Museum Oskars 2014 – My Winners

February 7, 2014


All through January, museum lovers have been voting for their favourite museums in a number of categories, in Museum140’s first ever “Museum Oskars“. This week, all the results were announced, so now it’s time to share with you who my museum winners of the past year are.

Museum Oskars 2014 - Round 1

Best Special Exhibition

Vikings! The Untold Story” at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

This exhibition brought together over 500 amazing objects from the world-renowned collections of the Swedish History Museum, and turned all your preconceptions of Vikings on its head. Honorable mention also goes to “Lego Zeitreise” (Lego Journey Through Time) at the Helms Museum in Hamburg, Germany, because it was such a brilliant idea.

Best Interactive Experience

Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

This category is intentionally called ‘best interactive experience’ rather than ‘most interactive’, because quantity is not always the deciding factor. The telephone boxes from four different decades, spread around the Post & Tele Museum in Copenhagen, are a shining example of how something simple can sometimes be the most effective. They are all interconnected, and you can make phone calls from one to the other. Everyone in the family voted this as a favourite. Honorable mentions also go to the Currywurst Museum in Berlin, for a being a truly multi-sensory exhibit where you can look, listen, touch, smell and taste, and to the Computerspielemuseum, also Berlin – what better way to learn about the history of computer games than to play with them.

Best Event

Behind the Scenes Tweetup at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington D.C., USA

Seeing memorabilia from Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Ray Charles close up was just awesome! Honorable mentiosn also go to the National Museum of Scotland’s “Night of the Vikings“, and to Berlin’s “Lange Nacht der Museen“.

Museum Oskars 2014 - Round 2

Best Effort for Accessibility

Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany

Their creative solution to running a Tweetup in an exhibition that had no phone reception, was to bring the exhibition outside by hanging QR codes around the exterior of the building, which then linked to images of the discussed paintings in the exhibition catalogue.

Most Family Friendly Venue

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

You’re probably all sick of hearing me say how much I love the National Museum of Scotland, but it just feels like a museum that’s thought of all ages and family members, from their Magic Carpet sessions for 0-2 year olds, to their late night events just for adults. Families are truly welcome here. Honorable mention also goes to the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, Denmark – their website features a father with baby, when they could easily have chosen a mum or an older child. This really spoke to us, we felt families were truly embraced and not just tolerated.

Friendliest Staff Experience

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I’ve rarely come across museum staff at ticket desks and cloakrooms, that are as friendly as those I encountered at the Rijksmuseum. They were so damn happy, it put a big smile on my face for the rest of the day. Honorable mention also goes to the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen – we took part in a children’s workshop where everything was in Danish, and the staff took the time to translate and explain everything to us in English,  and they were also really friendly and welcoming.

Museum Oskars 2014 - Round 3

 Best Audio Guide

Ballinstadt Auswanderermuseum, Hamburg, Germany

I didn’t really use any audio guides last year, but I was very impressed with the audio stations that guided visitors around the Emigration Museum in Hamburg. A set of characters, which you encounter at various stops throughout the exhibition, tell you their emigration story.

Best Cafe/ Restaurant

I have to give a joint award here to two museums, as it was impossible to decide between them:

Internationales Maritimes Museum, Hamburg, Germany

The restaurant is called “Catch of the Day”, which really says it all. Sitting in a beach basket outside by the water in the sunshine, with a place of the freshest most delicious fish imaginable – what more could you wish for?!

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

Cafes that cater to customers with special dietary needs are still rare. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery not only serves gluten free cake, but rather than being pre-packaged cakes that have been bought in, they have freshly baked cake on offer, and usually more than one option. Big thumbs up!

Best Shop

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Such a great selection, I wanted to buy nearly everything in the shop! Honorable mention also to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. – the shop is relatively small, but you can buy your very own ‘Owney the Dog!

Museum Oskars 2014 - Round 4

 Biggest ‘WOW’ Moment

Behind the Scenes Tweetup at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

As mentioned above, seeing memorabilia of some of the greatest music legends up close, and getting the chance to talk to the curator of the collection, was amazing. Just WOW! Honorable mention also goes to Berlin’s Museum of Medical History – seeing the world’s largest collection of gall stones, including some of the world’s largest gall stones, was a ‘WOW’ moment of a very different kind.

Best ‘Hidden Gem’ Discovery

National Museum of the US Navy, Washington, D.C., USA

Despite numerous visits to Washington, D.C. in the past, it was not until last year that I discovered this (not so) little gem of a museum at the Navy Yard. Definitely worth a visit. Honorable mention also goes to the Buchstabenmuseum in Berlin, with its collection of letters and fonts from all over. It’s since moved to a new venue, but I’m sure it’s as fabulous as ever.

Personal Favourite of the Year

With over 100 museums to chose from last year, it seems like an almost impossible task to settle on a favourite. Again, I will have to give out a joint award here: one for overall favourite, and one for my favourite out of the museums I visited for the first time.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

No surprises for the overall favvourite. The National Museum of Scotland just has it all: a stunning building, amazing exhibitions, friendly staff, a lovely cafe, a great shop, and the best interests of families and visitors of all ages at heart. Honorable mentions also to the Naturkundemuseum, our all time favourite in Berlin, and the Jewish Museum Berlin, our ‘go to’ museum for Sunday afternoons.

Post & Tele Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Out of all the museums I visited for the first time last year (69 in total), the Post & Tele Museum really struck a chord. I’ve a soft spot for unusual, quirky or specialist museums, and particularly for postal museums. I would love to work here! Honorable mention also to the Tassenmuseum in Amsterdam, which made me look at bags in a whole new way!


So those were my favourite museums of the past year. As I mentioned, it was very difficult to chose, and there were many more fabulous museums among those that didn’t make the final cut. I would give them all an award! What were your favourite museums of the past year?


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