Awards double whammy for Canterbury’s The Beaney

Child is dressing up clothes playing with building blocks at The Beaney museum

The Beaney is celebrating an awards double whammy this week.

Canterbury City Council’s museum, situated in the heart of Canterbury, was highly commended in the Innovation in Building Diversity and Inclusion category at the MJ Awards, the local government Oscars, on Friday (23 June).

The Beaney’s Mirror Mirror project, part of its pioneering work in the area of health and wellbeing, was recognised as one of the best in the country by the judges.

The project brought together community leaders, artists, museum staff, students and visitors to explore themes of representation and identity through portraits which went on to spark a whole host of conversations about representation.

The special exhibition included co-commissioning, with the help of community representatives, three new portraits for its permanent museum collection as part of its commitment to better representing 21st century Canterbury.

Canterbury City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Engagement, Cllr Connie Nolan, said: “The Beaney has been leading the way in placing museums at the heart of their communities with its increased focus on everyone’s health and wellbeing.

“That has never been more important in what are very turbulent times and I am really proud The Beaney’s efforts to foster a sense of togetherness have been recognised on the national stage.”

Visitor looking at the three commissioned portraits in the Mirror Mirror exhibition

Meanwhile, The Beaney is also in the running for a prestigious national award in recognition of its quality as a family attraction.

The Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award celebrates the most family-friendly heritage sites in the UK and is the only museum award to be judged by families.

Between late March and early June, families across the UK voted for their favourite heritage attraction on the Kids in Museums website, and a panel of museum experts then whittled down hundreds of nominations to a shortlist of just 18.

The Beaney is in the ‘medium museum’ category and is up against Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Great North Museum in Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, and the MAC in Belfast.

Dozens of comments were submitted about The Beaney during the voting period earlier this year, including:

“Amazing exhibition aimed at children and families. So much that the children could do no matter of age or ability. Very well put together.”

“Wow what a great museum; the best museum I’ve been to for children. The staff were all so friendly and helpful in each room.”

“The atmosphere is one of the most relaxed museums that I have been to, allowing families to spend as long as they need in any of the spaces, which makes a great free day out!”

Over the summer holidays, the museum will be visited by undercover family judges who will assess the shortlisted museums against a set of guidelines on what makes a great museum visit for all ages.

Their experiences will decide a winner for each award category and an overall winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2023. 

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in October.

Cllr Charlotte Cornell, Cabinet Member for Heritage, said: “The Beaney has so much to offer families and to have this formally recognised through a nomination for an award that is actually judged by families is extra special for us.

“From our brilliant galleries to a wide range of family events and exhibitions throughout the year, there’s something for all ages to experience and enjoy.

“Of course we won’t know when we’ve had our visit because the whole thing is done without us being told, but I am absolutely certain they will have a great time no matter when they come.”

Published: 27 June 2023

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