On Wednesday 26 July 2017 the wonderful team at Museums Australia (Victoria) held the annual Victorian Museum Awards at ACMI.

It’s always a wonderful night, showcasing the achievements of Victorian museums and galleries over the past year, and offering an unparalleled opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

This year, the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History was nominated for an award, for the online suite of projects produced over the last two years.

These projects began with an online exhibition in 2015 called Trailblazers & Peacekeepers: Honouring the ANZAC Spirit which was the museum’s tribute to not only the anaesthetists and pain medicine specialists from the past, but those who continue to head into war, peacekeeping and emergency relief zones.

We followed that pretty quickly with the first iteration of Lives of the Fellows: 1952. In 1952, 40 medical men and women came together to develop a Faculty of Anaesthetists at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). We wanted to celebrate their foresight, and produced small biographical snapshots of these people.

Since then, we’ve produced two more online exhibitions, From Snake Oil to Science: The development and labelling of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of pain and our latest one, Restoring the Apparently Dead: The search for effective resuscitation techniques. We have also created another iteration of the Lives of the Fellows project, Lives of the Fellows: 1992. In 1992, the former Faculty had progressed to the point where it could comfortably separate from RACS and form a College in its own right. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of that important development.

As well as that, we’ve launched a blog (you’re reading it obviously!), where we get to tell some of the stories found within our collection. There have also been some great guest bloggers, and we’ve started engaging through social media, via Twitter.

If you’ve visited in real life, you’ll know that the physical space for the museum is very small. Our primary audience consists of Fellows and trainees of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, and comes from anywhere between the most remote parts of Australia to the ends of New Zealand. In-house exhibitions are difficult to turn into travelling exhibitions, and our primary audience is located in hospitals and clinics which generally don’t have the capacity to hold an exhibition of any type. Additionally, the “tyranny of distance” ensures people from our primary audience who may want to visit the museum have a number of large barriers to overcome in order to do so. In 2015, the museum made the decision to go to the audience rather than expect the audience to come to it.

Over the past two years we’ve developed a suite of online projects which help us achieve our mission of being a site for preserving, researching and interpreting the history of anaesthesia and related practices, and rather than diminishing physical visitation, many IRL visitors now talk enthusiastically about having seen our online resources which helped them make the decision to visit. In addition, it provides them with a point of reference back to what they’ve seen after their visit.

Our improved engagement with our primary audience via the online projects has flowed through to the broader community, providing opportunities to learn about anaesthesia and the ground breaking clinicians who have reshaped the world of medicine as well as the intricacies and importance of anaesthesia and pain medicine.

We are very excited to announce that we won the award for our category (small museum with up to 1 EFT paid staff) for our suite of online projects. Woo hoo!

So, there are some people to be thanked. Firstly, to the judges, who mustn’t have had an easy job because we were also up against some pretty stiff competition. Small museums do wonderful things, usually with a shoe-string budget and they are generally operated by enthusiastic, passionate volunteers with incredible local and/or subject knowledge. They all deserve to be applauded for their work. In our category, Benalla Aviation Museum received a much deserved Highly Commended for their restoration of a DH 82 Tiger Moth.

The museum has been working with Dimity Mapstone over the last couple of years to develop these online projects. She is patient, skilled and talented, and has an incredible eye for detail and design.

The Geoffrey Kaye Museum wasn’t the only winner on the night. There’s a full list below. Take the time to read through and, if you get the chance, visit a small museum. They really are something special.

And, as a very special treat, you really need to see the award winning crowd funding campaign by Bendigo Tramways. It’s less than 2 minutes and, trust me, you will not regret it.

Full list of winners – Congratulations one and all

Museums Australia (Victoria) Individual Award for Lifetime Achievement
Winner: Dr Linda Young, Deakin University

Museums Australia (Victoria) Individual Award for Excellence (Paid Staff)
Winner: Elizabeth Anya-Petrivna, National Trust (Victoria)

Museums Australia (Victoria) Individual Award for Excellence (Volunteer)
Winner: Gary Lawrence, Daylesford and District Historical Society
Highly Commended: Doug Bradby, Sovereign Hill Museums Association

Roslyn Lawry Award for excellence in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies 
Winner: Eugenia Pacitti

Archival Survival Award for Volunteer-Run Museums
Winner: Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History
Highly Commended: Benalla Aviation Museum 

Archival Survival Award for Small Museums
Winner: Burrinja Cultural CentreBlack Mist, Burnt Country
Highly Commended: The Johnston Collection and Barking Spider Visual TheatreHouse of Dreams

Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Medium Museums
Winner: Bendigo TramwaysCrowdfunding campaign to restore the No 9 tram
Highly Commended: Victoria Police MuseumBehind the Badge: Women of Victoria Police

Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Large Museums
Winner: Melbourne MuseumPauline Gandel Children’s Gallery
Highly Commended: Sovereign Hill Museums AssociationA Victorian Silhouette 

Victorian Collections Award for Excellence in Museum Cataloguing
(Volunteer-Run Organisations)
Winner: Warrnambool and District Historical Society

Victorian Collections Award for Excellence in Museum Cataloguing
(Organisations with Paid Staff)
Winner: Mission to Seafarers Victoria
Highly Commended: Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village 

Victorian Collections Award for War Heritage Collections
(Paid or Volunteer)
Winner: Wagaratta RSL Sub Branch
Highly Commended: Dandenong/Cranbourne RSL Sub Branch

Newly Accredited MAP Museums
Grainger Museum 
Shrine of Remembrance