Milestones Museum in Basingstoke scooped a national award last week at The Greats Gift Retailer Awards, organised by Progressive Gifts & Home, the UK’s market-leading gift sector magazine. The Hampshire living history museum, which is operated by charity Hampshire Cultural Trust, was the winner in the Best Museum or Visitor Attraction Shop category at the 2021 award ceremony, which was held at London’s Honourable Artillery Company on Thursday 23 September.
Now in their 16th year, The Greats Awards is a year-round benchmark of excellence, recognising and rewarding achievement across the gift retail sector nationwide. Milestones Museum fought off tough competition to win the Best Museum or Visitor Shop award, up against national finalists including The British Museum, the Royal Museums Greenwich, and Longleat Safari Park.
Milestones Museum Retail Manager, Lorna Standing, commented: ‘We are over the moon to have won the Best Museum or Visitor Attraction Shop award in this year’s Greats Awards. We are extremely proud of our retail offering and strive to create an original and unique shopping experience for our visitors, offering products that cannot be readily bought on the high street. All the hours of hard work the team has put into curating our product range have really paid off – we couldn’t be more thrilled.’
The main gift shop at Milestones underwent a full re-design in 2020, opening just before the pandemic struck, and taking inspiration from the museum and its collections. This included moving an original 1926 Gales Ales delivery truck to take pride of place at the entrance to the gift shop. During successive lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, the team at Hampshire Cultural Trust also worked on two new, unique retail offerings in the museum’s maze of cobbled streets – the vintage style Beale’s Toy Shop and the refurbishment of its penny arcade, which has been transformed into the Milestones Pier where visitors can enjoy playing on authentic, classic arcade games and taking in the seaside atmosphere.
It was not only the retail offer that received a transformation at Milestones this year. A new attraction in the museum was completed in 2021, with Mr Simpson’s Teddy Bear Museum opening its doors. The museum features over 260 bears and visitors can learn about the history of teddy bears and how this special collection came to be at Milestones Museum. Milestones Museum is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, an independent charity established in 2014 to promote Hampshire as a county that offers outstanding cultural experiences to both its residents and visitors.