Awards Categories 2023

We have a mix of the familiar and the new for 2023! We have free-to-enter categories, paid-for categories, new special nomination awards, and two international categories.

All categories apply to projects/organisations based in the UK with the exception of two which are open to international entries: International Exhibition of the Year and Best Use of Digital (International).

Below, you can view the outline category criteria, eligibility dates and fees, where applicable. Each category also has its own entry form with a series of questions. You will be able to view and download the blank form within the entry platform, when you start your entry. It’s quick and easy to enter but do follow our step-by-step How To Enter guide!

Entry deadline:  23:59 hrs (GMT) on Wednesday 1 February 2023

HOW TO ENTER
NEW!

Team of the Year

This new Award seeks to recognise the work of the teams in your organisation which are not forward-facing.

Entry criteria | Read more

HR, finance, cleaning, grounds maintenance and collections care staff are just a few of the eligible teams carrying out essential work.

The award is intended to celebrate great teamwork which has had a positive impact and which makes a difference in the day-to-day running of your organisation.

The judges will be looking for evidence of consistent good practice, commitment to positive change, collaborative approach and all-around outstanding performance.

This is a chance to show your appreciation for the positive impact that your nominated team has had on your organisation.

What better way to say thank you than to nominate them for Team of the Year?

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

NEW + FREE TO ENTER!

Sector Support Award

There are many moving parts to our sector and this new category has been designed to shine a spotlight on the individuals, organisations and businesses that help drive it forward.

Entry criteria | Read more

Their agility, creativity and solution-driven focus are crucial to the success of museums, galleries and heritage and cultural visitor attractions. Where would we be without them?

The judges are seeking to reward those whose work has supported and enhanced the sector as a whole, or which can demonstrate the tangible difference made to its clients. We invite entries from freelancers, consultants, associations, sector support organisations, partners and suppliers.

You can nominate someone else or you can make your own evidence-based submission.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

FREE!

Sustainable Project of the Year

This important award, in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, will be made to outstanding environmentally sustainable projects or exhibitions which can demonstrate best practice in your approach to managing or communicating environmental impacts. The winner will be offered a year’s free membership to Fit For the Future.  

Entry criteria | Read more

Up to two winners will be selected:

1. one which has used simple, affordable and easily-transferable approaches, like our 2019 winner, Museum of Oxford.

2. one which is a project with environmental sustainability embedded at its heart, like our 2020 winner, Jubilee Pool.

Entries should demonstrate how their project or exhibition has used, for example, energy efficiency measures, green visitor travel planning or unique approaches to engaging audiences with the climate crisis.

Entries should also identify any wider economic, social or environmental benefits to the organisation or community which have arisen from ‘thinking sustainably’.  Capital projects in particular might wish to demonstrate how they deliver against relevant UN Sustainability Goals

As a guide, to see what The National Lottery Heritage Fund expects of the projects it funds, explore its environmental sustainability guidance

Your application must apply to projects which were delivered during 2022.

FREE TO ENTER!

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

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FREE!

Volunteer(s) of the Year

Across our sector, volunteers give up their time to help your organisation. They do it willingly, not for reward, but we think we should celebrate their hard work and the contribution they have made during the challenges of 2022.  And this your chance to thank your volunteers!

Entry criteria | Read more

So, if you would like to give a very public show of appreciation to your volunteer(s) simply nominate the individual or team you think most deserving. This important award is brought to you in partnership with Association of Independent Museums (AIM).

FREE TO ENTER!

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter eligibility section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

In partnership with

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Visitor Welcome Award

When a visitor arrives at your organisation, they are choosing to come to you rather than going to the cinema, park or shopping centre. You are competing for their leisure time and so a smile and customer-focused service can transform their experience.

Entry criteria | Read more

This important award seeks to celebrate the greatest visitor experience and the most welcoming atmosphere.

Understanding, knowing, listening and communicating with your visitors is at the heart of this category and, from start to finish, impressions count. Please describe what your organisation has done to ensure that your visitors get the best welcome ever.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

Sponsored by

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Café or Restaurant of the Year

No cultural visit is complete without a trip to its café or restaurant. Increasingly, visitors have come to expect it as part of their visitor experience.

