News Update 19 August 2014

The Museums Aotearoa Board met in Wellington earlier this month. As well as the usual business meeting, we had a strategic planning workshop, and agreed a revised mission statement:

Our mission is to nurture excellence in museums and galleries through advocacy and service, to extend manaakitanga and community value.

Our Board members are very positive about both the thinking that went into articulating this statement, and the strategies that will unfold from it. We will be sharing more of this with members, and inviting your input, at the regional meetings to be held around the country in October and November.

MA15-Final-Logo_pms145_yellow_portrait_webLast week we mailed out a call for proposals for the MA15 conference – Communicating Culture – along with the August issue of Museums Aotearoa Quarterly. Our Dunedin colleagues are planning an inspiring conference with great ideas and enthusiasm. So plan to be there 6-8 May 2015, and think about what you can bring to share and help make it a really active conference. And look out for the first keynote speaker announcement very soon.

As we begin to see some signs of spring chasing away the winter, there are many other activities and events on the calendar. We’re beginning to get ready for a new sector survey to update the last one which was 2 years ago. We’ve been gathering feedback and will be tweaking the questions and improving the methodology so its easier for museums and galleries to contribute their information.

Another piece of research which will be useful for museums is being done by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG). They have just begun a performance study looking into governance of arts, culture and heritage sector. The OAG says that agencies in the arts, culture, and heritage sector need to have good governance and accountability arrangements that maintain the freedom of artistic expression and ensure that the preservation of heritage is not unduly influenced by personal interests. They will examine the governance and accountability policies and practices of a selection of local and central government agencies, looking at the policies they have to manage personal interests. They will also assess and report on how agencies in the sector are accountable to the public, and will compare arrangements in New Zealand with those in other jurisdictions. This will be a useful complement to the 2006 OAG report Management of heritage collections in local museums and art galleries.

City Gallery Wellington's Memory Board

City Gallery Wellington’s Memory Board

There has been plenty of good news about museums and galleries around the country recently. Last week the City Gallery Wellington celebrated 21 years since it opened in the old library building in Civic Square – with Gerda Nana and Philip Robertson on the staff all that time. And next week Puke Ariki will open a new long-term exhibition, Big Time, which opens up current issues around oil and gas in Taranaki, including drilling under the mountain, and fracking.

Auckland has been named the world’s Friendliest City by Condé Nast Traveller, noting its “amazing culture” with special recommendation of Auckland Museum and its Maori collections and cultural performances. That seems reasonable to us, even if it was a tie with Melbourne – noted for nightlife, food and hotels.

The Air Force Museum and Canterbury Museum are finalists in the Canterbury Business Awards, sharing spots in the Tourism/Hospitality (medium/large enterprise) category along with Tekapo’s Earth & Sky. Congratulations to both museums – the awards will be announced on 17 September.


Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

Embracing Digital Culture for Collections by Sarah Powell

In September last year MTG Hawke’s Bay opened its doors exhibiting the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection in a redeveloped modern building.  While the facility itself is a trailblazer for current architectural trends, the online presence of the museum was somewhat underwhelming. Through my role as a Collection Assistant specialising in digitisation, I saw a wealth of potential to highlight aspects of the museum’s broad collection to an online audience.

I was fortunate to attend the 2013 National Digital Forum conference where I was inspired by Simon Tanner who discussed ways of understanding the value and impact of digital culture. He investigated ways for cultural, heritage and creative sectors to cope with the challenges of meeting the public desire for digital content whilst maintaining curatorial responsibilities. His solution was the “Balance Value Impact Model” which he created to assess the value and impact of digital culture on users and adjust the content to meet their needs, rather than creating masses of digital content that has little or no value to anyone¹. Using the BVI Model I approached MTG Director, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, with a strategy that looked at the ways social media could be used to leverage our existing online archive and photographic collection, convey the untold stories of dormant artefacts and create a meaningful experience for our online audience.

