Fantastic for Families Award 2021 nomination

Bringing museums into families’ homes:
Barnsley Museums

Like many other arts organisations across the country, Barnsley Museums were faced with a difficult quandary during the pandemic, how to engage families creatively when they could no longer bring them into the museums? To solve this, the team at Barnsley Museums created a rich array of family arts provision during the pandemic, to support families to keep children engaged and creative in their homes. In recognition of the work that they’ve done, Barnsley Museums have been nominated for the Audience Impact and Innovation Award in the Fantastic for Families Awards 2021. Sarah Taylor from Barnsley Museums tells us how it all came about.

When Barnsley’s museums went into lockdown we wanted to make sure we were still offering families the chance to make memories – to learn, play and have fun filled adventures together. So, as part of our Under Fives programme, we set about creating content that brought families access to our treasures from home. We shared stories about owls that couldn’t fly, lions without manes, dance workshops inspired by Elmer the elephant as inspiration, hundreds of creative craft activities, online jigsaws for young children and event recipes for everything from bird seed cake to Victorian vegetable soup.

A Barnsley Museums Makes pack with instructions for making elf stockings

Parents told us how much they valued these simple, imaginative suggestions of activities and ideas to make and do together at a difficult time when many people were struggling for motivation, “I found this really helpful. I struggle with play and find it really hard to know what to do. We’ve played this afternoon and both had fun.”

Our ‘Barnsley Museums Makes’ packs provided over 14,000 children in the borough with beautiful, simple activity sheets and resources exploring themes connected to our collections through creative and playful activities, song, dance and stories. Families told us as well as the materials required to complete the activities, it was really helpful to get ideas for simple household objects that could also be used.

We’re so happy that we’re now able to welcome families back to our sites again but the pandemic has made us even more committed to continuing to develop our family provision in meaningful ways, using different tools so we can bring joy, curiosity and fun to even more families.

Barnsley Museums operates five sites across Barnsley: Cannon Hall, Experience Barnsley, Cooper Gallery, Worsborough Mill and the Elsecar Heritage Centre, each with its own unique opportunities to engage families through a varied programme of holiday and term-time under 5s workshops, family-friendly trails, activity packs and in-gallery interpretation across the 5 sites. 


“I found this really helpful. I struggle with play and find it really hard to know what to do. We’ve played this afternoon and both had fun.”
– Parent

1 November 2021

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1 November 2021