Winners 2015



Port Macquarie Museum – Waterways – Our Rivers Our History

A collaborative project involving vounteer-run museums on the lower Mid North Coast, Waterways demonstrated sustainable collection-management practices to showcase significant objects and their stories in a web exhibition aimed at attracting new audiences.

The resulting Our Rivers Our History website tells the stories of the Manning, Camden Haven, Hastings and Macleay Rivers through objects in local museums relating to local rivers and coastal waters. The website provides trails, an online collection and related tourist information to illustrate how the region’s rivers have contributed to and defined coastal settlement and development.

The project, funded through a M&G NSW Regional Networking Grant—a devolved funding program supported by Arts NSW—focused on building volunteer skills in collection research, documentation and significance assessment for regional story-telling.




Hawkesbury Regional Museum – Flood!

In February 2012, a Hawkesbury resident was reported as saying that he was unaware his home was at risk of flood. And he was not alone: a 2001 survey revealed that one in five residents did not know that they were living on a flood plain.

Flood! set out to raise awareness about what it means to live on a flood plain and how flooding has shaped the local community.

Engaging audiences through dramatic story-telling and effective visual displays, the exhibition featured an innovative software program, Water Ride, which allowed people to enter their street address to see how past and projected floods would affect their home. Creative visual displays effectively illustrated what has happened to people in the Hawkesbury in the past, and what could, and probably will, happen in the future.


Highly Commended

Museum of the Riverina – Writtenworlds: handwritten local histories

Hand-written words form tiny yet meaningful moments of history. Displaying letters and diaries as historical record, Writtenworlds presented stories from ordinary lives to reflect the world in close-up detail.

Using the themes of war, peace, love, loss, business, politics, hope, and humour, the exhibition featured handwritten paper collections from five Riverina museums, nationally significant objects on loan from the State Library of NSW and paper sculptures by local artists. Spokenworlds, created by local filmmaker John Riddell and commissioned by the Museum, highlighted passages from letters, read aloud by descendants of the men and women who wrote them.

Regional Arts Funding enabled the purchase of tablet computers for each participating museum to display Spokenworlds providing new digital content for participating volunteer-run museums.




Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences – A Fine Possession: Jewellery & Identity

Revealing the richness of Australian jewellery heritage, this exhibition comprises jewellery made, worn and collected in Australia. Through the presentation of historical and contemporary jewellery side-by-side, the exhibition aimed to inspire innovation and creativity in contemporary jewellery practice.

The exhibition uses unconventional perspectives and cross-cultural object groupings to challenge preconceptions, enable new ways of seeing and to enhance visitor engagement.

Collaboration with 80 institutional state, regional and private lenders from across Australia revealed the richness of Australian collections, and included partnerships with private and community-based collectors of Pacific, Asian, Indigenous and contemporary jewellery. The extent of collaboration with lenders fostered new relationships with museums, galleries, collectors, historians, students and makers.


Highly Commended

State Library of NSW – Pulp Confidential – Quick and dirty publishing from the 40s & 50s

Drawn from the archive of Frank Johnson Publications, a Sydney publishing house, this exhibition presented a rich and lurid collection of 1940s and 50s vintage Australian pulp cover art, crime-story illustrations, gags and original comic book panels. A desire to showcase the previously unseen and unresearched archive, which contains the only pulp collection in Australia with original artwork, was a primary motivation in developing the exhibition.

Supported by the Library’s social media channels the hashtag #PulpConfidential was used to generate active online engagement. The Curio mobile app provided curator interviews and additional content, while the exhibition website provided behind-the-scenes footage, an exhibition film and links to the catalogue records for the archive.





Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery – (in)visible: the First Peoples and War

Since colonisation, Aboriginal people have lived with conflict as a feature of daily life. They have fought alongside others in various global conflicts, enduring inequality, injustice and neglect, particularly when rewards were distributed to returned servicemen.

Curated by Meryl Ryan, Yhonnie Scarce, and the Gallery’s Aboriginal Reference Group, (in)visible prioritised the perspectives of Aboriginal men and women. Displayed as part of the Anzac Centenary the program included an interactive Poppy Wall where participants could design, draw and print multiple yellow poppies under guidance from the Aboriginal community and a textile designer.

To maximise the visitor experience, extended exhibition panels, a family activity sheet, and tours were provided. School resources included a Teachers’ Day, and staff were trained to sensitively and successfully deal with any racist comments from visitors. The project structure allowed for open conversations and resulted in emotional and honest responses from artists and visitors.


Highly Commended

Bathurst Regional Art Gallery – Stars + Stripes: American Art of the 21st Century from the Goldberg Collection

This exhibition marks the first time since 1967 that contemporary American art has been seen in Australia, introducing Australian audiences to a new generation of American artists. The strategic partnership between a regional gallery, private collectors Lisa and Danny Goldberg, and M&G NSW was aimed at developing a regional touring show featuring primarily new work.

Curated by Richard Perram OAM, the exhibition will tour eight venues over two years.

