Proudly sponsored by ServiceIQ, New Zealand’s most outstanding exhibitions, programmes and museum projects were announced last week at a gala event at Christchurch Art Gallery.
The winners include a diverse range of museums and art galleries, all with an inspired approach to engaging communities in art, science, history and culture.
ServiceIQ CEO Dean Minchington says museums and galleries hold a crucial place in New Zealand’s cultural life, and the talented people behind-the-scenes – many who have advanced their skills on-job with ServiceIQ’s qualification programmes – deserve special recognition.
“We are extremely proud to support the highly talented and knowledgeable people who help to protect, promote and display our cultural heritage. Their vital work engages, educates and entertains, and brings New Zealand’s stories to life for an outstanding and memorable visitor experience that can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.”
The winners are:
The new individual achievement award commemorating museum legend Mina McKenzie went to Awhina Tamarapa, who has made a significant contribution to the embedding of Matauranga Māori in New Zealand museums, from governance through to operational levels.
The Museum Project Award went to the visionary Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, in Foxton. This project was developed through a ground-breaking three-way cultural partnership. The result is a feeling of real community ownership for the centre.
MOTAT’s ‘Changing Gear’, which tackled the topical issue of cycling, won the award for Exhibition Excellence – Social History, and demonstrated how a museum can operate as a platform to inform debate and shape attitudes.
In the Science and Technology category, Kaikoura Museum’s ‘New Normal – The Kaikoura Earthquake Exhibition’ was the unanimous winner. It connected closely with the local community and used a variety of ways to engage audiences in science, achieving a lot with limited resources.
Hastings City Art Gallery’s co-curated exhibition #keeponkimiora brought together artist Edith Amituanai and Kimi Ora Community School and was the winner of the Exhibition Excellence – Art category. The judges admired the collaborative ethos of the project that saw students involved in all aspects of the exhibition.
Otago Museum and MTG Hawke’s Bay were joint winners of the Exhibition Excellence – Taonga Māori category. Both demonstrated best practice in collaborative relationships between iwi and museums to exhibit taonga Māori collections. MTG’s ‘He Manu Tīoriori 100 Years of Ngāti Kahungunu Music’ was praised by judges for its success in reconnecting audiences with a musical tradition stretching back 100 years. Otago Museum’s Tūhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre impressed with its truly bicultural approach, enabling visitors to engage with both Te Ao Kai Tahu and Western science.
Two projects outside the box featured in the Most Innovative Public Programme Award. Taupō Museum’s fun and highly popular ‘Dog Show and Gallery for Dogs’ and Otago Museum’s ‘Extreme Science – Taking Science to the Chathams‘. The judging panel said: “These two programmes were at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of resources available to each institution to make the programmes occur, but we loved how both connected with communities in genuine, innovative and engaging ways. Both programmes are proactive and foster access, awareness and make real and tangible connections."
Awards host Christchurch Art Gallery was a finalist in the Exhibition Excellence – Taonga Maori Award with ‘He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land’ and won the Museum Shops Association of Australia and New Zealand Award for Best New Product or Range (over $1 million turnover), with their ‘Look Mum, No Hands’ range developed with artist Wayne Youle. The Dowse Art Museum’s collaborative ‘The Pattern Project’ was also a winner in this category for under $1 million turnover.
In 2017, a new Arts Access Aotearoa Museum Award was offered for the first time, aimed at increasing the sector’s focus on accessibility. The 2018 award was won by Canterbury Museum’s candid and moving exhibition, ‘The Bristlecone Project’. Judges Richard Benge, Executive Director, Arts Access Aotearoa and Award winning journalist and communicator, Robyn Hunt ONZM, Principal Consultant AccEase, commented: “The Bristlecone Project exhibition is a powerful example of how museums can include the voices, stories, experience and history of people who have previously experienced exclusion. It had a high standard of accessible features and demonstrated how to include impactful ‘unsafe’ stories in a ‘safe’ museum.”