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Awards Categories 2021

All categories apply to projects/organisations based in the UK with the exception of the Exhibition of the Year – International and Best Use of Digital – International. Eligibility dates and entry fees are detailed within each category below. Just click on the category name to view full details.

COVID Special Recognition Award

Nominate someone you think has pushed themselves beyond all normal limits to make a difference to their organisation, colleagues, the wider sector or community during the pandemic.

From front of house to volunteers, cleaning teams to the board room, the job title matters not but their effort and determination, does. You are welcome to nominate anyone working in any UK museum, gallery or heritage visitor attraction or sector organisation – you don’t have to be their colleague.

The nominees will be whittled down to a shortlist which will be put to a sector-wide vote to determine the winner – the Pandemic Pioneer, the COVID Unsung Hero, whatever you want to call them, it couldn’t have been done without them!

Eligibility dates: 23 March 2020 to 31 March 2021
Entry fee: FREE

COVID Best Supplier Award

For the sector to re-open safely, it needed its suppliers and consultants to be agile, creative and focused on delivering solutions.

Much like the COVID Special Recognition Award, we are calling on all museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions to nominate businesses which have helped them through these challenging times. You are welcome to nominate companies and consultants as well as freelancers but they must have worked for or with you during the period of eligibility.

From signage to apps and multimedia guides, and from ticketing and IT to digitisation, the companies and individuals behind these services made a real difference. So, nominate those which helped save the day by adapting technology and products, delivering precisely what you needed, when you needed it and helping to ensure the reopening of your organisation was as safe and seamless as possible and/or continued operations during lockdown made possible.

Eligibility dates: 23 March 2020 to 31 March 2021
Entry fee: FREE

Volunteer(s) of the Year in partnership with AIM

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 2020. So, if you would like to give a very public show of appreciation to your volunteer(s) simply nominate the individual or team you thinking most deserving.

This important award is brought to you in partnership with Association of Independent Museums (AIM).

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: FREE

The Pandemic Pivot Award

With a bit of luck, the word pivot will be dropped from the dictionary when the pandemic becomes a distant memory but there is no denying that rapid response and a need to adapt to survive has been, and remains, critical.

We want therefore to recognise the astonishingly agile response demonstrated by so many organisations. This is a broad category but one which seeks to shine a spotlight on the boldest or most creative moves.  The category has also been split by organisation size:  <20 FTE paid employees and >20 FTE paid employees, giving everyone a fair chance, regardless of organisational size.

The judges will be looking for initiatives which were launched in direct response to the unique challenges of COVID and which can demonstrate a positive impact in terms of audience engagement during 2020 but which will also have a lasting legacy. The emphasis here is on how much the positive impact of change has been and the extent to which your organisation has adapted.

Eligibility dates: 23 March 2020 to 31 March 2021
Entry fee: FREE

Community Impact Award

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

Please tell us how your work continued and/or differed during lockdown and an era of social distancing, and explain the measures you took to achieve that and the impact your work has had on the communities you have engaged with. Ensure you describe the community you were working with and in describing the process for delivery, place particular emphasis on how you overcame the challenges presented by COVID or any other barriers to engagement.

Please describe the positive impact that this work has had on your community and provide evidence of outcomes – these could include returns visits, development of partnerships, etc

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Learning Outreach Award

The continued and vital work of Learning Departments during lockdown and beyond has been a lifeline for educators.

This award looks at how cultural organisations have successfully continued in their work to support early learning providers, home learners and schools, through blended physical and/or digital learning resources. Be clear about your objectives and define who the beneficiaries of the project were.

When describing your project be sure to tell us how you achieved your objectives, placing particular emphasis on how you overcame the challenges presented by COVID or any other barriers to engagement. Be sure to tell us about the positive impact your project has had on its participants as well as any wide-reaching benefit and ongoing legacy. Provide evidence of outcomes, reach and impact.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Fundraising Award

As the sector was thrown into financial crisis, museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions were forced to find new and creative ways to raise much needed funds.

