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2021 National Contemporary Art Award

28 August - 28 November 2021

 Free entry

Each year the National Contemporary Art Award brings the best in Aotearoa contemporary art to the Waikato. Entries are drawn from across the country and from New Zealand artists living overseas.

The overall winner will receive $20,000 from co-sponsors Tompkins Wake and Chow:Hill Architects. The Hugo Charitable Trust Award of $5000 will go to the runner-up, while two merit award winners will receive $1000 each, supported by Random Art Group and Friends of Waikato Museum.

Entries for the 2021 Award opened on Thursday 18 March and closed at 1pm on Wednesday 2 June. The finalists’ works will be exhibited at Waikato Museum from 28 August until 28 November.

The 2021 National Contemporary Art Award winners will be announced on 27 August at the gala opening of the exhibition. The $250 Campbell Smith Memorial People’s Choice Award winner will be decided by public vote.

The Dowse Art Museum Director Karl Chitham (Ngaa Puhi, Te Uriroroi) will select this year’s finalists and prize winners. He is an experienced judge, with recent credits including the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and the selection panel for the New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Well-known in art circles around New Zealand, Chitham has held curatorial roles at Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa and Objectspace.

The National Contemporary Art Award was launched in 2000 by the Waikato Society of Arts and has been managed by Waikato Museum since 2006.


2021 National Contemporary Art Award Conditions of Entry can be found HERE

2021 National Contemporary Art Award Frequently Asked Questions can be found HERE


Important Dates

Entries for the Award open on Thursday 18 March

Entries close at 1pm on Wednesday 2 June

Winners will be announced on 27 August at the gala opening of the exhibition

Exhibition opens from 28 August and runs until 28 November (free entry)


Major Sponsors


Hugo Award

hugo roundel green RGB009A49

Merit Awards

Random Art Group

Friends of Waikato Museum

People's Choice Award

Family of former Waikato Museum Director Campbell Smith