Craven Museum wins Family Friendly Museum Award 2023

Run by charity Kids in Museums, the national award is awarded annually to one museum, gallery or heritage site in the UK that provides a great visitor experience for families.

Craven Museum was shortlisted in the Best Accessible Museum category, going onto win the category and the overall Family Friendly Museum Award 2023. Skipton Town Hall, which includes the Craven Museum, the Exhibition Gallery, Concert Hall, and Visitor Information Centre, reopened in June 2021 following a £4.7m redevelopment, which 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. The Family Friendly Museum Award has become a benchmark for excellence in the heritage sector since it began in 2004.

Each year Kids in Museums receives hundreds of public nominations, which are whittled down to a shortlist by an expert panel. Families then visit 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: “They have the most wonderful staff who always go above and beyond for anyone with accessibility needs. They make it so easy to visit with young children, with a pushchair or a wheelchair thanks to careful planning, lots of space, and helpful staff. It makes visits much less stressful. Thank you!” 

Another 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, and 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.” It is the second year running that a Yorkshire venue has won the Award with the National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield taking home the title in 2022. The Family Friendly Museum Award has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England and generously supported by Benugo. Follow the Family Friendly Museum Award on social media by following the hashtag #FamilyFriendlyMuseum.

Announced in London on Thursday, all the winners of the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award 2023:

Winner: Best Accessible Museum + Overall WinnerCraven Museum, Skipton 

Winner: Best Small MuseumRoyal Cornwall Museum, Truro 

Winner: Best Medium MuseumThe Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury 

Winner: Best Large MuseumMuseum of Liverpool 

Winner: Best Youth Project – Climate Tullie, Carlisle 


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