The Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, has been shortlisted for the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award, it was announced today.

Charity Kids in Museums has run a prestigious annual award for the past 15 years, recognising the most family friendly heritage sites in the UK. It is the only museum award to be judged by families.

From April to June, families across the UK voted for their favourite heritage attraction on the Kids in Museums website. A panel of museum experts then whittled down hundreds of nominations to a shortlist of 20 heritage attractions.

Golden Thread Gallery is vying against five other museums in the Best Small Museum category.

GTG Deputy Director Sarah McAvera says: “We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. Golden Thread Gallery is a small organisation that punches above its weight, and making all our visitors feel welcome is very important to us. We love inspiring and being inspired by the next generation of creative talent, and we’re so happy to finally be able to open our doors and welcome families, children and young people back to the gallery!”

The Golden Thread Gallery offers a programme of contemporary art exhibitions and activities that aim to get as many people as possible interested and engaged with visual art. Admission to the Gallery, including all exhibitions, events, artist talks and family art workshops is always free of charge. The gallery supports and showcase emerging artists in Northern Ireland, and brings internationally renowned visual artists and their work to Belfast. Over lockdown GTG shared hours of online art events and activities for all ages and abilities – all available online on our Art & Learning page on the gallery website. GTG is wheelchair accessible, has baby-changing facilities, is breastfeeding friendly, has room for buggies and prams in our Junior Gallery family area and provides free tea and coffee for visitors. GTG also provides every young visitor under 16 with a free Gallery Explorer backpack with art materials, activities and a surprise! The GTG Social Story for autistic young people can be downloaded from the website, to help everyone plan their visit and feel comfortable exploring our exhibitions.

The museum will now be visited by undercover family judges who will assess the museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto. Their experiences will decide a winner for each award category and an overall winner of the Family Friendly Museum Award 2021. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in October.

Follow the Family Friendly Museum Award on Twitter by following @kidsinmuseums and #FamilyFriendlyMuseum.

The Family Friendly Museum Award has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England.

Notes to Editors

About Golden Thread Gallery

Golden Thread Gallery (GTG) has played an important role in the provision of contemporary visual art in Belfast and Northern Ireland since it was established in 2001. Our mission is to present quality and innovative artistic programmes that capture the diversity of contemporary arts practice, and which engage, educate, challenge and inspire. We strive to build and engage the widest possible audience for contemporary arts, extending the reach of the arts, nurturing a deep understanding and enjoyment of current visual arts practice within the broader community, while developing, supporting and promoting the work of contemporary Northern Irish artists and visual arts practice. The GTG is a recognised charity, and our core funders are the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. For more information, please contact Liz Byrne on [email protected] or 02890 330 920.

About Kids in Museums

KIM is a charity dedicated to making museums open and welcoming to all children, young people and families. It supports and champions family friendly organisations through wide-ranging initiatives, including the Family Friendly Museum Award and Takeover Day. It invites heritage organisations to sign up to its Manifesto, which sets out simple guidelines for making museums easy to reach for all ages. Find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About the Family Friendly Museum Award

Kids in Museums began the Family Friendly Museum Award in 2004 and the prize is now in its 15th year. The award champions museums who place families’ voices at the heart of their organisations.

Previous winners of the Family Friendly Museum Award include the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum (2019), Leeds City Museum (2018), the People’s History Museum in Manchester (2017) and York Art Gallery (2016).

In 2020, Kids in Museums held the Family Friendly Museum Award From Home, a special one-off award celebrating how museums and heritage sites supported families through lockdown.

The full list of museums shortlisted for the Family Friendly Museum Award 2021 is:

Best Large Museum

  • Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle
  • Horniman Museum and Gardens, London
  • World Museum, Liverpool

Best Medium Museum

  • London Transport Museum
  • The Box, Plymouth
  • ThinkTank, Birmingham
  • University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

Best Small Museum

  • Abbey House Museum, Leeds
  • Bailiffgate Museum, Alnwick
  • Dorset Museum
  • Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
  • Wisbech and Fenland Museum

Best Accessible Museum

  • Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
  • Postal Museum, London
  • The Egypt Centre, Swansea

Best Digital Activity

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. 

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Find out more at