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Revealed: The best museum in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 15:42 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 31 October 2019

The winners of the 2019 Suffolk Museum Awards. Picture GARY PAGE

The winners of the 2019 Suffolk Museum Awards. Picture GARY PAGE

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They are packed with gems which tell the amazing story of Suffolk's rich history - but which is the county's top museum?

Dr Christopher Hilton, head of archive and library at The Red House, picking up Large Museum of the Year from Richard Smith. Picture GARY PAGEDr Christopher Hilton, head of archive and library at The Red House, picking up Large Museum of the Year from Richard Smith. Picture GARY PAGE

With so much fascinating history inside them, it may be difficult to pick from the likes of Lowestoft Maritime Museum, the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket and the Lettering Arts Trust in Snape.

But that was the tough task which faced the judges of the 2019 Suffolk Museum Awards, who chose Aldeburgh's Red House - the home of Suffolk-born classical composer Benjamin Britten - and Bawdsey Radar as the best large and small museums respectively.

Others to win included Ipswich Museum, which took home the Innovation Award for the way it helps even the most vulnerable to access its exhibits delving into the town's past, and Lowestoft Maritime Museum for increasing the number of young visitors by 65% - earning it the Family Friendly Award.

The Natural Science Volunteer Team at Ipswich Museum won Volunteers of the Year for their tireless effort and dedication to efficiently archive and catalogue part of the museum's collection.

Mary Wain, retired chairwoman of Bawdsey Radar Trust, collecting the Small Museum of the Year Award from host BBC Radio Suffolk's Georgy Jamieson. Picture GARY PAGEMary Wain, retired chairwoman of Bawdsey Radar Trust, collecting the Small Museum of the Year Award from host BBC Radio Suffolk's Georgy Jamieson. Picture GARY PAGE

Palace House's "comprehensive learning offer with hands-on workshops, self-led visits with trails for school groups" won the Newmarket site the Schools Session Award, while the Museum of East Anglian Life had already been confirmed as winner of the Object of the Year for its tin of chocolate worm cakes.

That category followed a public vote on the East Anglian Daily Times website.

Others to be highly commended at the awards ceremony at the University of Suffolk's Waterfront Building on Wednesday, October 30 were Felixstowe Museum, in the Small Museum of the Year category, and Elaine Nason from Laxfield Museum and Paul Durbidge from Lowestoft Museum - both in the Volunteer of the Year category.

Jayne Austin, Suffolk Museums development and partnership manager, said: "Wherever you go in Suffolk, you won't be far from a museum which preserves and promotes the county's rich and diverse heritage.

Andrew Papworth, head of news/town editor for the East Anglian Daily Times, presenting the Object of the Year Award to the Museum of East Anglian Life for a tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes. Picture GARY PAGEAndrew Papworth, head of news/town editor for the East Anglian Daily Times, presenting the Object of the Year Award to the Museum of East Anglian Life for a tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes. Picture GARY PAGE

"The high number of public nominations highlighted the quality and diversity of what museums in Suffolk have to offer. The judges had a very difficult job."

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The Red House

A representative of the Museum of East Anglian Life with their Object of the Year Award and tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes. Picture GARY PAGEA representative of the Museum of East Anglian Life with their Object of the Year Award and tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes. Picture GARY PAGE

The Red House in Aldeburgh is the home of Suffolk's classical composer Benjamin Britten, where he lived with he partner Peter Pears for nearly 20 years from 1957.

Organisers said they want to make people proud of the role he played in the county.

Dr Christopher Hilton, head of archive and library at The Red House, who collected the Large Museum of the Year Award on behalf of the organisation, said: "We are really honoured to be chosen as Large Museum of the Year from such a strong field.

"The Red House is the home of Benjamin Britten who was both a figure of global importance and a proud Suffolk boy.

Adrian Chalkey from The Natural Science Volunteer Team, Ipswich Museum, who won Volunteers of the Year Award, presented by Jamie Everitt, SHARE Museums East. Picture GARY PAGEAdrian Chalkey from The Natural Science Volunteer Team, Ipswich Museum, who won Volunteers of the Year Award, presented by Jamie Everitt, SHARE Museums East. Picture GARY PAGE

"The award is in a sense for Britten himself - an indication of what he means to the county."

Bawdsey Radar

The nature of Bawdsey Radar's secretive role during the Second World War and beyond means that even today, not everyone knows about the site's major international significance and the museum there.

In 2016/7, the transmitter block underwent a major restoration programme funded by Historic England and others to transform it from a derelict condition into a building which now has a sustainable future.

Mary Wain, the recently retired chairwoman of Bawdsey Radar Trust, who collected the Small Museum of the Year Award on behalf of Bawdsey Radar, said: "This is the best possible prize for the incredible amount of hard work that has been put in over the last 15 years by the team of volunteers."

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