Sharks, Burra and Progress Shark all win at Museums and Galleries National Awards.

18 May 2023, Sydney: The Australian Museum (AM) has been recognised with three national awards at the 2023 Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNAs) for its outstanding work across exhibitions and engagement. The AM won the Temporary or Travelling Exhibition category for its homegrown blockbuster exhibition, Sharks, the Interpretation, Learning & Audience Engagement category for its learning and play space, Burra, and the Community Engagement and Outreach category for World Pride at the Australian Museum.

Progress Shark - World Pride Feb 2023
As part of Sydney WorldPride’s Rainbow City, the Australian Museum transformed our iconic shark statue in support and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community, with the help of Sydney artist George Buchanan. Image: Megan Lawrence
© Australian Museum

Members of the Australian Museum team, including AM Chief Experience Officer Russell Briggs, accepted the awards at the national ceremony held Tuesday 16 May at the Murrook Cultural Centre in Newcastle as part of the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) National Conference.

Director and CEO, Australian Museum, Kim McKay AO, congratulated the entire AM team for this outstanding recognition.

Sharks exhibition launch
Official launch of the Sharks exhibition at the Australian Museum by CEO and Director of the AM Kim McKay AO and the NSW Treasurer, the Hon Matt Kean, on Sunday 25 September 2022. The event featured dancers from Mer (Murray) Island led by Obery Sambo performing shark themed dances. Image: James Alcock
© Australian Museum

“It’s fantastic to see the AM’s outstanding exhibitions and community engagement continue to be recognised at a national level. It is the second year in a row that we’ve won for our exhibitions. Last year, the AM’s ground-breaking First Nations exhibition, Unsettled, also took home the award for best temporary exhibition in its category,” McKay said.

“This year, we are thrilled to be recognised for our homegrown blockbuster Sharks exhibition, which closed in April and will now tour museums across the United States. Our popular learning and play space Burra, which combines First Nations and western science, has also been awarded, as well as our community engagement for our World Pride activities held at the Australian Museum, which included the unofficial icon of World Pride, Progress Shark,” McKay said.

Burra Photoshoot July 2022
Join burra (eel) on a fascinating learning journey through Country, at this exciting new state-of-the-art education space that immerses you in Western science and First Nations knowledges. Trace the incredible migration of burra along estuaries and rivers, across rockpools and out to sea. As you follow the life-cycle of this surprisingly resilient fish, you and your children will learn about our environment, the Australian Museum’s science, and the importance of caring for Country and each other. A truly unique experience in the heart of Gadigal Country where you can explore at your own pace or join a free pop-up event. Children are invited to touch, listen and see while exploring the giant burra, sensory walls and interactive play zones. General entry to the Australian Museum and Burra is free! Image: Anna Kučera
© Australian Museum

AM Chief Experience Officer Russell Briggs thanked the teams across the AM who contributed to the success and helped the AM take home these awards.

“I am so proud of the work our teams have accomplished this year. Thanks to free general admission, blockbuster exhibitions like Sharks, transformed spaces like Burra and positive engagement with the community including during World Pride, the AM reached the one million visitor milestone for the first time in its nearly 200-year history,” Briggs said.

The AM will deliver additional new cultural exhibitions and galleries over the coming months, including Bilas: Body Adornment in Papua New Guinea (opening June 2023), a new Pasifika Gallery (opening October 2023) and Ramses The Great and The Gold of The Pharaohs (opening November 2023).

The AM was also shortlisted for two other 2023 Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards (MAPDAs), including for Mineral Icons (Major Exhibition Catalogue MAPDA Category) and Minerals Gallery online publication (Program Website MAPDA Category).

Minerals gallery documentation 30 Jan 2023
The permanent Minerals gallery opened in December 2022 features over 1800 specimens on the level 1 gallery space. The exhibition draws from the best of the Australian Museum Minerology collection of approximately 80,000 specimens collected across nearly 200 years. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

About the Australian Museum

The Australian Museum (AM) was founded in 1827 and is the nation’s first museum. It is internationally recognised as a natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. The AM’s mission is to ignite wonder, inspire debate and drive change. The AM’s vision is to be a leading voice for the richness of life, the Earth and culture in Australia and the Pacific. The AM commits to transforming the conversation around climate change, the environment and wildlife conservation; to being a strong advocate for First Nations cultures; and to continuing to develop world-leading science, collections, exhibitions and education programs. With 22 million objects and specimens and the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM is not only a dynamic source of reliable scientific information on some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges facing our region, but also an important site of cultural exchange and learning.

Media Contact

Claire Vince, Media and Communications Adviser

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