The Museum Oskars 2016 – My Winners

February 22, 2016


All through January, museum lovers have been voting for their favourite museums in a number of categories, in Museum140’s third “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 2016 - round 1

Best Special Exhibition

“Around the World in 80 Things” at the Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin

The excellent exhibition (which I previously wrote about) looked at the history and narratives of globalisation, following along the route of Jules Verne’s famous novel. Honorable mention also to “Tanz auf dem Vulkan”, an exhibition at the Ephraim Palais about 1920s Berlin as reflected in the arts, and to “Zurbarán. Master of Details” at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf.

Best Interactive Experience

Museum of Locks & Fittings, Velbert, Germany

The ‘Deutsches Schloss- und Beschlägemuseum’ is a rather small museum in a rather small German town, which we discovered pretty much by accident as it’s near to where my parents live and we were looking for some excursions to do when visiting them for five weeks last year. It tells the history of locks and fittings, from Ancient Egyptian times to the modern day. Almost every exhibit comes with a model or replica of the relevant locks and fittings on display, letting visitors really get to grips with what they are seeing. #MuseumBoy still asks about it almost a year later, wanting to know when we can visit again!

Best Event

Lange Nacht der Museen’

I’ve been to almost every single ‘Long Night of Museums’ since we moved to Berlin, but last year was different since I took #MuseumBoy with me for the first time ever. We had the most amazing night together, proving that sometimes it really is the company that makes or breaks an event! Actually, last year was full of great museum events, so honorable mentions also go to the tour of the Museum für Kommunikation Depot, the ‘Art Detectives’ Family Day at the Märkisches Museum, an the ‘Empty Bode Museum‘ tour, all in Berlin.

Museum Oskars 2016 - round 2

Best Effort for Accessibility

Surgeon’s Hall Museums, Edinburgh

The Surgeon’s Hall Museums in Edinburgh recently went through a major refurbishment, and oh my goodness, what a transformation! The new museum does a really excellent job of making the history of anatomy accessible to visitors, even including some hands on interactives.

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 Jewish Museum Berlin, which holds a special place in #MuseumBoy’s heart.

Friendliest Staff Experience

Museum in der Kulturbrauerei, Berlin

This museum, named after its location in Berlin’s ‘Kulturbrauerei’, tells the story of the former GDR. The museum itself is excellent, but I also don’t think I’ve ever received such a hearty welcome anywhere. When I arrived with a screaming #MuseumBaby, not only did they usher me in with a warm smile, they did their best to reassure me not to worry, babies cry, showed me the best place to sit and nurse him, and a little later checked in on us to see if we were alright. I was so moved by their kindness, I almost cried!

Museum Oskars 2016 - round 3

Best Audio Guide

Deutsches Historisches Museum/ Schwules Museum, Berlin

Without hesitation, the award has to go to the German Historical Museum and the Gay Museum in Berlin, for the audio guide that accompanied their joint exhibition ‘Homosexualität_en’. It followed the bus route that joins the two museums, and discussed points of interested related to the history of gay Berlin along the way. Can can still download the audio tour online.

Best Cafe/ Restaurant

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

We visited the cafe at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to have afternoon tea here on my birthday last year. The food was to die for – and all gluten free! – and the service  friendly, even with two fidgety young kids in tow, and the price very reasonable for what we were getting. Would definitely go here again!

Best Shop

The McManus, Dundee, Scotland

Such a lovely collection of things I don’t really need but all really want! Books, craft kits, home decor, local design pieces… Honorable mention also to the Natural History Museum Berlin – dinosaurs everywhere!

Museum Oskars 2016 - round 4

Biggest ‘WOW’ Moment

Gardens of the World, Berlin

I had no idea this place existed. A presentation of landscape gardening from around the world, each garden in itself is bound to make you go ‘Wow!’. The overall impact of it all is just mind boggling. An honorable mention also goes to the giant peacock at the German Blade Museum, made up of hundreds of scissors!

Best ‘Hidden Gem’ Discovery

As with the year before, I continued to make an effort to seek out little and lesser known museums, so again it was impossible to chose just one. The Museum of Locks and Fittings and the German Blade Museum, as mentioned above, both were among my favourites of new hidden gems I discovered last year. But as this point I’d really like to give a shout out the the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh, which we had a great family visit to last year, and whose future is now in danger!

Personal Favourite of the Year

With over 60 museums to chose from last year, it is 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 mention also to the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen – it brings me no end of joy to pop by there when I am in the city.

Skulpturenpark Waldfrieden, Wuppertal, Germany

Out of all the museums I visited for the first time last year (27 in total), this woodland sculpture park in the German town of Wuppertal was my favourite – what a fantastic resource to have right in the middle of the city! Honorable mention also to Verdant Works in Dundee, with its working machinery that demonstrated the jute production to us so well.


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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