First Place for Pandemic Pivot Award

July 2nd 2021

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North is delighted to have won the Pandemic Pivot Award in the Museums + Heritage 2021 Awards!

The awards, which this year recognise outstanding achievements by organisations during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, were announced in an online ceremony last night (Thursday, 1st July).

Beamish received the Pandemic Pivot Award (more than 20 paid FTE employees) after being shortlisted alongside other top attractions such as Imperial War Museum London, Museum of London, The National Trust for Scotland, Lichfield Cathedral and Sarehole Mill, which is part of Birmingham Museums.

Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish’s Chief Executive, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won the Pandemic Pivot Award at the Museums + Heritage Awards, this is such an honour and is testament to our brilliant staff, volunteers and supporters.

“Beamish is a charity that relies on visitors for almost all of our income, so having to close for extended periods during the pandemic has had a severe impact. During the last year there have been some wonderful and creative approaches across the sector to enable people to still engage with culture and heritage.

“At Beamish we had to act quickly and creatively to successfully pivot our offer, developing innovative ways for people to continue to connect with and enjoy the museum, and continue their support.

“We are delighted to have been recognised in this way and want to say a huge well done to everyone who was shortlisted for an award.”

From Beamish bakery deliveries and launching our online shop to Beamish from Home activities and live learning sessions, we created new and innovative ways to interpret our North East history and engage with communities and visitors.

Beamish developed creative approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable people to connect with and enjoy the museum.

Winners were selected across 17 categories, with many of those shortlisted receiving glowing acclaim by the judges during the livestreamed event, which was hosted by journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed.

Speaking before announcing Beamish the winners of the Pandemic Pivot Award, Ahmed said: “The judges say they were impressed by the multifaceted, confident approach of this organisation from the very start, it was the definition of quick thinking and bold pivoting and the warmth of the activity shone through.”

Central to the 2021 edition of the event was marking the achievements of organisations and individuals who have evidenced remarkable levels of ambition and resilience throughout the pandemic.

Anna Preedy, Director of the Museums + Heritage Awards, said: “It is truly inspiring to see how our winners have been at the very heart of their communities, playing a vital role in helping to ensure people stay connected and supported during the most challenging of times.

“I have been awestruck by the sector’s collective energy to not only ride out the storm but to seize opportunities, to transform and to challenge. I am delighted that these Awards shine a spotlight on the crucial role museums and heritage visitor attractions play in helping society to reshape and recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

In a first for the awards, two categories – COVID Supplier of the Year and COVID Special Recognition Award – were decided by a public vote. Specialist heritage consultancy Tricolor Associates scooped the supplier prize, while Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) Director Bernard Donoghue won the Special Recognition award.

Other categories included Shop of the Year, Sustainable Project of the Year, The Pandemic Pivot Award (fewer than 20 paid FTE employees), Partnership of the Year, Learning Outreach Award and Community Impact Award.

The judging panel was chaired by Maggie Appleton MBE, Chief Executive of the RAF Museum. She said: “We have experienced some very tough times… but we have also seen extraordinary generosity, creativity, resilience and risk-taking.

“These awards celebrate those fabulous traits of our sector, and of the remarkable people that make it one which is such a joy to be part of.”

Appleton was joined on this year’s judging panel by Diane Lees, Director General of Imperial War Museums; Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of the SS Great Britain Trust; Sam Mullins, Director of London Transport Museum; Caro Howell, Director of the Foundling Museum; Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland; and Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA.

The Pandemic Pivot Award is another great success for Beamish after our very own Simon Woolley, Head of Learning, was recently awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Cultural Enterprises Awards 2021. Simon worked tirelessly during the pandemic and delivered remote learning activities to over 8,500 people in the UK and beyond.

Museums + Heritage deliver events and online content for the museum and heritage sector. Their portfolio includes the Museums + Heritage Show – the sector’s largest annual trade exhibition which brings together museum, gallery, cultural and heritage visitor attraction operators and suppliers; The Museums + Heritage Awards – the sector’s benchmark of excellence. The awards celebrate the exceptional work that goes into creating world-class museums and heritage visitor attractions, find out more about this year’s awards at; Museums + Heritage Advisor – online, independent news, insight, updates and expert opinion for the sector