A Day in the Life: Museum and Heritage Awards 2024

By Bridey Halliday

A hand holding a champagne flute and a card at for the 2024 Museum and Heritage Awards.

Recently the Thackray Collections team as well as our Café team were lucky enough to have been nominated for the Museums + Heritage Awards 2024, and had the privilege of travelling down to London to attend the ceremony.

After a two-and-a-half-hour train journey down south, we took the time to sight-see and partake in some of the local cafes and restaurants; such as a stroll around Coal Drops yard, a quick coffee and cake in Gail’s and a pasta lunch at Lina Stores.

The interior of Lina Stores

The café team were represented by myself and Lynne, our brilliant Retail & Cafe Manager. Thackray was nominated for ‘Café or Restaurant of the Year,’ the only category decided by popular vote. This was a particularly exciting nomination given the tremendous growth and change the café has had over the last year, and so it felt key to celebrate and commend the café team for their hard work in making it all possible.

The collections team – represented by Jamie and Natascha – were nominated for their phenomenal work on the ‘Private Parts’ temporary exhibition for the category of ‘Temporary or Touring Exhibition of the Year – Budget Under 80k’. This nomination was paramount in celebrating the success of the exhibit, as well as acknowledging the community effort that went into it with several people coming forward to tell their stories and providing impactful contributions to go alongside the physical aspects of the displays and give it depth and tact.

The galleries of Thackray’s Private Parts exhibition (2023).

The event took place in the glitzy Hilton Park Lane, with everyone dressed in their best. The venue was packed full of the very best in the sector, all enjoying a glass of bubbly on quite a warm evening. After a swanky three course meal, the awards ceremony got underway.

Sadly, neither award came home to Leeds with us. However, the museum was in very good company and it was an honour to have our efforts be recognised on such a large and prestigious platform with incredible reach in the museum and heritage landscape. It also helped to provide some inspiration, and put a spotlight on some very interesting and exceptional places and people.

We headed back to the hotel for a quick costume change and headed out into Soho to the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar, soothed by the cosy atmosphere, a drink, and a live band.

Post-awards ceremony jazz at Ronnie Scott’s.

The following day – after a very filling breakfast at The Breakfast Club – was spent wandering the city on foot and on train, picking up souvenirs and even visiting other museums including (but not limited to) the London Transport Museum and The Wellcome Collection, who had a very interesting art installation called ‘Jason and the Adventure of 254’. The exhibit explored the experience of Jason Wilsher-Mills when he was admitted to Pinderfields in his youth due to the sudden onset of an auto-immune disease.

The galleries from 'Jason and the Adventure of 254'.
Jason and the Adventure of 254 (2024) at Wellcome Collection

Another two-and-a-half-hour train journey that afternoon and we were back in lovely Leeds. All in all, it was an exciting experience and a much-appreciated opportunity – from both the awards committee and the museum itself – that we hope to replicate for the next set of awards and hopefully next time we can bring home the gold.