The Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology was last night announced as a winner and a finalist at the GAMAA awards. The awards – Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards – are presented annually to honour the achievements of individuals and organisations in striving towards excellence in the museum and gallery industry.
With six categories for organisations, (including projects, engagement and sustainability) and two for individuals, the Abbey Museum was proudly announced as a finalist for engagement in the organisational category and also as a winner in the individual awards for volunteer staff.
The Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology is situated near in the Moreton Bay town of Caboolture, an hour north of Brisbane and is one of Brisbane’s most unique museums. It has one of the finest collections of European and Classical artefacts open to the public in Australia. The Museum’s collection includes prehistoric artefacts, ceramics, glass, stained glass, metalwork, woodwork, lacquer, sculptures, manuscripts and rare books, Renaissance and Baroque paintings, water colours, icons and frescos. The collection covers over 500,000 years of world history and endeavours to educate and inspire through its displays and public programs.
Individual GAMAA Award
The individual GAMAA award went to Michael Strong who is the volunteer Senior Curator at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology. An avid self-learner with a passion for history and archaeology, Michael has a deep personal commitment and connection to the legacy of John Ward, the founder of the original Abbey Museum in England. Michael spearheaded the establishment of the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology in Australia, driving its design and construction, installation of permanent exhibitions, and construction and installation of a manuscript gallery. He presents lectures and guided tours of the Museum and the medieval stained glass in the Abbey Church; has written numerous articles on the collection and initiated the Museum’s Aboriginal heritage trails which have been a foundation of the Museum’s education programs. He also contributes significantly to the Museum’s annual flagship event, the Abbey Medieval Festival.
Michael began a quest in the 1980s to build a museum to house this extraordinary collection, raising around $1 million in support. He was volunteer Director of the Museum until 2012, when he took on a more focused role of Senior Curator, managing the collections, developing and upgrading displays; and managing a team of volunteer researchers.
Recognised nationwide for hosting the annual Abbey Medieval Festival, the Abbey Museum also received a trophy as a finalist in organisation award for engagement for their Medieval Family Fun Week. Other finalists were Logan Art Gallery, Museum of Brisbane, Old Government House and Queensland Museum Network, with joint winners in this category announced as Queensland Museum Network for The Science Festival and Logan Art Gallery for their indigenous exhibition. This was a very competitive category and for the Abbey Museum to be announced as a finalist competing with these institutions, is certainly an achievement. The Medieval Family Fun week is child focused and designed to engage, educate and inspire young people while they have fun participating in medieval arts, crafts, archaeology and activities. It is an important adjunct to the Abbey Medieval Festival, attracting a wider audience and providing experiences that cannot be catered for during the festival weekend.
Museums & Galleries Queensland (M&G QLD) Executive Director, Rebekah Butler who presented the GAMAA award said, ‘We congratulate Michael Strong on being recognised in this (Individual) category. For more than thirty years, he has made an immense contribution to the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology and to our sector more broadly. This accolade is a testament to Michael’s vision and leadership. In addition, ‘Being recognised in this category (Engagement) is a testament to the remarkable achievements and programming of the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology and their commitment to meaningfully engage audiences across all generations. ‘
The museum which is very unique to Australia has a very interactive public programs including the Abbey Medieval Festival, Picnic at Pemberley, Kids Medieval Fun week and several educational programs aligned with the Queenlsand educational curriculum.