NZ Museum Awards


23 May: A celebration of all the best museum mahi announced winners of the 2017 awards. 

Watch the Awards presentation video on Youtube

Download the WINNERS media release

Winners of the ServiceIQ Visitor Experience Award - Mokau Museum

Winners of the Taonga Maori category - Tairawhiti Museum

The judging panels have convened and finalists have been named - thank you to everyone who entered.

Download the finalists announcement

Finalists in the ServiceIQ 2017 New Zealand Museum Awards:
Exhibition Excellence – Art
The Dowse Art Museum : Legacy: The Art of Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu-Hetet
Te Tuhi : Share/Cheat/Unite
Exhibition Excellence – Science and Technology
Locales / Stardome Observatory: Stardome Exhibition
MOTAT : The Innovators
Puke Ariki : BUGS! Our Backyard Heroes
Exhibition Excellence – Social History
Air Force Museum of New Zealand : 80 Years in 80 Stories
Auckland War Memorial Museum : Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa
Nelson Provincial Museum : Murder at Maungatapu
Toitu : Slice of Life: The World Famous Dunedin Study
Exhibition Excellence – Taonga Māori 
Auckland War Memorial Museum : Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu
Nelson Provincial Museum : Mai | Hawaiiki Te Ahi Ka Roa
Tairāwhiti Museum : Ko Rongwhaakata
Waikato Museum : Te Whaanau Maarama: The Heavenly Bodies
Most Innovative use of Te Reo Māori 
Auckland War Memorial Museum : Mana Aotūroa
MOTAT : The Innovators
Nelson Provincial Museum : 鸡年吉祥 | Good Luck for this Rooster Year | Ngā mihi nui mō tēnei tau o te Tamaheihei
Waikato Museum : Te Whaanau Maarama: The Heavenly Bodies
ServiceIQ Museum Visitor Experience Award
Mokau Museum : "Save Mokau Museum"
Dunedin Public Art Gallery : Yayoi Kusama: The Obliteration Room – Open Fun Day: Spot Ya
MTG Hawkes Bay : Somebody's Darling: Stories from the Napier Cemetery 1855-1917
Most Innovative Public Programme
Christchurch Art gallery : Good Vibrations
City Gallery Wellington : Bullet Time Education Programme
Sarjeant Gallery : The Tote Bag Project
Otago Museum : Yoga with the Butterflies
Museum Project Excellence Award
Pearson & Associates : Kaikoura Museum
The Suter : The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū Redevelopment Project



Key dates 2017:

March - entries open
10 April - Entries close 
5 May - Finalists announced
23 May - Evening Awards Celebration, Palmerston North

Awards Background

From 2008 annual Museums Aotearoa Awards have been presented to celebrate individuals and organisations that achieve excellence in the museum and gallery sector in New Zealand.

The Awards are open to individual and museum members of Museums Aotearoa, and are intended to:

  • encourage continuous improvement and development of museums and galleries.
  • inspire and recognise best practice and innovation.
  • acknowledge the contribution made by individuals to their institutions and to the gallery and museum sector.
  • enhance the profile of galleries and museums in local and wider communities.
  • assist in our learning about the content and process of making successful exhibitions/events/projects with the inclusion of the Award Winners Workshop at the annual conference.
  • create interest in the sector by a greater sharing, and possible touring of exhibitions, through knowledge about current exhibitions.


2017 Categories

  • Exhibition Excellence - Art                             
  • Exhibition Excellence - Science and Technology     
  • Exhibition Excellence - Social History
  • Exhibition Excellence - Taonga Māori
  • Most Innovative use of Te Reo Māori           
  • ServiceIQ Museum Visitor Experience Award
  • Most Innovative Public Programme
  • Museum Project Excellence Award
  • Arts Access Museum Award
  • MSAANZ Best New Product and Best New Range Awards


Judging panels will be made up of professionals from across each discipline (Art, Science and Technology, Social History, Taonga Maori, Visitor Experience, Public Programmes, Arts Access and Museum Retail).     