Stars + Stripes capitalised on visitation to the popular ArtExpress exhibition, with resultant visitation of over 3,000, plus 406 students from 15 schools. An extensive catalogue and an interactive education kit were produced; resources which will strengthen understandings and extend audience engagement throughout the tour.


Highly Commended

Lismore Regional Gallery – Protest Songs: Artful Actions 

The Northern Rivers is home to a vocal and vibrant activist culture: Australia’s first major forest blockade occurred at nearby Terania Creek in 1979, and more recently thousands of locals blockaded a proposed coal seam gas mining site at Bentley, outside Lismore. Curated by Kezia Geddes, the exhibition articulated how creativity has been used to highlight political, social and environmental issues.

The exhibition drew on documentary footage detailing the story of the Yirrkala Bark Petitions from 1963, the Terania Creek protests films, posters, visual art, performance documentation, political cartoons, community installations and collections of YouTube clips of protest songs and creative actions.

Recent work by contemporary artists and political cartoonists was displayed alongside international activists such as Art Workers Coalition, John Lennon/Yoko Ono and Guerrilla Girls to address a range of current issues. Local activists Benny Zable and the Knitting Nanas Against Greed and Gas created new actions specifically for the exhibition.




Museum of Contemporary Art – Energies: Haines & Hinterding

Captivated by the unseen energies that surround us, artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding seek to reveal these energies to audiences through work that draws upon science, the occult and philosophy. Curated by Anna Davis, Energies was the first survey of Haines’ and Hinterding’s work and included collaborative projects, solo works, and a new commission.

The interactive exhibition featured multi-sensory artworks, a massive virtual-environment computer game explored using gesture, a virtual-reality experience and a soft-listening zone where audiences could hear the sound of the energy artworks. The audience was invited to listen to very-low-frequency radio waves picked up by large-scale graphite antennas stencilled onto the exterior of the building.

The Museum collaborated with UNSW’s National Institute for Experimental Arts to convene a major international conference to coincide with the exhibition examining the dynamic relationship between art and energy.





Berrima District Museum – New museum gallery extension 

The vision behind the new extension was twofold: to design, build and fit-out a multi-purpose gallery to meet environmental standards of national and international museum practice; and to provide the Museum with a temporary exhibition space.

The facility is the first exhibition space in the Southern Highlands capable of accommodating touring exhibitions from state, national and international cultural institutions.

A community fundraising program generated $35,000 from 35 donors. The new space allows the Museum to open an additional 156 days per year by hosting exhibitions on a commercial basis, earning revenue and attracting new audiences.



Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery – Lighting Upgrade

The installation of this sustainable gallery lighting system was a response to the restriction on the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs used in specialist gallery light fittings.

The project was carefully researched and planned over two years. The state-of-the-art lighting and dimming system comprises 150 quality wall washes, 30 interchangeable lenses and ten projection spotlights, controlled through a user-friendly touch screen interface.

The new lighting scheme has many benefits including a reduction in lighting consumption, operational costs and the building’s carbon footprint, while increasing quality of light and versatility.

The project predicts energy savings of 37,674 kWh annually, equivalent to 37 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and $12,919 in expenditure savings.




Bundanon Trust – Landcare Living Landscapes

This project is an environmental and educational initiative to restore over 1,000 hectares of Bundanon’s degraded landscape, increase biodiversity, capture carbon, and provide habitat for 13 threatened species that call the area home.

Conducted in partnership with Landcare Australia and volunteers, outcomes of the project include control of noxious and priority environmental weeds; reforestation under the Carbon Farming Initiative Methodology; and the improvement of agricultural productivity and sustainability of the Bundanon Trust’s grazing operations.  




Berrima District Museum – Cloud Stories

A ‘cloud story’ is a stand-alone digital exhibition or one used to complement an existing

exhibition by integrating the stories of people, places and objects. The Museum originally developed the concept to enhance and expand its Anzac Centenary exhibition, but with limited physical exhibition space Cloud Stories offers flexibility to expand and complement existing exhibitions inexpensively.

The cloud story technology encourages re-visitation as content can be continually updated. Visitors can continue their exhibition experience anywhere, anytime on their own personal digital device, sharing it with friends and family and developing new audiences.

The concept allows small regional museums and galleries to keep pace with the way major institutions are using digital technology and meet visitors’ changing expectations.




Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre – Neural Knitwork: Craft a healthy brain

Developed by artist and laboratory scientist Pat Pillai in collaboration with Rita Pearce, an artist and registered nurse in aged care, this project aimed to combine art and science to increase awareness about brain health and neuroscience.

Participants were invited to create scientifically-informed ‘neurons’ through knitting, crochet or knot patterns. The neurons were then woven together to form a giant ‘neural network’—a large soft-sculptural representation of the brain that formed the centrepiece of the exhibition.

The project was the first of its kind in Australia bringing together artists, scientists, health care specialists and the community. This unique partnership led to the establishment of the Southern Sydney Science Hub, a joint project with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Sutherland Shire Council. The Hub aims to develop projects that increase understanding and awareness of science and art.



Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest – City of Plenty

Artist-in-residence Sarah Goffman, constructed a ‘city’ made of donated non-perishable food and house-hold consumables, with the main gallery dedicated as an open studio to encourage active participation from audiences.

The project provided visitors with direct access to a contemporary artist working in a gallery space and increased awareness of social inequity, consumption and waste.

This ambitious project created opportunities for the Gallery to partner with business, education and community services to benefit the community’s most needy. Partnerships will local schools, traditional media, and an online crowd-sourcing and social media campaign were all integral to the success of the short-term project.

At the conclusion of the ‘call to action’ project over $20,000 worth of food had been collected and distributed into the community by OzHarvest and Penrith Community Kitchen.


Highly Commended

Bathurst Regional Art Gallery – Bathurst Possum Skin Cloak Healing Workshop

In the lead-up to Bathurst’s Bicentenary, the Gallery worked with the Bathurst Wiradjuri community and Elders to present a workshop to learn the cultural skills and protocols of cloak-making, one of the most sacred cultural expressions of the Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia.

By facilitating skill-sharing, discussion and cultural connection with members of the Aboriginal community the workshop facilitated opportunity for the non-Aboriginal community to learn about Wiradjuri heritage.

Two cloaks were created: one to be used in events commemorating the 200 year anniversary of the proclamation of Bathurst, and the other was presented to Bathurst’s Mayor in a symbolic gesture of goodwill and a powerful act of Reconciliation.




Australian Museum – DigiVol

This program is the first volunteer-based crowdsourcing venture for digitising natural history collections, a model which has been adopted by a number of Australian and international institutions including the Smithsonian and New York Botanical Gardens.

The program aims to facilitate the development of citizen scientists of all ages, building a community that can make a significant contribution to collection management and biodiversity knowledge in Australia. Volunteers digitally document specimens and their labels, research and add related online scientific data, before importing it into the collection database.

To date DigiVol has added 119,518 records to the Museum’s collection database.




Joe Eisenberg : Maitland Regional Art Gallery 

Joe came to Maitland with a vision. Leading a small team Joe began to build a cultural centre of excellence with education at is heart. He started small—making the gallery shop profitable, setting up a gallery membership system and a volunteer program, and actively utilising the Cultural Gifts Program and other government programs to methodically build the collection.

He fostered artists—over time, and with initiatives like the Art Factory, a two storey gallery and workshop space for children and young people to create. More recently Joe pushed for an innovative health program including an Art and Dementia program and the Creative Journeys program for people living with mental health issues.

Joe leaves a legacy of over 4,000 artworks in the Gallery collections valued at over $7 million. He was influential in regional galleries developing collection specialties, exemplified by the Gallery’s own Works on Paper collection featuring significant Australian and international artists.


Highly Commended

Janelle Boyd : Moree Plains Gallery   

Janelle is a passionate advocate for inclusive art programs that engage and support all members of the community.

Throughout her time at the Gallery, Janelle has worked tirelessly to connect with local disability groups including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She creates inclusive and enjoyable programs for people of all ages and abilities, and these programs now form the basis of the Gallery’s workshop program attracting over 50 participants a week from diverse backgrounds. In partnership with Centacare and Family Support, as part of the Rural Family Resilience Program, Janelle visits remote communities to offer support through art programs. This, and her close relationship with the Kamilaroi Elders has significantly increased attendance at the Gallery and its events.




Theodorus Bollen : Griffith War Memorial Museum

Theodorus is highly valued by the Museum. He lends his hands to many tasks: he has been responsible for research projects culminating in permanent exhibitions; he manages the Museum web page and regularly updates exhibition information; he established contact with local service clubs, schools, and businesses; and has been successful in attracting both in kind and financial support for the Museum.

Theo has undertaken to digitally document museum objects with reference to the early hard copy catalogue in accordance with National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries guidelines.

Theodorus has established a strong link with the Aboriginal community in Griffith and has supported them to research military service records of their family members. In order to document the Aboriginal participation in Australia’s military campaigns, he has prepared a draft index of Aboriginal people covering a 300 kilometre radius around Griffith.


Highly Commended

Lyn Hall : Berrima District Museum

Lyn Hall has been a volunteer with the Museum for over 11 years.

Using her professional graphic design experience she manages, designs and produces exhibitions, as well as all the Museum’s marketing material. Her graphic design input to the Anzac Centenary fundraising program was critical in achieving community support for the project. Lyn has also made an important contribution to the photographic documentation of the collection.

In addition to Lyn’s artistic contribution she contributes to the overall Museum management and activities on a regular basis. Supportive of training and engaging new volunteers, Lyn was a major driver in the successful completion of M&G NSW’s Museum Standards Program and her continued participation and contribution to the management committee is highly valued.

Lyn is steadfast and loyal, and her demonstrated commitment to achieving the highest possible standards has been a gift for the Museum.


Special Award

Wendy Hucker
Contribution to Women’s History and Museum Practice in NSW