Auckland War Memorial Museum has earned New Zealand a major win at the 2012 Museums and Web Awards in San Diego thanks to its impressive use of technology and storytelling to bring to life a marine research exhibition to the Kermadec Islands.
The Museum won the prestigious Social Media Award after entering the blog that shared the real time events of the 21 day research trip to New Zealand's largest marine reserve in May 2011. The biodiversity expedition was successful in discovering 17 new species for the area including several fish completely new to science.
Judges at the Museums and the Web annual awards were impressed with how the social media platform was used to bridge the online public with the off-site research activities, taking followers on a scientific journey of discovery.
A dialogue was created between those on board and those online as photos and videos from the trip were uploaded for people at home to see. The research team were able to share their adventure by encouraging questions ranging from fellow scientists to young children about the new findings.
This was a particularly impressive feat, considering the team uploaded content from a boat surrounded by 13 remote volcanic Islands, 900km north-east of New Zealand. But it was made possible thanks to the satellite communication system and the efforts of Alison Balance, the science communicator and resident journalist aboard the ship, who communicated the stories of discovery throughout the expedition.
The blog received 10,400 views over a one month period and 200 comments were made on around 50 multimedia posts.
Director of ICT and Digital Media at Auckland War Memorial Museum, Karen Mason, describes the award as "a huge accolade."
"This is a real milestone for us. It's external endorsement that we are capable of providing compelling online content alongside everything we do, onsite and in the community," she says.
As a result of the expedition, the Museum now holds the world's most comprehensive collection of the Kermadec Islands' plant and animal life. And this year, it will publish more than 20 peer-reviewed papers, followed by substantial programming in 2013.
Kermadec Expedition Blog
Museums and the Web 2012 Award
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