Small but perfectly formed: LG museum wins national award

Newcastle Museum has become the first local government-funded museum to be declared the overall winner at the Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNA).

The museum won the award for Temporary or Travelling Exhibition Level 1 (for projects with a budget below $20,000) before going on to win the overall national award out of 42 finalists across the 16 categories with its 1X4 exhibition.

1X4, which ended in May, curated items from Newcastle Museum’s own collection, where each object told four different stories.

Instead of displaying labels on a wall, each object’s stories were told via attendees’ mobile phones or tablets, where, by visiting the exhibition website, the stories unfolded in greater detail.

MAGNA judges praised the 1X4 exhibition for its low-cost approach (“small and perfectly formed from start to finish”) and for offering a strong template for others to follow.

Another City of Newcastle facility was recognised as well, with the Newcastle Art Gallery’s On Stillness exhibition highly commended in the same category as Newcastle Museum’s 1X4.

Other local government MAGNA winners included the Museum of Brisbane for its city history exploration exhibition The Storytellers (under the category Temporary or Travelling Exhibition Level 3 – project budgets between $150,000 and $500,000) – while NSW’s Tweed Regional Museum was recognised in the same category at Level 2 – project budgets between $20,000 and $150,000 – for its LGBTQIA+ exhibition Small Town Queer.

The Sunshine Coast Council’s First Nations’ at Bankfoot House, a virtual reality experience, took out the Level 2 (project budget $20,000-$150,000) award for “Interpretation, Learning and Audience Engagement.