Hertfordshire Association of Museums Awards 2018 - The Winners

Published: 20 Nov 2018

The historic surroundings of the North Hertfordshire Museum proved a delightful place to hold the first Hertfordshire Association of Museums Awards on Friday 16 November. The awards celebrated the very best projects and people involved with museums across the county with 10 museums entering for the chance to win a trophy.

The event was a great opportunity for staff, volunteers, local and county councillors and other stakeholders to network, discuss plans, projects and priorities to celebrate the great work that museums do in communities over tea and cake. Author Kate Griffin spoke to the audience about her Kitty Peck book series and the inspiration behind the dramatic Victorian crime series. She also spoke of her work for the Society of Preservation of Ancients Buildings and the value of heritage to local communities before helping to hand over the trophies to the winners.

The awards were judged by 5 independent judges recruited from the national museums sector.

The judges were amazed by the dedication of all those nominated for a Heritage Hero award. Judge Bryony Robbins, Museums Development Officer for Cornwall said that the winner Mrs. Yvonne Limbrick from British Schools Museum “showed amazing commitment and dedication, one wonders how the museum would have fared without her”.

Over 1000 people voted for their object of the year from a choice of six different objects. The overall winner with over 65% of the vote was Charlie the Chimp who lives at Watford Museum. Sarah Priestly Curator of Watford Museum was thrilled: “Charlie the Chimp is a Watford icon and it means so much to Watford Museum and the whole town to win this! Charlie shows just how much museum objects can mean to people, how they can bring back memories, bring us joy and bring us together as a community. It’s been so much fun seeing people get so passionate about supporting Charlie, telling us and each other their stories on social media, and having so much support, especially from into Shopping Centre and Watford Council.”

The independent British Schools Museum demonstrated yet again that they are a force to be reckoned with. The British Schools Museum based in Hitchin are well known within the local museum community for their ‘can do’ approach and they won the Accessibility Award with their brilliant web based project which uses remote volunteers. Volunteers were recruited to inventory the Jill Grey Book Collection of early education and childhood so that it can go online. Not only have they enabled volunteers who might be housebound due to disability or caring commitments the chance to offer their time to the museum, but they’ve also made a very significant collection accessible to the widest possible audience.

Project of the Year winners British Schools Museum wowed judges with their collaborative WW1 exhibition. The exhibition was designed, developed and installed in collaboration with a local not-for-profit organisation, ‘Herts at War’, and featured many personal loans from local people all across the county. For the first time, the exhibition was installed across the whole museum site, to create a ‘journey’ experience. Six soldiers from the Hertfordshire Regiment were selected, and feature in the exhibition: from the story of their childhood and enlistment, to their frontline experience and legacy.

The journey of these soldiers is also told through their personal artefacts- some heart-warming, others poignant. The recreation of immersive spaces also gives the visitor an opportunity to envisage what life for these soldiers may have been like, and visitors can get even closer to their personal history, with the opportunity to do research into their own family.

For Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon the transformation of a large room in their grade II listed museum into a new reception, shop, café, activity and meeting space has proved a springboard for ambitious thinking about the future development of the museum service. Awards Judge Lynsey Jones, Museum Development Officer and Accreditation Adviser, Museum Development North West remarked that this project was “a great model of how co-production can work”. Lowewood Museum took home the well-deserved Transformation Award.

Hertfordshire Association of Museums Awards will return in 2019, in the meantime you can go and have a look at all the projects and objects nominated at each of the museums. For more information, please visit www.hertfordshiremuseums.org.uk.