The 2020 awards are now open!
Key dates 2020:
12 February - entries open
19 March - Entries close
23 April - Finalists announced
13 May - Evening Awards Celebration, Waitangi (Copthorne Hotel)
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.
- 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 and Te Reo Māori, Visitor Experience, Public Programmes, Arts Access and Museum Retail).
- 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
Entry information including criteria, award categories and terms & conditions are below. Please use these as a reference, then submit your entry details and complete information 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
Download FAQs (pdf)
The Entry Process
1 What does an entry need to include?
Information such as who was involved, what the project entailed, where it was held and when, the budget, media and visitor interest. The judges want to know 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 for our exhibition/event/project?”.
Entry forms and information about the process above.
2 What supporting evidence should we submit?
You could include some or all of the following: plans, reports, photographs, graphic material, visitor book comments, blog posts, media hits. Remember that this material should be there to support and strengthen your entry. Don’t go overboard, and please keep material submitted within the limits and in the formats specified in the entry form.
3 How do we enter?
Follow the guidelines on the entry form, and prepare your entry as a single pdf file. Then submit your entry online here.
Note: There are separate entry forms for the Arts Access Aotearoa Museum Award and the MSAANZ Best New Product or Range.
Read the Ts and Cs here
4 How recent does the exhibition, programme or project need to be to qualify for this year’s awards?
Any exhibition, programme, project or product range completed within two years of the closing date can be entered, i.e. 1 April 2018 to 19 March 2020.
5 Can anyone enter or nominate someone for an award?
The Awards are open to individual and museum members of Museums Aotearoa. If you are not a member but would like to be involved, either go and talk to your local museum, or contact Museums Aotearoa.
6 The exhibition that we would like to enter crosses over between two categories. Which one should we enter?
If you are not sure which category to enter, please contact the Awards Convenor to discuss. If you run out of time, please signal this in your entry. The judges may elect to move your entry to a different category at their discretion.
7 Can we enter one exhibition in several categories?
You should not enter the same exhibition in more than one category unless you are entering quite different aspects. For example, you could enter an exhibition in Exhibition Excellence: Art and a series of community events associated with the exhibition in the Public Programmes category. If in doubt, please contact the Awards Convenor to discuss.
8 Is there a cost involved in entering?
The entry fee is between $50 and $200 depending on the size of your institution. See details on the entry form.
About the Awards
9 What is the Most Innovative Public Programme Award?
We welcome entries from all kinds of programmes which extend the museum or gallery's mission through public outreach and engagement. These could be education programmes, public events, conferences or technology projects.
10 What is the Most Innovative Education Programme Award?
This award was introduced in 2019 for outstanding programmes aimed at children, young people and their whanau and which encourage learning through their museums. The award focuses on the participation of early learning, school and youth groups in museum programmes and the engagement of young people and their families. Last year’s winner was Otago Museum for the ‘Kia Rapua Science Playground’.
11 What qualifies as a project for the Museum Project Excellence Award?
This category is intended for a range of institutional projects that are not exhibitions. This could include physical/building development, collection development, sustainable practice and research projects. Last year’s winner was Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira for its ‘Online Cenotaph/He Pou Aroha’ project.
12 What is the Arts Access Aotearoa Museum Award?
This category is intended to recognise museums that have made a particular commitment to building audiences by becoming more accessible to diverse communities. Museums Aotearoa is partnering with Arts Access Aotearoa for this award. Note: There is a separate entry form for this category.
13 What is the Best New Product or Range Award?
This award is a partnership between MA and the Museum Shops Association of Australia and New Zealand. The award will recognise innovative, sustainable, well-designed and successful museum and gallery retail products. The judges are looking for bespoke merchandise which is relevant to the institution or to a specific exhibition. Note: There is a separate entry form for this category.
14 What is the Mina McKenzie Award?
The Mina McKenzie Award is an individual achievement award, aimed at acknowledging mid-career museum professionals and volunteers who have made a significant contribution to their institution, community or the museums sector. Nominations for the Mina McKenzie Award can be made by any member of Museums Aotearoa. Nominees can be paid or unpaid staff or volunteers working in any aspect of the museum sector.
More information on the Mina McKenzie Award here
15 Do the awards include prize money?
Each finalist and winner will receive a framed certificate, a citation in the awards publication and opportunities for publicity. There are no monetary awards.
16 Will there be an Individual Award in 2020?
Museums Aotearoa has a range of options to recognise individual achievement and service. Please contact us if you would like to nominate someone.
17 Can I nominate a museum or person for the awards?
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.
The Judging Process
18 What are the judges looking for?
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.
19 Who are the judges?
In 2020 there will be several panels of 3-5 specialist judges, and an overview panel. The panels will have expertise in each of the categories, and will be represented on the overview panel. The judges will be announced in March.
20 What does the overview panel do?
Once the judging panels have reached their decisions, the overview panel will review the category panel decisions, and may also adjudicate on any ambiguous categories or panel stalemates. The overview panel will also decide the Project category and may make additional awards or commendations.
21 Who judges the Arts Access Aotearoa Museum Award?
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 award, who nominate the judging panel for the category. It includes an Arts Access Aotearoa staff member, an access advocate and at least one other nominated person.
22 Who judges the MSAANZ Award for Best new Product or Range?
The Museum Shops Association of Australia and New Zealand is a professional organisation dedicated to cultural retail management in Australasia. MSAANZ will nominate the judging panel.
23 Who judges the Mina McKenzie Award?
The Mina McKenzie Award will be decided by a judging panel appointed by the Board of Museums Aotearoa with input from Mina McKenzie’s whānau. The 2020 recipient will be announced at the Awards ceremony. More information here.
24 How can you compare the work of museums with larger budgets to smaller museums with stretched resources?
The awards celebrate the unique and creative ways museums bring collections and stories to life – this does not always require big budgets. The criteria are always applied with the capacity of the organisation in mind.
25 Will awards be made in every category?
If judges are unable to identify a suitable entry in any particular category, no award will be given. The judges may choose to recognise other achievements, for example by commendation.
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