Hannah McColgan, Retail Operations Manager blogs about the Museum of Liverpool’s very own toy story: "Last week the Museum of Liverpool was thrilled to be awarded a Toymark Award for Good Practice 2016 by consumer action group Let Toys Be Toys, in recognition of how all toys and books in our shops are offered to both boys and girls regardless of the item’s gender stereotype. Let Toys be Toys believe in challenging gender stereotyping in the toy and book industries and making items accessible for children across the board. Rather than having a blue “boys” section and a pink “girls” section, they believe all toys, books and gifts should be displayed together in a welcoming and inclusive way. We support this idea as we want to encourage children to follow their interests and learn about a range of different subjects at our venues. Parents have communicated their thoughts on the Let Toys be Toys website about gender stereotypes in the toy and publishing industries, with one stating ‘my 4 year old daughter is now starting to get self conscious walking into the ‘boys’ section to get her favourite things and it’s heart-breaking to watch’. We want to avoid this and make sure that our shops are inclusive, as well as educational. What is even more fantastic about this news is that we have been awarded this accolade following a nomination from a visit by a mystery shopper to both the Museum of Liverpool shop and our online store. This shopper then provided their feedback to Let Toys be Toys. Families enjoy their shopping experience at National Museums Liverpool Something we are particularly proud of is that the Museum of Liverpool Shop is the first ever winner in Liverpool. That’s the gauntlet – or glove puppet – thrown to other Liverpool retailers to step up and help to challenge gender stereotyping in the industry. The Retail Team are committed to making all of our shops a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone. From our Buying Team - who source all of our products on sale in the shops - to our staff who display (and play with) the gifts and toys once they arrive, we are working to make sure everyone – including parents - enjoys their visit. You can read more about how our Head of Retail aims to make our shopping spaces more child and family friendly. We want children to pick toys and books based on what they enjoy and find interesting. Personally, my favourite toy from when I was younger was a fully posable action figure of Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, complete with small plastic knives - you have to love the early nineties - who I regularly teamed up with a Little Red Riding Hood soft toy to go on adventures together! We all want to give a huge thanks to Let Toys be Toys, and indeed our mystery shopper, for the recognition of what we do in encouraging children to choose their toys based on what they like and not because of their gender. After all, a gift from one of our shops is the bit of the museum you take home with you! Whatever gift you pick from our shops, make sure it's something you love!