Entry criteria | Read more

Important to brand and reputation, and a driver of footfall and secondary revenue, the look, feel, ambience, service, and quality of produce are all key to success. As visitor expectations increase, the culinary landscape is evolving; out with stewed tea and white sliced bread and in with destination experiences, local sourcing and sustainable operation. No longer an adjunct, a great café or restaurant should reflect your organisation’s personality, be relevant and respectful of its locality and a destination in its own right.

Your entry should be a regular fixture of your public offer and focus on the customer experience. You must also ensure that you provide the facts and figures including turnover, average spend and profit. Full consideration will be given to the relative size of your organisation and catering space. So please be sure to include all the facts and figures.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

Permanent Exhibition of the Year

Entries should highlight excellence in the creation of a new museum, redevelopment of an existing one or a new permanent exhibition within the period of eligibility.

Entry criteria | Read more

The judges will be looking for evidence of innovative design and interpretation within the project brief and budget. Full consideration will be given to budget in relation to size and scope of project so please be sure to include all of the *facts and figures*. All figures and costs are treated in confidence.

Particular attention should be paid to the impact the exhibition has had on the overall museum, gallery or heritage attraction as well as to its visitors.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

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Temporary or Touring Exhibition of the Year

A highly competitive category, the judges will look to reward two temporary or touring exhibitions – one with a budget (ie total delivery costs) of up to £80,000 and the other for more than £80,000 ex VAT.

Entry criteria | Read more

The Total Cost of Delivery should cover all core costs for the creation and running of the exhibition for the period relating to the submission: design, implementation and running of the exhibition including staff costs. Please be clear in the presentation of your figures so that the judges can ensure that we are comparing like with like.

Entries for this award should highlight excellence in the creation of a temporary or touring exhibition, designed to be featured within a museum, gallery or heritage attraction. Particular attention should be given to the effectiveness of the exhibition in attracting new and diverse audiences in to the museum, gallery or heritage attraction. The exhibition must have been open to the public within the period of eligibility.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

in partnership with

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Shop of the Year

Looking not only at profit but the entire retail operation during the period of eligibility, this award aims to honour the leaders in our sector.

Entry criteria | Read more

In convincing the judges of why you should scoop the Best Shop Award, please provide the following figures: Average Transaction Value; Spend Per Head as well as Turnover, Gross and Net Profit plus percentage increases on the previous year (unless new).

Tell us about your conversion rates – the percentage of visitors buying from your shop and how these have changed in relation to the visitor numbers. Importantly, please also demonstrate how your shop is on brand and how effectively it and its products link to the museum, its collection and its narrative.

Your shop can be permanent, temporary or online or a combination of all three. In all instances the judges will be looking for impressive results as well as considering the overall customer experience. Please ensure all figures are included in your Entry Paper and not just in your Supporting Material.  Consideration will be given to the relative size of your organisation.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

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Learning Programme of the Year

The continued and vital work of museum and heritage organisations’ learning colleagues is a lifeline for educators. This award looks at how cultural organisations successfully work to support early learning providers, home learners schools and further education providers, through formal blended physical and/or digital learning resources.

Entry criteria | Read more

Please be clear about your objectives and define who the beneficiaries of the programme are/were. When describing your work be sure to tell us how you achieved your objectives, placing particular emphasis on the impact it had on teachers and learning audiences including primary, secondary and SEND schools and FE/HE providers.

Please include numbers – explain how many people benefited and what increase in engagement there has been. The judges will also be looking at how programmes are relevant to local audiences as well as supporting local and national strategies.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

in partnership with 

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Community Engagement Programme of the Year

This award will be given to the organisation which best connected with those members of its community who face the greatest barriers to engagement, perhaps as a result of socio-economic disadvantage, digital poverty, disability or age.

Entry criteria | Read more

Ensure you describe the community you were working with and in describing the process of delivery, place particular emphasis on how you overcame any barriers to engagement. Please describe the positive impact that this work has had on your community and provide evidence of outcomes – these could include new and returns visits, shifting demographics, development of partnerships, etc. 

