National Trust wins prestigious Museums + Heritage Special Recognition Award at the ‘Oscars of the museums world’

Press release
National Trust Director-General Hilary McGrady at Sutton House, Hackney, London
Published : 11 May 2022

The National Trust has won a prestigious Special Recognition Award at the 20th Museums + Heritage  Awards, which celebrate the best achievements in museums, galleries, cultural and heritage visitor attractions.

Director General Hilary McGrady accepted the award at a ceremony in London’s west end last night.

Known as the ‘Oscars of the museums world’, the awards attract hundreds of international entrants across 19 categories including International Exhibition of the Year, Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year and Visitor Welcome Award. 

The Special Recognition Award is the sole judges’ special tribute award, made to an individual or organisation which the judges feel has done extraordinary work or made a significant positive impact on the sector.  Previous winners include Sir David Attenborough and The Wolfson Foundation.   

Bernard Donoghue, Director of the UK’s Association for Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), nominated the Trust for the award, with a unanimous vote from the judging panel.  

Bernard said: “This special award is being given to the Trust to recognise that in the turbulence and challenge of the last two years of COVID disruption, the Trust also faced additional challenges. It became a lightning conductor for criticism about how our sector tells authentic stories and challenges accepted truths.  

“The Trust shows its principles and values through its behaviour, demonstrating that diversity and inclusivity aren't things that you programme or occasionally feature, but should be the foundations for any organisation in our sector.” 

Recent years have posed unprecedented challenges for the independent conservation charity. The first Covid lockdown forced all National Trust properties to close for the first time in the organisation’s then 125-year history, affecting almost every aspect of its work and income. In September 2020, the Trust’s report into its historic links with colonialism and slavery was met with fierce criticism from some campaigners and commentators. The Charity Commission found that the Trust had acted in line with its charitable purposes. 

More recently, the National Trust has announced that it saw a 383% rise in online donations during the pandemic, and that its membership has now returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth. 

Hilary McGrady said: “These have undoubtedly been demanding and difficult years. But at the same time we've seen a huge response to the Trust's work, from public donations to growing interest in our research.  

“All of it shows just how much nature, beauty and history matter to the nation. The Trust was founded so that everyone could enjoy these benefits, and with the passion of our staff, volunteers and supporters that's the mission we work towards every day.”