With his support my first approach was to use MTG’s existing social media pages to publish stories around objects with historical links to the Hawke’s Bay region. In line with current online trends a Pinterest page was created where we could easily curate themed photographic sets directly from our online catalogue. Further to this, multiple “behind-the-scenes” blogs were published to our wordpress site, covering our autumn installation of exhibitions.  We then established a fortnightly blog schedule and recruited participants from the collections team.

blog 1

Behind the scenes photos of MTG staff working on the autumn exhibition changeovers.

In consultation with the Collections Team Leader we embarked on larger projects which would add depth to our online resources. One example was digitising a recent donation of 150 letters between Bernard Madden, a serviceman in WWII, and the family he left behind in Napier when he embarked on his four year charge in the New Zealand armed forces.  These letters allow for an otherwise unseen view of military service and the home front in what was certainly a tumultuous time.

L: Letter from Bernard Madden, 20 September 1941, gifted by Barbara Madden, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2013/65/10. R: Bernard Madden, photograph courtesy of Barbara Madden.

L: Letter from Bernard Madden, 20 September 1941, gifted by Barbara Madden, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2013/65/10. R: Bernard Madden, photograph courtesy of Barbara Madden.

Another project was photographing a selection of Art Deco Textiles from the HBMT collection in time for Art Deco Weekend and sharing them online in an image gallery. This allowed for the extremely fragile textiles to be viewed time and time again without the risk of being damaged through exhibition display. We were also fortunate to have a local secondary school student who completed her work experience at the museum earlier this year. As part of her placement she created a stunning photographic essay of the museum from her perspective, which we have posted on our Flickr page.

L: Lights, by Gloria Reid. R: Beaded dress and shoes, c 1920, France, gifted by E.C Blackmore, collection of collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 84/95, 84/96

L: Lights, by Gloria Reid. R: Beaded dress and shoes, c 1920, France, gifted by E.C Blackmore, collection of collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 84/95, 84/96

However, the largest collaboration for the museum was linking up with DigitalNZ as a contribution partner by sharing our online content from our photographic and archive collection. From all of these efforts we have noticed a steady increase from online visitors, a growth in the amount of time visitors spend perusing our online catalogue and increased interaction and engagement with our online users. As we have yet to truly assess the impact and value our increased online presence has created for our users, judging from the overall increase in online visitors we are definitely on the right track.

Sarah Powell
MTG Hawke’s Bay
Collections Assistant Photography


Watch Simon Tanners’s 2013 NDF talk here

[1] Tanner, S. (2012) Measuring the Impact of Digital Resources: The Balanced Value Impact Model. King’s College London,  October 2012. Available at:

News Update, 5 August 2014

Kia ora

Our thoughts go out to the whanau and colleagues of Natalie Cadenhead, who passed away last week after a short illness. Natalie will be known to many through her work in Christchurch with Antarctica New Zealand and as Curator of Antarctic and Canterbury Social History at Canterbury Museum. Natalie was more recently working for CERA as Advisor, Cultural Recovery. The large number of both current and past museum staff at her farewell was a real indication of the high regard in which she was held.

This week we are all remembering the start of World War One, and the four years of turmoil it brought not only to the places where it was fought, but also the people in New Zealand and other places whose lives were forever changed by the ‘Great War’. There are so many museum, gallery and other cultural and community activities happening around the country that we can’t possibly list them. A few that caught our attention are the 100-gun salute in Wellington yesterday, Auckland Museum’s centenary launch weekend, the collaborative Great War Stories videos being aired on TV3 at 6.30pm this week, and NSTP’s All That Remains website.

August 1 marked the launch of New Zealand’s new, integrated audiovisual archive, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is the operating name for the New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero. The archive was formed by the amalgamation of the collections and staff of the New Zealand Film Archive; the Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero; and the Television New Zealand Archive. New Zealand’s film, television and radio collections have been brought together within the new organisation, where they will be cared for by specialist staff and in dialogue with each other tell richer stories about our country and its peoples. Read more about the new archive here.

Today we have been stuffing envelopes with the August Museums Aotearoa Quarterly – a bumper 28-page issue with all sorts of articles around the theme of ‘people’ – visitors, communities, public programmes, exhibitions, politics and opinion.