Crowd-funding campaigns, live-streaming, virtual events and exhibitions, online quizzes or digital memberships, you name it the opportunities were as endless as they were challenging! This Award seeks to recognise those endeavours so be sure to give us all the facts and figures. Please note that this category does not include grant applications. 

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: FREE

Best Use of Digital - UK

2020 has been the year in which digital storytelling has come to the forefront, proving to be an essential tool for many organisations.

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 people in their homes. 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 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Best Use of Digital - International

2020 has been the year in which digital storytelling has come to the forefront, proving to be an essential tool for many organisations.

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 people in their homes. 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 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Best Use of Social Media

Keeping the conversation going during 2020 has been challenging, exhausting and exciting in equal measures.

From tik-tok to reopening videos, organisations have been honing their online craft, often introducing some much-appreciated levity into the mix whilst they were at it.

This special award will be given to the social media team or individual which has best managed to blend creativity whilst remaining true to its organisation’s brand, its collections and its stories.

Please include examples of your work and provide details of your goals, metrics and engagement statistics. Whilst numbers matter, the judges will be looking at them relative to the size of your organisation.  

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Partnership of the Year Award

Collaboration has never been more important and ‘we’re all in it together’ never truer. This award will be given to the most impactful partnership/collaboration which took place during the pandemic.

It must demonstrate how the partner organisations (at least one of which must be a museum, gallery or heritage attraction/organisation) looked to collaborate and share expertise during these exceptionally difficult times.

Our judges will look for partnerships that have achieved something which individual organisations could not have done on their own. Particular emphasis should be given to the impact the partnership has had and its lasting legacy. 

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Sustainable Project of the Year sponsored by National Lottery Heritage Fund

This award, in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, will be made to an outstanding environmentally sustainable project or exhibition which can demonstrate best practice in your approach to managing environmental impacts, for example energy efficiency measures, recycling and reuse, sustainable procurement and green visitor travel planning and encouragement.

Entries should also identify any wider economic, social or environmental benefits to the organisation or community which have arisen from ‘thinking sustainably’ particularly in the current difficult times.

 To see what The National Lottery Heritage Fund expects of the projects we fund see https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/good-practice-guidance/environmental-sustainability-guidance

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: FREE

Exhibition of the Year - UK sponsored by Displayways

In recognition of restrictions imposed during 2020, permanent, temporary and touring exhibitions have been combined into one category for this year.

This one-off is open to IRL (in real life) exhibitions as well as digital/virtual exhibitions. Particular attention should be given to the effectiveness of the exhibition in attracting audiences either in person or online and how social distancing and other COVID restrictions were overcome.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Exhibition of the Year - International

In recognition of varying restrictions imposed during 2020, the world-over, this category will seek to reward the best international exhibition of the year and includes new museums/heritage attractions, permanent exhibitions and also temporary and touring exhibitions.

It is open to IRL (in real life) exhibitions as well as digital/virtual exhibitions. Particular attention should be given to the effectiveness of the exhibition in attracting audiences either in person or online and, if relevant, how social distancing and other COVID restrictions were overcome.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Shop of the Year

During a year when museums and heritage attractions could no longer rely on ‘exit through the gift shop’ how did you use your retail offer to engage and generate vital revenue? Your shop can be permanent, temporary or online or a combination of all three. Importantly, please also demonstrate how your retail offer is on brand and how effectively it and its products link to the museum, its collection and its narrative. Within your application form, please be clear with your figures providing Average Transaction Value; Spend Per Head as well as Turnover, Gross and Net Profit. 

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year

The Show must go on and the care of collections and objects throughout the pandemic has been as important as it ever was.

This award will highlight the quality of work undertaken on restoration and conservation projects within the UK. 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 artefacts and buildings have been safe guarded for the future.

Eligibility dates: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Entry fee: £90 + VAT

Awards Sponsors & Partners