Mokau Museum takes out national award
Mokau's recently transformed museum has jumped in the ring with the bigger players and come up trumps.
Mokau's Tainui Historical Society Museum bagged the Visitor Experience Award at the ServiceIQ 2017 New Zealand Museum Awards on Tuesday at an official ceremony held in Palmerston North, where there were 27 national finalists in eight award categories.
Museum volunteer Jan Brown said the seaside settlement was abuzz after taking out the national award.
The award was sitting centre place at the building's front counter and Brown said she just couldn't stop looking at it.
"We are just so, so delighted," she said.
It was the first time the museum had ever been entered in the annual awards and given its size Brown was dubious they would come out on top.
She believed they were the smallest museum to have ever been nominated.
"You just have to put your hat in the ring with all the big boys."
Other finalists in the category were Museum Theatre Gallery Hawkes Bay and Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Brown said both were well-resourced and had a bigger staff than that at Mokau.
"I think the judges must have enjoyed the journey of a tiny, struggling rural museum.
"They said we had done everything we could to bring a little museum into the 21st century in a sustainable way."
The win was testament to the hard work the team of 10 volunteers and the wider community had recently undertaken to transform the museum.
The gallery was made-over early last year with the help of New Zealand production company Top Shelf Productions' show, Heritage Rescue.
Volunteers also worked to save the museum by engaging with local marae and council to encourage tourism. They have since achieved a near 500 per cent increase in visitor numbers.
Brown said being on the show had boosted the museum's profile and that had played a part in their decision for entering the awards.
"It's been a year of phenomenal increase and change, it was now or never really."
The increased interest also meant the team had to work a bit harder to keep up with demand.
"We're quite stretched, we would love to have more volunteers."