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13 June 2018

The 2018 Museums & Galleries National (MAGNA) Awards were announced at a ceremony in Melbourne last week, with Victorian museums and galleries including Heide Museum of Modern Art and Museums Victoria’s Scienceworks and Immigration Museum among the winners.

A photo of Scienceworks' Ground Up exhibition space

Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together is the permanent exhibition space at Scienceworks for babies to five-year-olds.

Held annually, the MAGNA Awards are open to all non-commercial museums, galleries, zoos, botanical gardens, historical societies, libraries, keeping places, science centres and other cultural and collecting institutions who are members of Museums Galleries Australia.

The MAGNA Awards are presented across different entry levels depending on the project budget:

  • Level 1: Project budget less than $20,000
  • Level 2: Project budget $20,000 - $150,000
  • Level 3: Project budget $150,000 - $500,000
  • Level 4: Project budget more than $500,000

Victorian museums and galleries were awarded and highly commended across the following categories:

INTERPRETATION, LEARNING & AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

LEVEL 1

Highly Commended
National Wool Museum + Barking Spider Visual Theatre
In the Shadows of Giants

Winner
Heide Museum of Modern Art
Sidney Nolan Unmasked

Judges' comments: This is an innovative project that provides new ways of looking at iconic works. It also demonstrates power of partnerships within and outside of the sector. An extremely exciting and attractive project that tugs at the Australian heartstrings! The marrying of technologies and art is cutting edge. The use of VR to see beneath the surface and hypothesise on the artist's intentions is a simple yet powerful tool for art appreciation.

PERMANENT EXHIBITION OR GALLERY FITOUT

LEVEL 4

Highly Commended
Arts Centre Melbourne
Australian Music Vault

Winner
Museums Victoria – Scienceworks
Ground Up: Building Big Ideas,Together

Judges' comments: Ground Up is an innovative interactive space for very young children that integrates learning in a playful, fun experience. The extensive research and industry partnerships and accessibility consultations are impressive. The result is a creative and new kind of experience that is intuitive for young children and seems from the submission to have already been highly successful. The aesthetic, materials, lighting and colour choices are of exceptional quality. Consultation with academics and teachers has been used in design of activities ensuring that they are underpinned by sound theory relating to child development and educational psychology. Innovative re-purposing of materials and equipment.

SUSTAINABILITY

LEVEL 2

Highly Commended
Museums Victoria
Collection Risk Assessment and Management (CRAM) Initiative

LEVEL 4

Winner
The Sovereign Hill Museums Association
Sustainability Initiatives Program

Judges' comments: A strong environmentally sustainable museum model. A well-integrated, organisation-wide project engaging staff, visitors and major client groups. Sustainability of the project appears strong due to embedding principles in planning, management, operation, behavioural change, visitor and community engagement with ongoing assessment. A good example for the museum sector to consider in their own modeling of environmental sustainability practices.

TEMPORARY OR TRAVELLING EXHIBITION

LEVEL 1

Winner
Islamic Museum of Australia
Between Inscription & Gesture

Judges' comments: Great concept making connections between very different art forms which, when viewed together in this way, seem to be very closely linked. The exhibition was provocative within the community but became a catalyst for conversations. It negotiated potentially difficult spaces: the traditional and spiritual practice of Islamic calligraphy alongside contemporary, (and sometimes rebellious) graffiti and also generated discussion about the role of the museum within its community. Mural project involved community members in a meaningful way. Involvement of academic to write wall text brought depth. Successful incorporation of social engagement and networking/sharing opportunities with various communities, the content and the way audience was addressed.

LEVEL 2

Winner
Immigration Museum (Museums Victoria)
They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories From Detention

Judges' comments: The strong community engagement has led to ongoing relationships and connections between groups. Self-representation and authentic encounters, new networks forged through the public programs. Great to see this important topic tackled by a museum, to work with relevant people in order to recount personal narratives so as to bring this experience to the broader community. This is a complex contemporary issue but also one that has been part of Australia's history for a while now.

View the full list of MAGNA Award winners