Awards celebrate Australia’s museums and art galleries
Local councils across Australia have been recognized at this year’s annual awards celebrating the country’s museums and art galleries.
The Museums and Galleries National Awards, organized by the leading Australian Museums and Galleries Association, recognize work in the categories of exhibition, public programs and sustainability projects.
The City of Newcastle won three awards for its exhibition ‘WARWAR: The Art of the Torres Strait’, winning all three categories selected: learning or interpretive initiative, Aboriginal project and temporary or traveling exhibition.
The exhibit featured more than 130 works of art, including pieces never before seen outside the Torres Strait.
Showcasing Indigenous Art
The judges said in their comments that it was a “historic exhibit”, proving a “rare opportunity to learn more about the Torres Strait in southeastern Australia”.
“Being led by specialist curators and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisors has presented an excellent curatorial model that other cultural institutions across the regions can learn from.
“The inclusion and focus on the local community, born in Newcastle and residing in the Torres Strait, was a great decision; providing an important contextual link between the location of the gallery itself and the subject matter (which is a considerable geographical distance from Newcastle).
“The inclusion of local Awabakal traditional owners in exhibition events demonstrates respect for cultural protocol.”
Newcastle Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the award recognizes the importance of connecting with local communities through art and cultural awareness.
“As the most significant First Nations exhibition project in the Newcastle Art Gallery’s 65 year history, WARWAR has provided an important opportunity for the City of Newcastle to engage with our large community of Islanders in the Torres Strait and celebrate their culture in a meaningful way,” she said in a statement.
“By hoisting the Torres Strait Island flag over City Hall for the first time to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, and leaving it permanently in place to fly alongside the Aboriginal flag, we continue to demonstrate our commitment and support to our First Nations communities. .”
The City of Melville won the Temporary or Traveling Exhibition Award for its Number Please! exhibition, which celebrates 140 years of telephony in Western Australia.
The judges said in their comments that the exhibit “demonstrates a lot of creativity and ingenuity for such a modest budget.”
“Great attention has been paid to aesthetics and to ensuring that the exhibition can evoke nostalgia in its visitors.”
Mayor George Gear said the exhibit is a “fascinating look into the history of telephones in WA”.
“Dating back to the earliest candlestick telephones and featuring bakelite rotary dial telephones, a replica of a bureau de change’s timing switch door, Telecom memorabilia and even 1980s novelty telephones”, he said in a statement.
“Visitors can see old telephones, cell phones, a concise history of telephony in WA dating back to the late 19th century, and fascinating stories from people of historical notoriety.
“Less than 100 years ago, the home phone did not exist, but now 90% of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone and they are now an integral part of our society.
The Town of Greater Bendigo and Maitland Town Council also won awards in the Temporary or Traveling Exhibition category, under the Tier 2 division.
Maitland City Council was awarded for its Shadow Boxer exhibition at the Maitland Regional Art Gallery, which the judges hailed as a “fantastic delivery of a surprising encounter between art and sport”.
Bendigo Art Gallery won the award for its exhibition SOUL fury, “an important exhibition emerging from the gallery’s social responsibility” which showcased a “genuine diversity of Muslim women’s experiences”, according to the judges.
Other winners included the Australian Museum, which was the overall national winner, for its exhibition Unsettled, an Indigenous-led exhibition about Captain James Cook.
“Understanding our past is the key to creating a better present and a better future. This is one of the most important responsibilities of cultural institutions today: to encourage audiences to think critically about history and how it influences us today,” said Kim McKay, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, in a statement.
The plant won the research prize for its exhibition The Invisible Revealed, which showcases collaborative investigations initiated through a research partnership between the plant and the Australian Organization for Nuclear Science and Technology (ANSTO).
Main picture: City of Melville Assistant Curator of Museums and Local History Emma Mroz, John Paskulich, Secretary of the WA Historic Telecommunication Society, and Gina Capes, Head of Creation of City Museums and Local History and curator of museums, during the award ceremony.
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