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Newcastle Museum secures major national award

Newcastle Museum secures major national award
July 6, 2021

Newcastle Museum has become the first local government-run museum to be named the overall winner at the national museums and galleries awards.

In a huge coup for the regional museum, Newcastle Museum was named the most impressive entry from 42 finalists across 16 categories for its 1X4 social history exhibition at the Australian Museums and Galleries Association’s MAGNA Awards (Museums and Galleries National Awards).

In winning the top award, the Newcastle City Council attractions beat out giants like the National Museum of Australia and the National Maritime Museum

It also won the Temporary or Travelling Exhibition Award in its budget category.

The 1X4 exhibition features 23 items from Newcastle Museum’s own collection including a brass model locomotive, a pigeon trophy and a lace gown. Each item has four different stories attached to it, which can be explored via mobile phone or audio tour, as well as a choice of music.

The exhibition, put together by Curator David Hampton with a budget of less than $20,000, was conceived and created locally despite challenges presented by COVID-19.

Museum Director Julie Baird said the exhibition had attracted widespread interest, commenting “IX4 is an innovative, collection-rich, social history exhibition and website exploring the multiplicity of narratives each object can tell.”

City of Newcastle Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was one of the most significant cultural awards Newcastle had ever won and was testimony to Baird and City of Newcastle staff.

Mayor Nelmes advised “Newcastle Museum is on the cutting edge of contemporary museum practice, creating insightful and immersive ways to interpret and preserve our city’s fascinating history.”

Mayor Nelmes also applauded Baird’s recent selection as Vice President of the National Council for the Australian Museums and Galleries association, saying her appointment acknowledged the importance of local government-funded museums ion the cultural landscape.

The exhibition, which closed in Newcastle last month, will now go on tour with three museums adding it to their touring exhibition program.

Its next stop is Randwick City Council’s La Perouse Museum in September.

Local government-funded museums in Canada have also been in contact for advice about creating their own version of the concept.

Newcastle Museum also took out the Program Website Level A award in the Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Awards for excellence in publications and multimedia in the museums sector.

The awards were presented at the recent AMaGA national conference in Canberra.

Images: Entry to the Newcastle Museum (top) and Curator David Hampton, Director of City Wide Services Alissa Jones and Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird at the MAGNA awards (below).

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