York Art Gallery

Gaby Lees

Assistant Curator of Arts Learning, York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery Exhibition Square York YO1 7EW United Kingdom


York, United Kingdom
Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2016


Fuzzy Felt And Fine Art




Yorkshire: "Gods Own Country" where rhubarb is grown in the dark and harvested by candle-light, where the coastal cliffs are brim-full with dinosaurs and the "wuthering" moors are trod by poets. There at its heart, just two hours north of London by rail, lies the city of York: "Capital of the North". Just scratch the city's skin and history pours out. York saw the deaths of two Roman Emperors and from York a succession of Viking Kings ruled The Danelaw. As visitors approach, York's Medieval Minster still dominates the sky line and the mediaeval walls still greet them. York is a small but beautiful city, full of surprises.


York Art Gallery houses the city's fine art and ceramic art collections. The gallery reopened in 2015 following major refurbishment, subsequently winning numerous awards. The gallery was a finalist for UK Museum of the Year in 2016 and received a special commendation from the European Museum of the Year Award judging panel in 2017.
The reviewer for the Museums Journal said the gallery was "probably one of the best museums I've been to."

But the accolade for which York Art Gallery is most proud, is the Telegraph's Kids in Museum's Family Friendly Museum Award 2016. The award is given annually to a UK museum nominated by the public. Shortlisted museums are judged anonymously by visiting families.

This is the most important thing that's happened to York Art Gallery since we reopened. This award celebrates our welcome and what real visitors and families experience..... Reyahn King, Director of York Museums Trust

Over the two years the gallery was closed for the refurbishment process, the gallery team set about developing our practice and researching how we might build on our strengths. We visited other venues and held public consultation sessions. We investigated different approaches to interpretation and visitor participation and developed a set of principles to work by.

As the main point of contact with our visitors it is crucial that exhibitions are welcoming and inclusive, with comfortable seating and layers of interpretation which facilitate engagement and access for all regardless of: age, cultural background, physical or sensory ability,intellectual ability or prior knowledge of art.
Wherever possible, interpretation will be delivered through the curation and presentation of the art objects themselves by having exhibition themes and/or grouping artworks in ways which enhance the overall interpretation of each individual artwork.

Additional interpretation will encourage visitors to look again or look differently at the artworks and written interpretation will follow guidelines on accessibility.

Interpretation will include other voices such as: the artist who made the art,another artist, representatives of our diverse audiences,experts from fields other than art, and will be presented in a variety of ways including: labels,video,audio, books and stories,interactive elements including objects to handle, games, toys and drawing materials.

Whenever possible, interpretive material will be an artwork in its own right.

When commissioning and exhibiting artworks, accessibility will be considered:artworks which can be experienced through touch, sound, smell, taste or movement. Artworks which can be presented in novel ways (on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, outside in the gardens,) or which involve the participation of the audience.
The front of house team (renamed the Welcome Team) will be fully trained to facilitate the best customer service. They will be kept informed by curatorial staff about the artworks on display. They will research artworks which appeal to them and give regular short public talks.


Visitor Comments:

I have two fabulous, spirited children who are three and one. We go all over the place and do all kinds of things, but as anyone with two littlies will attest to, they can be a handful! We have the luxury of numerous fabulous museums and other entertainment close at hand, but the one they, well, the non-stop chattering three year old, ask to go to the most is the art gallery.....e-mail to Kids in Museums, June 2016

I really enjoyed this gallery especially the unusual and interesting way it is curated. Ceramics are often very dull in how they are presented but this gallery really brought them to life. Well worth a visit..... Kate C, TripAdvisor April 2017

/There was so much to see in this newly refurbished gallery. We went with our assistance dog, Katie (who was welcome) two "tweenage" boys and me in the wheelchair and I must admit I was dreading breakages! But we were pleasantly surprised how much hands on and interactive stuff there was and how well laid out it was for disabled visitors. Right in the middle of town so an excellent place to bolt to on a rainy afternoon.....Katie O, TripAdvisor October 2015

I really enjoyed my visit and especially appreciated the fact you could touch some of the sculptures and loved the living room style with lots of sofas and books to read through. I felt really comfortable the whole time and staff popped over a couple of times to chat and ask how I was finding it/ inform about a few pieces I'd been looking at. I really liked this and could have stayed for hours!.... Sally D, TripAdvisor April 2017

Galleries are often seen as serious and sombre places where people with beards nod at paintings ... not this one!!! This is amazing and a very interactive and hands on space. Lots to see, lots to do. .... CaptainFlash, TripAdvisor June 2016

With an active 3 and 6 year old in tow, we expected to spend about an hour in the Art Gallery - we actually were there for 3 and could have easily stayed longer! Child friendly activities were in each gallery, keeping them occupied and engaged - for example in the pottery exhibition there were pots they could play with, colour palettes to explore, and tea parties to be created! Because it was half term The Studio was open - an extraordinary space packed full of art materials, toys and books with the freedom to artistically explore (including drawing on the walls!).... Karen G, TripAdvisor, October 2015

My 14 month old daughter and I visited York Art Gallery today and we had such a lovely time! We loved the interactive areas it was great that the ideas were simple and allowed children (and adults!) to use their imagination rather than just plonking electronic screens everywhere like in some 'interactive' museums and galleries. The staff were friendly and helpful and my little girl even gave out a few of her elusive smiles.The spaces were great for her to explore safely (she's just learning to walk) and it was so nice that she could use her independence to guide me to what she wanted to see and do. The layout helped to facilitate this.We only managed half the gallery but we will definitely be back as we loved it..... L. Yung, email, April 2016

It feels inclusive; that visitors are an integral part of the gallery ... That they want your visit a to be uplifting, inspiring, interesting, varied and enlightening but also relaxed and comfortable too..... Julie Kirk(blogger)Notes on Paper,March 2016


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