Museums & Galleries Qld

Virginia Rigney, Gold Coast City Gallery, and Imelda Miller, Queensland Museum, honoured in the 2013 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards

Posted on: 13 December 2013

Museum & Gallery Services Queensland (M&GSQ) proudly announced the recipients of the 2013 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards (GAMAA) at a special event hosted by Museum of Brisbane on 22 November. Guest presenter, Hon. Ian Walker, Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts presented the winners with specially-commissioned trophies created by Queensland artists, Charlotte Beeron, Theresa Beeron, Ethel Murray and John Murray, represented by Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre.

We bring you the stories on each of the Winners and Special Commendation recipients of the 2013 GAMAA in five categories. In this second article, we announce the GAMAA recipients in the category, ‘Individuals: Paid’:

WINNER – Virginia Rigney, Senior Curator, Gold Coast City Gallery

SPECIAL COMMENDATION – Imelda Miller, Assistant Curator, Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Indigenous Studies, Queensland Museum

This category was generously sponsored by the Regional Galleries Association of Queensland. The Winner receives a prize to the value of $1,000.


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Virginia Rigney is a Senior Curator at the Gold Coast City Gallery. Over the past ten years, Virginia has championed the culture of the Gold Coast, using engaging and innovative ways to tell its diverse stories. She has sought to investigate and present exhibitions, public programs and writing to identify and make visible the character and visual culture of the Gold Coast. This has been done in an environment where such a ‘culture’ has been disparaged – where stereotypes persist that it is a city of no culture and no history.

Virginia has instigated and curated a range of significant and innovative exhibitions, using digital platforms to convey rich content ideas, designing public programs that enable different sections of the community to engage with the concepts of these exhibitions, and linking the Gallery’s programming to community events, such as festivals. Some of these include: John Gollings: Learning from Surfers Paradise – a Rephotography Project (2013); Sexualising the City: Imaging Desire and Gold Coast Identity (2012); One Thousand Days: Robert Brownhall and the Gold Coast (2012); Marian Drew and Alana Hampton: Lorikeet Island (2011); Michael Aird: Woongompah My Country (2010); Surfing the 60s: The emergence of Surf Culture on the Gold Coast (2006); All that Glitters: Souvenirs of the Gold Coast (2004).

Virginia has been a strong advocate of professional development and strives to build links between practitioners and the creative industries and business sector by developing partnerships and multi-level engagement with the community. For example, Virginia has worked closely with Queensland College of Art on the Gold Coast for over ten years to help students to foster the development of their practice. She has also profiled the past work of now elderly Gold Coast citizens and has organised a number of events that encourage community memory and connection between young and old. These have included seminars on Highway Heritage, Gold Coast fashion design of the 1950s and 60s, and a popular Remembering ‘73 event for the John Gollings exhibition.

In choosing Virginia as the Winner in the ‘Individuals: Paid’ category, the GAMAA Judges commended her excellent standards of exhibition practice and curatorship and high-quality programming. They also acknowledged Virginia’s commitment to education and professional development, playing a significant mentorship role in working with young and emerging curators and artists.


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Imelda Miller is the Assistant Curator, Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Indigenous Studies, at Queensland Museum. Imelda has worked in the museum sector for close to twenty years, engaging with communities to deliver projects and to ensure that their stories are represented in the State’s collections.

As a key curator managing the Torres Strait Islander and Pacific Indigenous collections held at Queensland Museum, Imelda has worked with local and international researchers to identify the immense significance of the collections. Imelda has also been instrumental in making collection items publicly accessible through museum displays and online exhibitions such as Awakenings: Stories From the Torres Strait.

Imelda’s success with these projects is due to her exceptional community engagement skills; in particular in raising the profile of Australian South Sea Islander (ASSI) people living in Queensland.

In 2013, Imelda played a pivotal role in the delivery of commemorative programs to celebrate ASSI 150 Years, encouraging and facilitating a high level of community participation and ownership, and creating a vital link between collecting organisations and the ASSI community. Of particular note was the lead role Imelda took in delivering the cross-Cultural Precinct project, Memories From a Forgotten People: 150 Years of Australian South Sea Islander contributions to Queensland. This partnership project delivered by State Library of Queensland, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Performing Arts Complex and Queensland Museum, was delivered throughout August 2013 and included several exhibitions highlighting stories of ASSI people through digital storytelling, photographs and objects as well a symposium and storytelling sessions. Imelda edited the State Library of Queensland’s dedicated ASSI blog, inviting guest bloggers to contribute, which was a huge success.

Imelda also co-curated an exhibition with John Waldron, The Australian South Sea Islanders,  for display at State Library of Queensland’s The Studio in August 2013. The exhibition highlighted the often difficult and hidden stories and celebrated the resilience and vibrancy of the ASSI community today.

Imelda also assisted other community groups in central and north Queensland to mark the ASSI 150 celebrations.

In awarding Imelda  a Special Commendation in the ‘Individuals: Paid’ category, the GAMAA judges recognised her as a role model, demonstrating dynamic commitment and leadership in working with Indigenous communities. Imelda was commended for her contribution to the ASSI community, especially for the enormous role she played and the countless volunteer hours she contributed to the success of the ASSI 150 commemorative program in 2013.


The 2013 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 2013 GAMAA were proudly sponsored by Museum of Brisbane, Brian Tucker Accounting, Brandi Projects, Archival Survival, Regional Galleries Association of Queensland and Museums Australia Queensland.


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Museums & Galleries Queensland

122 Gerler Rd, Hendra QLD 4011

Phone: 07 3059 9740

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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Rebekah Butler, Executive Director
Debra Beattie, General Manager
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Donna Davis, Exhibition Program Officer
Bonnie Melrose, Exhibition Program Officer
Andrea Higgins, Exhibition Program Officer

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