Museums & Galleries Qld

Museum organisations from Mackay and Chinchilla regions honoured in 2012 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards

Posted on: 30 November 2012

We continue our stories on each of the Winners and Special Commendation recipients of the 2012 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards (GAMAA) in five categories.

Museum and Gallery Services Queensland (M&GSQ) proudly announced the recipients of the 2012 GAMAA at a special event hosted by the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Caboolture, on Saturday 17 November. Guest presenter, Hon. Ros Bates, Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts congratulated this year’s recipients and presented the winners with a specially-commissioned trophy created by Queensland artist, Donna Marcus.

In our third article, we announce the GAMAA recipients in the category, ‘Organisations: Volunteer Run’:

WINNER – Pioneer Valley Museum at Mirani, Mackay Historical Society and Museum, Mackay Regional Council Library Service Heritage Collection, Greenmount Homestead and Sarina District Historical Society and Museum for their collaborative project,  Sugar Strike: The Impact of the 1911 Sugar Strike on the Mackay region.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION – Chinchilla Historical Society Inc. for Making the Museum More Relevant to the Local Community.

This category was generously sponsored by Archival Survival. The Winner receives archival goods to the value of $1,000.


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Pioneer Valley Museum at Mirani; Mackay Historical Society and Museum; Mackay Regional Council Library Service Heritage Collection; Greenmount Homestead; Sarina District Historical Society and Museum: Sugar Strike: The Impact of the 1911 Sugar Strike on the Mackay region.

Sugar Strike: The Impact of the 1911 Sugar Strike on the Mackay region was a collaborative project by five historical organisations in the Mackay area to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 1911 Sugar Strike. Although these groups actively networked, the project represented the first time they had collaborated on a display, working with Queensland Museum’s Museum Development Officer, Bronwyn Roper, to combine their individual planning into a joint initiative.

The history of the sugar industry is documented throughout the region’s collections, which are cared for by passionate volunteers and Mackay Regional Council employees. A visit to any one of these collections offers part of a tapestry telling the story of the region’s past.

The resulting display from the Sugar Strike project is a cube-like structure (representative of a sugar cube) that can be easily dismantled for transportation and is readily available for any of the groups to use. The display communicates the important role the region played in state and national events, leading to the formation of the Australian Workers Union. The exhibition recognises the significance of the sugar industry in the Mackay region, the role of South Sea Islanders both within the industry and within the local community, and gives an important profile to the participating community museums.

The exhibition also showcased a flag sewn by strikers and signed by a union representative during the Sugar Strike. Previously the flag had never left the Pioneer Valley Museum at Mirani, however the participating volunteers worked with the Museum Development Officer to learn how to protect, transport and display the flag safely.

The volunteers from these five organisations also gained valuable professional development in areas such as grant writing, exhibition design, travelling exhibition requirements, display and installation techniques, and preparing exhibition support material and publicity materials.


Chinchilla Historical Society: Making the Museum More Relevant to the Local Community

In 2007 the Chinchilla Historical Society was facing a decline in visitation to the Museum due to its “off highway” position and they were deeply concerned about the future sustainability of the Museum in its current guise. The Society took a strong leadership role in trying to address this problem, ardently pursuing plans to redevelop the Museum and relocate it to a more visible location to attract the tourist market. After five years of developing this proposal, the Society accepted that it could not get the vital support it needed to realise this plan, and was facing the prospect of closing the Museum’s doors.

With the support of Queensland Museum’s Museum Development Officer, Vicki Warden, they chose instead to reinvent the Museum on its present site and focus on making it more relevant to the local community. The extensive consultation that the Society had undertaken in developing their earlier proposal had given them a sound insight into the needs of the region and they built this into a new five-year Business Plan that focused on engaging and value-adding to the local community on many levels.

The plan includes upgrading the facilities, reviewing and storing some of the objects on display, rearranging exhibits, improving the grounds and redeveloping the museum as a community hub and a major event venue for community use.

The plan also aims to consolidate existing partnerships and develop new partnerships with local groups, businesses and industries to support a range of interpretations that share local stories with the community. Related community groups will also be invited to co-habit on the museum site, providing much-needed accommodation for these groups while value-adding to the visitor experience.

The changes made as a result of the Business Plan have already had a positive impact on the Museum’s visitor numbers, with an an increase to visitation by 25% over a six-month period. The shift in focus has also resulted in a high level of access by community groups.


The 2012 GAMAA was presented by Museum and Gallery Services Queensland. This prestigious annual event is designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements, professional excellence and innovation of Queensland’s museums and galleries. The Awards recognise the valuable contribution our State’s museums and galleries make to enriching their local and wider communities, and honour the extraordinary commitment and talents of paid professionals and volunteers working in the industry.

For a full list of winners and photos of the event, and to see what the GAMAA Judges said, go to the M&GSQ website at

The 2012 GAMAA were proudly sponsored by the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Brian Tucker Accountant, Brandi Projects, Archival Survival, Regional Galleries Association of Queensland and Museums Australia Queensland.


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Museums & Galleries Queensland

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Museums & Galleries Queensland is the peak professional body for the public museum and gallery sector in Queensland.

Museums & Galleries Queensland promotes, supports and provides services to foster excellence in museums, galleries and keeping places. We strive to ensure a future where museums, galleries and keeping places are relevant, accessible and valued by their communities.

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