of all the work that we put into
making museums family friendly. [Music]

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