Judging guidelines:

  • Entries will be assessed by a panel of judges with expertise in each field.
  • Judges will draw on their own knowledge of current museum practice in Aotearoa, and will be looking for excellence in conceptualisation and delivery in all entries.
  • Judges will assess entries to compete fairly, for example, an art exhibition from a regional/small organisation will be judged with others of a similar scale and budget.
  • Judges will also be looking for the following qualities in entries, as appropriate:

Vision: the project or programme demonstrates and advances the museum’s mission.

Engagement: the project or programme creates new knowledge, awareness, access, skills or connections for audiences / participants.

Resourcefulness: the project or programme takes the museum’s

resources (such as people, collections, skills, or community context) and makes the most of them.

Innovation: the project or programme demonstrates new thinking and approaches that others can learn from.

  • If judges are unable to identify a suitable achievement in any particular category, no award will be given.



Entering the New Zealand Museum Awards

Application forms, information and criteria for award categories.

See below for FAQs or look at Previous Awards


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do the judges need to know?
A: They need to know basic information such as who was involved, what the project entailed, where it was held and when. They also want to know what is special about your project - why you undertook the project in the way you did, what challenges you overcame, and why it is worthy of recognition.  Ask yourself, ‘what is the point of difference about your exhibition/event/project?  This will assist you in putting a good case forward.

Q: What supporting evidence should I submit?
A: More is not necessarily better, however to illustrate your project, you could include some or all of the following: plans, reports, photographs, graphic material, visitor book comments, blog posts, media hits. Please keep material submitted within the limits and in the formats specified in the application form.

Q: What are the judging criteria?
A: The judges will be looking for excellence, engagement, resourcefulness, innovation and vision. Some or all of these criteria will be applied as relevant to each Award category. For details see terms and conditions.

Q: Who are the judges? 
A: In 2017 there will be several panels of specialist judges and a coordinating panel.  The panels will have expertise in each of the categories, and will be represented on the coordinating panel.  The judges will be announced late in February 2016.

Q: What qualifies for the 'Most Innovative Public Programme' award?
A: This category is intended for gallery and museum projects that engage the public and are not exhibitions. These could be education programmes, public events, conferences or technology projects. We welcome entries from all kinds of projects that contribute to the museum and gallery sector, are innovative, and extend the museum or gallery's public outreach and engagement.

Q: What qualifies as a project for the 'Best Museum Project' award?
A: This category is intended for a range of gallery and museum projects that are not exhibitions. There are lots of exciting initiatives going on such as physical development, collection development, sustainable practice and research projects. We welcome entries from all kinds of projects that contribute to the museum and gallery sector.  Past winners have included the new Museum of Waitangi and the multi-faceted reinvention of Mataura Museum.

Q: What is the Arts Access Award about?
A: This category is intended to recognise galleries and museums that have made a particular commitment to building new audiences by becoming more accessible to disabled or Deaf people. Museums Aotearoa is partnering with Arts Access Aotearoa for this new award.

Q: What are the New Product and New Range Awards about?
A: These are new awards for MA in partnership with the Museum Shops Association of Australia and New Zealand. We want to recognise some really relevant, innovative, sustainable and successful museum and gallery retail products.

Q: Will there be an Individual Award in 2017?
A: MA has a range of options to recognise individual achievement and service. Please contact us if you would like to nominate someone.

Q: Will awards be made in every category?
A: The judges may decide not to make an award in some categories – and may choose to recognise other achievements as well.

Q: How can you compare the work of museums with larger budgets to smaller museums with stretched resources?
A: The awards celebrate the unique and creative ways museums bring collections and stories to life - this does not always require big budgets. As well as the separate exhibition categories, the judges have the option to specifically recognise smaller museums in other categories. 

Q: Can I nominate a museum or person for the awards? 
A: All nominations must come from Museums Aotearoa members. If you are not a member but would like to be involved, either go and talk to your local museum, or contact Museums Aotearoa.


If you have any questions about the awards that you think would be of interest and/or benefit to others, contact us and we may publish them here.