Annual Awards for Excellence 2023


It’s time to celebrate archaeology in museums once again! We are pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the Society for Museum Archaeology Annual Awards For Excellence 2023. It’s easy to apply, and winners will presented with their award at the SMA conference on 16th November.  More information can be found by downloading this document , but here’s a quick overview:

  1. Exhibition, Display or Interpretation Project
  2. Collections based project
  3. Engagement and/or Collaboration project
  4. Volunteering Award

All projects should have been completed between January 1st 2022 and July 31st 2023 within the UK. Entries can be for physical or digital projects.


CLOSING DATE for entry is midnight on 15th OCTOBER 2023.

Winners will be notified by Wednesday 25th October. Awards will be presented at the SMA conference on Thursday 16th November.

Good luck!

SMA Award winners 2022


WINNER: Worthing Museum, the National Trust and the South Downs National Park Authority

For their project ‘Cissbury Ring Goes Digital’.

What’s it about?

The South Downs landscape is full of iconic archaeological sites, celebrating the mutual influences between landscape and people over time. This project partnered with Worthing Museum to interpret a landscape space – in essence, using archaeological objects and archive records to tell the story of Cissbury in an engaging and accessible way, while also giving the public an opportunity to ‘meet the archaeologists’ on camera.

Some comments from the judges:

“This project represents an exciting approach to recontextualising archaeological collections and linking them to their original landscapes beyond the museum space. It notes the partnerships which underpinned the development of the project as well as the potential for other organisations and institutions to replicate or advance the same approach. The provision of archaeological interpretation on site and linking with the original finds and stories from those sites is dynamic and accessible to a wide range of audiences. It also suggests the potential opportunities that this approach provides for engaging with new and different audiences who may not frequent archaeological museums”.

“This is a clear and concise application. The project is creative, utilising a wide range of existing resources from an individual site to give a detailed picture of its archaeology in an innovative and engaging way. The project team have demonstrated excellent and fruitful cross-organisational working. This project is an example of a high impact, low-cost option that could be used at other similar sites”.

“I love everything about this project – embedding archaeological collections back into the landscape, the increased access, the partnership working and the relatively low-cost. Well done!”


 WINNER: Oxfordshire Museums Service

For their project ‘Oxfordshire Museums Service Developing Digital Access & Community Engagement Pilot Project 2021-22’.

What’s it about?

This project was designed to try new approaches to reach different audiences online and in person using the Oxfordshire Museums Service (OMS) archaeological collection. Eynsham and the surrounding community was used as the sample area for the pilot. The pilot was used to engage existing communities with a view to growing partnerships and harnessing local knowledge and enthusiasm and to create a resilient resource of digital images of the archaeology collection for future use.

Some comments from the judges:

“I liked the focus on a single locality and use of archaeology as a tool to help manage change within the community.  The outputs are impressive and mutually beneficial.  As trial project it is good to see it may be adopted to help model further initiatives”.

“This project demonstrated both a significant and in-depth engagement with audiences through the archaeological collections and a contribution to the support and longevity of archaeological collections management. The volunteer engagement with the collection provided notable support for the development of digital database and resources and supported engagement with the wider location community. The additional 3D models, pop-up exhibitions, and heritage open day tours highlight the wide reach of the project beyond the initial group of engaged volunteers and co-curators. It represents an excellent model to trail at other institutions on similar sized projects”.

“This application demonstrates a multi-faceted project that has thoughtfully and successfully engaged a local community with its heritage in innovative and engaging ways. The range of activities designed showed a commitment to reaching different demographics within a community, creating a mix of one-off events as well as elements with legacy benefit (photographs to be linked to museum records)”.


WINNER: Northamptonshire Archaeological Resource Centre

For their project ‘Northamptonshire Archaeological Resource Centre Set-Up Project’.

What’s it about?

The Northamptonshire Archaeological Resource Centre, at the Chester House Estate in Irchester, opened to the public in October 2021 as the new publicly accessible archaeological archive store for Northamptonshire. Since June 2021, our volunteers have been working to assist with the set up of the store and the curation of the collection. Tasks they have undertaken include moving archives, organising, cataloguing and re-packing them. Our team of volunteers have been crucial to the ARC being a success in its first year of being open to the public.

Some comments from the judges:

“The sheer scale of this volunteering project is amazing: 66 vols giving hundreds of hours – new volunteers brought in in short timescale across a range of tasks.  The project does raise questions over the cost of supervision, and that such an important archival transfer should have to be underpinned by voluntary support”.

 “The scope of the work undertaken by the volunteers at the Northamptonshire ARC is very impressive and underscores the extent projects which can be achieved with archaeological collections undertaken by volunteers. It clearly shows the development and engagement of a wide range of volunteers with the collection and their contribution to the longevity and preservation of the archives. The engagement with members of the public through tours is another positive feature of the project which promotes the works of the volunteers, the role and importance of the archive, and may help sustain further volunteer recruitment”.

 “This application details a successful large-scale volunteering project which aimed to create a functioning archaeological archive resource in a short time frame, clearly highlighting the vital and varied roles played by the volunteers. The application highlights the benefits gained by the volunteers by gaining new skills (archive sorting, repackaging, recording, public engagement) as well as the benefits of the organisation in gaining an accessible, well-organised archive resource”.


To promote the interests of archaeology in museums throughout the United Kingdom