Heart of the Nation wins Museums + Heritage Awards Temporary or Touring Exhibition of the Year


The Migration Museum’s exhibition Heart of the Nation: Migration and the Making of the NHS has won Temporary or Touring Exhibition of the Year at the 2024 Museums + Heritage Awards.

Heart of the Nation is a national touring exhibition shining a light on the stories and experiences of people who have come to Britain to create, shape and sustain the NHS at all levels since its creation in 1948. 

It features dozens of personal stories contributed by NHS workers past and present, alongside photography, film, oral histories, keepsakes, newly commissioned artworks and a music and film installation co-created by artists Kaia Laurielle and Emmanuel Sugo and seven first- and second-generation migrant NHS workers.

The exhibition, which began as a digital exhibition during lockdown, launched in Leicester in June 2023 to coincide with the NHS’s 75th anniversary. The exhibition was open to the public at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery for four months, accompanied by a series of workshops and events ranging from talks to music and craft workshops to yoga sessions.

Heart of the Nation at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery (Photo: Everything’s Fine Photography)

It then moved to Leeds, where we staged the exhibition from our Migration Museum Leeds Pop-Up in Trinity Leeds shopping centre from November 2023 until February 2024.

We launched the final leg of the national tour at the Migration Museum in Lewisham, south London, where Heart of the Nation runs until 27 July 2024.

Heart of the Nation at the Migration Museum in Lewisham (Photo: Sopo Ramischwili)

Heart of the Nation was shortlisted in a prestigious field alongside Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum, Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance at the Fitzwilliam Museum; Irish in Britain’s Look Back to Look Forward: 50 Years of the Irish in Britain; and Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain at MK Gallery.

The award, decided by a panel of independent judges with extensive experience across the museums and heritage sector, was announced at a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane London, known as the ‘Oscars of the Museum World’, on Wednesday 15 May.

Artists Emmanuel Sugo and Kaia Laurielle with the Migration Museum’s Matthew Plowright and Harriet Costello at the Museums + Heritage Awards 2024

Aditi Anand, Artistic Director at the Migration Museum and lead curator of Heart of the Nation, said: “We’re beyond thrilled that Heart of the Nation has won Temporary or Touring Exhibition of the Year and to be recognised by our peers from across the museums and heritage sector – it’s a massive honour.” 

Heart of the Nation highlights the vital role that migrants have always played in the NHS and the extent to which, just like the NHS, migration is central to the very fabric of who we are in Britain – as individuals, as communities and as nations. Now more than ever, this is a story that needs to be told.”

“I’m so proud of what we created and grateful to all the creative, empathetic and generous people who contributed to making this exhibition so special. This project is dedicated to all the NHS workers from around the world who care for us – we are honoured to be able to share and preserve your stories for future generations.”

Bernard Donoghue OBE, one of the award judges and Director and CEO of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said: “All of my fellow award judges and I were hugely impressed with the Migration Museum’s Heart of the Nation exhibition. The exhibition couldn’t be more important, timely and brilliantly executed. 

“We were especially impressed, and moved, that the exhibition told the stories of individual people; their individuality, passions, sacrifices and contributions to the NHS, to society, and to the UK came through powerfully. We were delighted to award the Migration Museum this prestigious prize and urge everyone to see this wonderful exhibition.”

The Migration Museum would like to thank our funders who have made this exhibition possible: Arts Council England, Garfield Weston, People’s Postcode Trust, The Rumi Foundation, The Dorfman Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy. Thank you to Leicester Museums for being such amazing hosts – we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. And to Landsec for providing us with the venue for our pop up in Trinity Leeds – and our current home in Lewisham Shopping Centre.

And a massive thank you to all of the artists, collaborators, designers and current and former NHS workers who have contributed stories, photos, uniforms, party dresses, placards and so much more – this exhibition is for you.

You can visit our award-winning Heart of the Nation exhibition at the Migration Museum in Lewisham, south London, until 27 July – plan your visit here.

And watch this short film on the making of SPEAK, the music and film installation that forms the physical and emotional centre-piece of the exhibition to see all the love and dedication that went into it and get a glimpse of what Heart of the Nation is all about:

View press release
Top image: Hayley Bray

Migration Museum wins Best Shop and Rising Star awards at the Cultural Enterprises Awards 2024

The Migration Museum’s shop has won two more awards at this year’s Cultural Enterprises Awards.

Our Migrant Makers Market, which champions products made by migrant-led brands and creatives, was awarded Best Shop, while our Retail Manager Katy Clinch brought home the Rising Star award. Last year, our Migrant Makers Market won the People’s Choice award

Our Migrant Makers Market, designed by spatial designer Studio Lucy Sanderson, has recently reopened and features a wider range of products made by migrant-led makers and brands than ever before. It provides a much-needed platform for underrepresented makers, brands and businesses that otherwise aren’t available in high street spaces. Take a closer look and among the products you will discover the stories of the entrepreneurs behind them. 

Announcing the award for Best Shop, the judges said: “An innovative and inclusive space which looks amazing and works with the museum ethos – an exciting way to approach cultural retail.”

Awarding the Rising Star award to our Retail Manager, Katy Clinch, the judges said: “Katy is a team player and inclusive leader who champions professional and personal development and is an ambassador for retail across the sector.”

Our Migrant Makers Market was designed by spatial designer Studio Lucy Sanderson,  chosen to create the space following an open call to local artists and designers in 2022. 

“The Migrant Makers Market’s spatial design is influenced by the design language of UK high streets, markets, and shopping centres, as well as the borough of Lewisham’s blue and yellow brand identity honouring its home in the heart of Lewisham. The design pays homage to iconic brands, many of which were created by immigrants, while celebrating and providing a platform for future migrant-founded brands and businesses.” – Lucy Sanderson, founder of Studio Lucy Sanderson and designer of the Migrant Makers Market.

You can explore our award-winning Migrant Makers Market by visiting us in-store or online

Congratulations to everyone who was shortlisted for these awards and to all of the other winners – it was inspiring to see so many incredible ranges and so much creativity on display. 

Top image: Katy Clinch, Retail Manager at the Migration Museum, with the two awards at the Cultural Enterprises Awards 2023
Migrant Makers Market images: photos by Sopo Ramischwili

Daily Mirror – Real Britain (15/03/24)

“Inside a shopping centre, a packed exhibition is celebrating the contribution of thousands of immigrants to building the National Health Service. To mark the NHS’s 75th birthday, the Migration Museum in South East London has gathered documents, photographs, memories, and objects from midwifery badges to nurses’ uniforms, to write migrant health-workers back into our national history.”