NZ Museum Awards 2008-2019

2018 ServiceIQ New Zealand Museum Awards

20 May 2018

Congratulations to all the entrants in the 2018 awards - and especially to all our finalists and winners. We had a great celebration at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu today. For the full list of finalists, winners and citations, download the winners media release here.

For the finalists announcement (8 May) download the media release here.



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.


2018 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/Best New Range Award


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 panels have now been announced!

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

Enter online here

Entry information including criteria, award categories and terms & conditions are below. Please use these as a reference, then submit your entry as a single .pdf document using the online form.

If you cannot submit online, please contact us


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 2018 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 March 2018.

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 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 is the New Product/New Range Award about?
A: This award began in 2017 through a partnership between MA and the Museum Shops Association of Australia and New Zealand. We wanted to recognise some really relevant, innovative, sustainable and successful museum and gallery retail products.

Q: Will there be an Individual Award in 2018?
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 



ServiceIQ 2017 New Zealand Museum 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

ServiceIQ 2016 New Zealand Museum Awards

Congratulations to all Service IQ 2016 New Zealand Museum Awards winners - 18 May 2016

2016 winners were announced at a packed event on International Museum Day. At the culmination of MA16 Museums Australasia - the first joint conference of Museums Aotearoa and Museums Australia, the NZ and Australian museum awards winners were announced. We thank all the entrants, judges and especially congratulate the winners.

PDF icon Download 2016 ServiceIQ NZ Museum Award Winners release

Visit Museums Australia Awards MAGNA website

Visit Museums Australia Publication and Design MAPDA website.


ServiceIQ 2015 New Zealand Museum Awards

ServiceIQ 2015 Museum Awards Announced Biggest, brightest and best!

Air New Zealand 75 Years, WW1 projects by Toitū and Expressions, science explained at MOTAT, Mataura and Hawke's Bay social history – in a year full of commemorations and celebrations, an exciting range of exhibitions and projects have been acknowledged at the 8th annual New Zealand Museum Awards.

Click here for the winners media release and here for the finalists.

See event images on Facebook.


2014 New Zealand Museum Awards

Congratulations to all the 2014 winners and finalists, and a big thank you to everyone who put in examples of their hard work to compete for an award. This year we received a large number of entries, and the judging panel had a very difficult task reducing them to a manageable number of finalists.

 Download the winners media release

 Download the finalists media release (135KB)

We had a wonderful celebration at the Awards ceremony in Hawke’s Bay on Thursday 3 April. See more photos on Facebook here.

Special congratulations to Bronwyn Simes, winner of the 2014 Individual Achievement Award. As Bronwyn could not join the celebration in Napier, Canterbury Museum arranged a surprise for her the day before.  See a video of the presentation here.

NZMA 2014

This year there were six awards categories. New Awards for 2014 were the innovative use of Te Reo, and an Individual Achievement Award which was anonymously nominated.


2013 New Zealand Museum Awards

The New Zealand Museum Awards for 2013 were celebrated in Hamilton as part of Museums Aotearoa's MA13 conference, Leading Museums. The awards programme is grateful for sponsorship from National Services Te Paerangi, Philips Selecon, NZ Micrographic Services and Service IQ.


New Zealand Fashion Museum - for Exhibiton Excellence - Small Museum, Home Sewn
The Kauri Museum - for Innovation / Environment / Technology, Achieving CarboNZero Certification
Auckland War Memorial Museum - for Public Programmes, URBANLIFE
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum - for Significant Project, Redevelopment Project
Christchurch Art Gallery - for Exhibition Excellence - Art, Outer Spaces

Download the 2013 Museum Awards media release museum_awards_2013_winners

For the full list of finalists, see media release museum_awards_2013 finalists

See photos of the Awards night on our Facebook page.


2012 New Zealand Museum Awards

The New Zealand Museum Awards for 2012 were announced at a sold-out celebration dinner in Wellington on 19 April. Congratulations to all winners and finalists, and to all who entered. It is great to showcase of some of the fantastic achievements in our museums and galleries.


Auckland Art Gallery - for museum/gallery development
Christchurch Art Gallery - for art/design exhibition, De-Building (joint winner)
Dunedin Public Art Gallery - for Still Life: the Art of Anatomy (joint winner)
Waikato Museum - for social history exhibition, Red, Yellow and (All) Black
Canterbury Museum - for social history exhibition, Canterbury Quakes (highly commended)
Christchurch Art Gallery - for innovation/technology, MyGallery online
Waikato Museum - for innovation/technology, temporary wall system (judges award for sustainability)

Download the 2012 Museum Awards media release.

For the full list of finalists, see media release here.

See photos of the Awards night on our Facebook page.


