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National Justice Museum wins Best Museums Change Lives Project at Museums Change Lives Awards 2021
National Justice Museum wins Best Museums Change Lives Project at Museums Change Lives Awards 2021 featured image


The National Justice Museum has been awarded the Best Museums Change Lives Project at this year’s Museums Change Lives awards for our Make it Yours: Workshops in an Envelope project. 

When lockdown forced the free, weekly creative workshops at the museum to pause, we diverted budget and materials to reaching people isolating in their homes and in local prisons under 23 hour cell lockdown. The first workshop was inspired by an extraordinary soap sculpture in our collection. Realising the potential for this mindful creative activity to engage, soothe and mindfully distract people during a time of uncertainty, we launched a ‘workshop in an envelope’ that was produced and distributed during the Covid crisis. Further editions were developed- a traditional worry doll workshop has been shared to show love and solidarity, hundreds being made for display during Refugee Week. People shared their creations through social media, and some were displayed at the museum in the Power: Freedom to Create exhibition. 

Quotes from participants: 

“I picked up a soap and couldn’t stop carving, I’ve made loads, gifted to other men on the wing to cheer them up and traded some too” – Prisoner at HMP Leicester 

“I put my peg doll in my pocket to give me confidence to leave the house” - young person excluded from school

The Museums Change Lives Awards celebrate the achievements of museums that are making a difference to the lives of their audiences and communities across the UK.

The awards have four categories, including a new Digital Engagement Award, which recognises the best online responses to the coronavirus crisis.

The Best Museums Change Lives Project award recognises the best project in the past year that reflects one or more of the themes of the Museums Association’s Museums Change Lives campaign: Promoting Health and Wellbeing; Creating Better Places; and Inspiring Engagement, Reflection and Debate.

Andrea Hadley-Johnson, Artistic Programme Manager at the National Justice Museum said “We’re totally thrilled that our ‘Workshops in an Envelope’ have been recognised with a national award. The activities reached 3,000 people during the most challenging of times, using the museum collection as a source of inspiration to share compassion, ignite creativity and encourage conversation. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined us to coproduce and distribute the handcrafted packs, with love. This is what museums are for.”

Chief Executive of the National Justice Museum Victoria Reeves added “On behalf of all of us at the museum, we are so delighted that our work has been recognised in this way. Against the backdrop of lockdown, our team worked innovatively to think about how we could continue reaching out and engaging at the very time that people needed it most and we were thrilled at how well the workshops in an envelope were received and the reach they had. The project epitomised the work we are committed to around being arms open and reaching out to people, rather than always assuming that people will come to us – the project also reached those that could not physically visit us but still could contribute in a meaningful way.”


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