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Te Manawa wins Arts Access Museum Award 2017

Palmerston North’s Te Manawa, Museum of Art, Science and History has won the inaugural Arts Access Museum Award 2017 for its commitment to putting access and inclusion front and centre stage. The award was presented on 23 May at MA17, Museum Aotearoa’s national conference on in Palmerston North.

Richard Benge, Arts Access Aotearoa, left, with Te Manawa staff.

The Arts Access Museum Award was presented to Andy Lowe, Chief Executive of Te Manawa, by Richard Benge, Executive Director, Arts Access Aotearoa and judging panel member.

“We applaud Te Manawa’s commitment to building a space where everyone is welcome and included,” Richard Benge said. “Working in partnership with local organisations and inviting people with disabilities to participate in the museum’s programmes provides an excellent example of inclusion for others to follow.”

The MA17 conference theme is He Waka Eke Noa, Museums of Inclusion. Andy Lowe said there was a global movement for museums to be inclusive, collaborative and accessible.

“We thrive on the idea that museums are inclusive places, where the community has the opportunity to co-create spaces,” Andy Lowe said. “Having diverse people rubbing shoulders creates a wild, surprising kind of energy, which means anything can happen – and often does.”

The judging panel, comprising Richard Benge, accessibility consultant Robyn Hunt and Phillipa Tocker, Executive Director, Museums Aotearoa, highlighted two projects that demonstrated Te Manawa’s commitment to ensuring access for all: its NOA Open Studio and the exhibition Inspired By in 2016.

“These projects are the product of an ongoing commitment to inclusion across Te Manawa – from governance to front of house staff, fully embracing community ownership of the museum,” the judges said.

In 2013, Te Manawa welcomed the community-based creative space Creative Journeys and its clients to start making art in its main foyer twice a week.

“Over the years, we worked together on a number of collaborative projects, using our collections and spaces in surprising ways,” Andy said. “The artists were part of the Te Manawa family. They shared our staffroom for lunch. We all sang waiata in the foyer, and they contributed to our events, openings and to special days such as International Women’s Day and Waitangi Day.”

This partnership culminated in an exhibition in 2016, called Inspired By. Here, the artists’ works were hung alongside significant works from the museum’s collection by artists such as Colin McCahon, Buck Nin, Ngahina Hohaia, Ann Verdcourt and John Bevan Ford.

In November 2016, Te Manawa began NOA Open Studio in the main foyer. It’s different to the Creative Journeys programme because it’s open to all people of all abilities.

NOA attracts between 15 and 20 people to each of its two weekly sessions with many more during the school holidays. The participants – children and adults – drive the space and respond to the museum’s collections, exhibitions and events through drawing, painting, sculpting, music and drama.

“Te Manawa is on a journey and many of our communities seem to be excited to be on this journey with us,” Andy Lowe said.


Updated on 31st May 2017