2011 New Zealand Museum Awards

The winners and finalists in the 2011 Museum Awards were presented at a celebratory dinner in Nelson on 14 April 2011. 

The 2011 awards had just two categories - individual and project. The project could be any museum or gallery project – whether an exhibition, education programme, series of public events or perhaps a research project.  Within the project category, the 2011 judges awarded winners in each of four areas.  Awards were presented for:

  • Project Achievement Award, Exhibition Excellence - Art
  • Project Achievement Award, Exhibition Excellence - Social History
  • Project Achievement Award, Exhibition Excellence - Small Museum
  • Project Achievement Award, Technology and Innovation  
  • Individual Achievement Award

Judges Priscilla Pitts, Heritage Destinations Manager, New Zealand Historic Places Trust and Greg McManus, Director of Rotorua Museum were joined by renowned architect Ian Athfield.  For photos of the 2011 New Zealand Museum Awards celebration, see our facebook page.

The NZ Museum Awards are proudly sponsored by Story Inc, with additional support from National Services Te Paerangi, Philips Selecon and NZ Micrographic Services.

2011 winners and finalists

Individual Achievement Award

David Wright, Navy Museum

Project Achievement Award

Technology and Innovation:
Whakamīharo Lindauer Online, Auckland Art Gallery

Exhibition Excellence - Art
Beloved, Dunedin Public Art Gallery

White Cloud Worlds, Dowse Art Museum
Back & Beyond & Here, Museums Wellington

Exhibition Excellence - Social History
Te Ahi Kā Roa, Te Ahi Ka Kātoro, Taranaki War 1860-2010: Our Legacy, Our Challenge, Puke Ariki

Port Nelson, Haven Ahoy!, Nelson Provincial Museum

Exhibition Excellence - Small Museum
Bohemians of the Brush: Pumpkin Cottage Impressionists, Expressions Arts & Entertainment Centre

Isel's 160th Year, Isel House
Ka Takata Whenua o Waihao, Waimate Museum
Credo and Quest, Whangarei Art Museum

We also congratualte the 2011 ATTTO Museum Workplace Training Ambassador Award winner, Eva Huismans, who is Volunteer and Training Coordinator at Canterbury Museum.

Photos of the 2011 Museum Awards are on our Facebook page.


New Zealand Museum Awards 2010

The New Zealand Museum Awards for 2010, proudly sponsored by Story Inc were presented at a celebration dinner in New Plymouth on 15 April 2010. The Awards celebrate individuals and organisations who achieve excellence in New Zealand museums and art galleries.

Click here to view the photos.

Individual Achievement Award Winner:
Thérèse Angelo

Innovation Achievement Award Winner:
Hawke's Bay Museum & Art Gallery
The Miniatures: An Adventure in the Bren Collection

Locales / Te Papa
Colossal squid interactives and website

Canterbury Museum
3D Digital Binocular Station

Selecon Award for Exhibition Excellence Winner:
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
Brought to Light


Museum of Wellington City and Sea
10 Years in Wonderland

The Air Force Museum of New Zealand
History Gallery Redevelopment Project; Horizon to Horizon

Click here for the 14 April 2010 media release. Click here for the awards citations.


Museums Aotearoa Awards 2009

The 2009 Awards were presented at a celebration dinner in Gisborne on 16 April, during the MA09 confernce hosted by Tairawhiti Museum. The selection panel commented on the high quality of entries in our second annual awards.

2009 MA Awards winners announced - 16 April 2009

Individual Achievement Award Winner - Warwick Smith, Forrester Gallery, Oamaru
Innovation Achievement Award Winner - Fred & Myrtle’s Paua Shell House, Canterbury Museum
Selecon Award for Exhibition Excellence Winner - Unpicking the Past, Nelson Provincial Museum

2009 MA Awards finalists announced - 14 April 2009

Innovation Achievement Award Finalists

  • Waipu Museum for the Waipu Museum Redevelopment
  • TheNewDowse for Common Ground

Selecon Award for Exhibition Excellence Finalists

  • TheNewDowse for Enchanted Forest
  • Waikato Museum for Waiclay
  • Christchurch Art Gallery for White on White

Museums Aotearoa Awards 2008

The inaugural Museums Aotearoa Awards were presented on 10 April 2008.

Individual Achievement Award Winner - Jim Geddes, Head of Arts and Heritage at Gore District Council
Innovation Achievement Award Winner- Jointly awarded to Christchurch Art Gallery and Pearson & Associates Architects of Auckland
Exhibition / Visitor Achievement Award Winner - Whanganui Regional Museum

2008 Finalists announced - 4 April 2008
2008 Winners announced - 10 April 2008

Further Enquiries:

tel: (04) 499 1313