Mansfield Museum earns top education award

Curator, Liz Weston
Curator, Liz Weston

Mansfield Museum, on Leeming Street, has earned another prestigious award to add to its growing collection.

The museum has recently qualified for the Sandford Award, which independently assesses heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles on the quality of their education programmes.

The town's museum will be joining an illustrious list of almost 500 sites which have received an Award since the scheme began in 1978, including the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the official residence of the Queen in Scotland; Worcester Cathedral and London Transport Museum.

The Award, managed by the Heritage Education Trust in partnership with Bishop Grosseteste University, in Lincoln, focuses on curriculum-linked education opportunities offered to schools by heritage sites, as well as informal learning, such as family programmes.

Museum manager and curator Liz Weston MBE, who will receive the award with Museum Education Officer Geoff Liptrot at a ceremony in Bath on Wednesday, November 21, said: "It is a prestigious award and shows that our education service is of a high standard and it is also fantastic recognition for Geoff. It is the first time we have entered it and we are delighted."

In the report by Lead Judge Jean MacIntyre, the museum was highly rated for the overall quality of experience.

Geoff Liptrot was singled out for particular praise for providing "an engaging and inspirational educational programme".

The report stated: "The Museum Education Officer is charismatic and inspirational and brings the museum to life."

"He was very skilled at engaging and informing the pupils. He told captivating anecdotes about the artefacts he presented, providing social and historical contexts for the form and function of each one to ensure the pupils would remember them."

The judges assessed a school visit to the museum by a group of Year 3 pupils and noted that the youngsters were made to feel welcome in an effectively structured, well thought-out, well paced tour. The pupils also undertook practical activities.

The report, which commended the museum's 'Made in Mansfield' exhibition and the way the museum collaborated with teachers to develop its educational programme, said: "Mansfield Museum is absolutely worthy of a Sandford Award. Throughout increasingly challenging times the education team have crafted and delivered an excellent programme that meets the needs of a range of local schools and institutions.

"The Museum attracts many school groups simply because teachers know that an interesting and innovative day will be provided."

Cllr Dave Saunders, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Growth, said: "This a well-deserved award because the Museum and its staff work so hard to ensure the experience for all the museum's visitors is interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile.

"It is almost no surprise that the museum's awards shelf is beginning to creak under the weight of all the recognition it has received over recent years and I would like to add my thanks and praise for the fantastic work they do there."