Animal magic as museum’s eco exhibition scoops top award: 20180705-102801.jpg

04 Oct 2019

Animal magic as museum’s eco exhibition scoops top award

Museums and galleries

An environmentally-friendly exhibition which used sustainable materials to explore the wonders of the natural world has scooped a prestigious national award.

Beavers to Weavers: The Wonderful World of Animal Makers won the Museums Change Lives (MCL) awards in the category of environmental sustainability at a ceremony held in Brighton yesterday.

More than 48,000 people visited the exhibition at Leeds City Museum last year, taking in a captivating collection of creations crafted by different species from all across the world.

Curators used hand-made paper, reused materials and recycled paint, to put the exhibition together and as series of workshops and events encouraged visitors to think about how we can each reduce the impact we have on the planet.

Organised by the Museums Association, the MCL Awards aim to champion the work of individuals and institutions around the UK working with and for their communities.

Rebecca Machin, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of natural sciences, said: “We could not be more thrilled and honoured to receive this award and we’re incredibly grateful to all our visitors and everyone who worked so hard to help make the exhibition a success.

“Raising awareness of the unprecedented challenges facing the natural world has never been more important than it is today and museums have a huge role to play in educating and informing our visitors about how we need to work together to ensure a sustainable future for the planet’s vulnerable species.

“We’re immensely proud that Beavers to Weavers has made a difference and encouraged people to think about the wonder and fragility of the animal kingdom.”

Among the objects which displayed during the exhibition were tiny, exquisite pearl Buddha figures made inside mussel shells a gigantic wasps’ nest, on loan from Manchester Museum, and the delicate egg sacs of spiders, mantises and octopus.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is an incredibly proud day for our museums and galleries and the team at Leeds City Museum.

“Not only have they given tens of thousands of people the opportunity to appreciate some incredible sights and experiences from across the natural world, they have led the way in sustainability and environmental awareness and set a benchmark for other cultural venues and organisations.

“This award is a fitting tribute to their boldness and creativity and I would like to congratulate them on receiving such prestigious and thoroughly deserved recognition.”

The award marks the second time in less than a fortnight that Leeds Museums and Galleries have taken home a national award.

Volunteers at Temple Newsam House recently won the sought-after Volunteers in Museum Learning award for Blot on the Landscape, an exhibition exploring the fascinating history of deep shaft, drift and open cast mining on the estate.

Their creative efforts were recognised at the Marsh Awards held at London’s British Museum.


Leeds City Museum was established in 1819 and reopened on 13 September 2008, having moved to the former Mechanics’ Institute located on Millennium Square in the centre of Leeds. With four floors and six galleries to visit, the museum offers an exciting, fun and interactive day out for all the family. The museum collection spans ancient and contemporary history, the local area and the wider world. The museum’s temporary exhibition space hosts a changing programme of exhibitions, currently A City and its Welcome, open until 31 December 2019.

The museum was named winner of the Kids in Museums ‘Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2018’. Family activities and school holiday events take place throughout the year including craft sessions at Rory’s Saturday Club, Tiny Tigers for under 5s and Museum Minis. The museum has dedicated conference and events spaces, with in-house catering provided by Leeds City Museum Café. The museum welcomed 283,138 visitors in 2018.

Leeds Museums and Galleries is a family of museums, heritage sites, country house estates and one flagship art gallery. Established in 1821, Leeds Museums and Galleries is the largest local authority-run museum service in England and have one of the most significant multidisciplinary collections in the UK. They exist to collect, preserve and interpret historic, cultural and scientific collections and places and use them as inspiration for educating, entertaining and inspiring the people of Leeds and beyond. They provide unique learning environments through the maintenance of these sites, their collections and through the operation of high quality, welcoming visitor attractions with associated commercial activity.

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Leeds City Council Communications team