Please describe how your community engagement work is tailored to meet the needs and interests of specific target groups, to offer wider access to your organisation, its collections and stories.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

Marketing + Communications Strategy of the Year

This award will be given for the most effective public marketing or communications strategy for a temporary or permanent exhibition or an overall museum, gallery or heritage visitor attraction.

Entry criteria | Read more

This can consist of a sustained campaign or a one-off initiative. Entries can cover events, viral marketing, fundraising campaigns, use of social media, advertising, PR, sponsorship activities etc but must demonstrate creativity and originality, a provable impact and clearly illustrate an effective return on investment. Be sure to be clear about the impact your strategy has had in terms of visitor numbers, new audiences and/or engagement.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

Partnership of the Year Award

This award will be given to the most innovative and impactful partnership project or programme.

Entry criteria | Read more

The project or programme should involve at least one museum, collection or heritage/cultural site or organisation, and one or more additional partners (which may be non-museum or heritage organisations). Judges will look for partnerships that have achieved something which individual organisations could not have done on their own, and which demonstrates creativity and had a significant impact on people, collections or place. Particular emphasis should be given to the impact the partnership has had and its lasting legacy.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

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Best Use of Digital 

The digital transformation continues. Digital storytelling has come to the forefront, proving to be an essential tool for many organisations and the process of using digital technologies to create new – or to modify existing – visitor experiences is ever more important.

Entry criteria | Read more

The sector continues to face the challenge of balancing digital with in-person experiences whilst continuing to harness the benefits of online reach. The focus of this award is not on the digitisation process itself but on how organisations have used their online presence to take collections and stories to new audiences. Examples might include streaming of live events, new digital experiences, commercial partnerships, online games, etc. 

Entries must demonstrate how you have successfully altered your digitised offering to reach new audiences, in new and creative ways, as well as using these tools to enhance other activities such as commercial or learning. Consideration will be given to the relative size of your organisation.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details   
Open to UK organisations only

In partnership with

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Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year

This award will highlight the quality of work undertaken on restoration, repair and conservation projects within the UK.

Entry criteria | Read more

Judges will look at how a project has been managed and implemented from conception to completion. Your entry must clearly demonstrate rigorous project and conservation planning and processes.

The category is open to the restoration and conservation of single objects through to entire buildings.

Particular attention will be given to how the project has enhanced public access whilst ensuring important historical objects and buildings have been safeguarded for the future.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open to UK organisations only

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INTERNATIONAL

Exhibition of the Year – International

From small but perfectly formed exhibitions to global blockbusters as well as new museums/attractions, submissions are welcome from all but the location must be outside of the UK.

Entry criteria | Read more

This category is open to museums, galleries, archives and heritage visitor attractions, organisations, charities and bodies plus their suppliers, contractors and partners.

Your entry should highlight excellence in the creation of a new museum or heritage visitor attraction, redevelopment of an existing one or a new exhibition, either permanent or temporary/touring, within the period of eligibility.

The judges will be looking for high-quality innovative exhibitions, well-executed within the project brief and budget. Particular attention should be paid to creative approaches and the impact the exhibition/new venue has had on new and existing visitors.

For designers and contractors wishing to enter this category, it is imperative that the submission is made jointly with your client.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open only to exhibitions outside of the UK only

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in partnership 

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INTERNATIONAL

Best Use of Digital – International

The digital transformation continues. Digital storytelling has come to the forefront, proving to be an essential tool for many organisations and the process of using digital technologies to create new – or to modify existing – visitor experiences is ever more important.

Entry criteria | Read more

The sector now faces the challenge of balancing digital with in-person experiences whilst continuing to harness the benefits of online reach. The focus of this award is not on the digitisation process itself but on how organisations have used their online presence to take collections and stories to new audiences.

Examples might include streaming of live events, new digital experiences, commercial partnerships, online interactives, etc.  Entries must demonstrate how you have successfully altered your digitised offering to reach new audiences, in new and creative ways, as well as using these tools to enhance other activities such as commercial or learning. Consideration will be given to the relative size of your organisation.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
Please refer to the How to Enter section for further details 
Open only to projects created outside of the UK

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