The MA Board is meeting in Wellington this Thursday, 7 August. As well as planning for MA15 and beyond, we will be conducting a new sector survey. Coming up is a series of regional meetings during October and November – look out for these and plan to meet up with colleagues in museums and galleries near you to share ideas and inspiration.


Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

Learning to prize what is of value – by Kamaya Crawford

It has been three years since I left the NZ Police Museum and in that time I shifted to the West Coast and Nelson, worked for Local Government as the lead writer and communicator for a Long Term Plan and moved to my current role in Internal Affairs as a Community Advisor.

Internal Affairs serves and connects people, communities and government to build a safe, prosperous and respected nation and my role as a community advisor has allowed me to use all my skills and knowledge across the community to help make a difference.

I enjoyed hearing Dr Ganesh Nana at the Museums Aotearoa Conference this year talk about the importance of language. In my working travels I have collected the languages of museums, Police, Public Service, Local Government, community development, accountability, communications, funding, auditing, community engagement, social services and policy. Often people talk past each other speaking their own language.

Agreement about what you mean is vitally important to expressing the value of your organisations and what you are contributing and producing for the community.KamayaDuring my time in the museum world some of you know how I struggled with the desire to describe and quantify the intangible benefits of the museum. Learning and using Police language produced satisfying results and confirmed to me the vital importance of language and alignment with your stakeholders. All of a sudden they could see the relevance of the institution and how it fitted with them. Their purpose was our purpose.

The Government programme Better Public Services is the response to producing better outcomes for New Zealanders. It is important to Government that we address complex long-term issues to deliver better results for New Zealanders. One Agency or person cannot achieve this alone. A good example of this approach is the NZ road toll. The outcome or result we want is that New Zealanders are safe on the road. The indicator is the lower road toll.

How can organisations express their contribution to wider social outcomes? It’s pretty easy – just use Results Based Accountability. RBA™ was invented by Mark Friedman. He saw all the good work in the community and was concerned nobody knew if any of that good work actually made a difference. “Trying Hard is Not Good Enough” is the name of his first book on the subject and well worth reading.

His model was picked up by Ministry of Social Development and now RBA reporting is a requirement for all MSD Contracts. In the Nelson region we are supporting MSD by becoming RBA trainers.

RBA focuses on three questions:

How much did we do?

How well did we do it?

Is anyone better off?

RBA does this by looking at two things, the performance of your organisation and its services and secondly, the contribution the organisation makes to a wider outcome that benefits a whole population.

Recently I have been working with Nelson Provincial Museum and Marlborough Museum and I’m looking forward to reporting back later in the year about how RBA and broader work on value in the cultural sector are making an impact here. There is no greater thing an organisation can do then ask itself “Why am I here?” RBA can help focus you on what’s important to your organisation and to the community. It can help you articulate your value powerfully and with authenticity.

Kamaya Crawford
Community Advisor | Community Operations
The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua

Pānui, 8 Hūrae 2014

Kia ora,

Ko tēnei te wiki o te Reo Māori. Whakanuia te reo e tātou mā/ Let’s together celebrate Te Reo Māori.

We’ve heard about lots of exciting activities and events celebrating te reo and Māori culture more broadly through waiata, kapa haka, korero and ngā whakaaturanga. Check out City Gallery Wellington’s Toi Te Reo late night of activities, and the Dunedin City Council waiata group performing at Toitū today. We’re following Te Kupu o te Wiki – the word of the week – and Te Wiki o te reo Māori on Facebook. We’re also enjoying some informal te reo lessons with Wellington colleagues – kapai! For online resources see Te Kete Ipurangi (NZ Curriculum online) and 100 Maori words every New Zealander should know, complete with sound files for pronunciation.


We loved the photos from Waipu Museum’s recent Art’n’Tartan wearable art awards – there are some on the website and a whole gallery by the photographer.

In the UK, the #museumcuts (check this on Twitter) continue to bite. According to the UK Museums Journal and a report by the Prospect union, sponsors are reducing support, councils are slashing opening hours, and yet another council is planning to sell a high-value collection object. Northampton Borough Council has been sanctioned by the UK Museums Association for putting the ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka up for sale with an estimate of £4-6m, and a Save Sekhemka Action Group sprang up. The 10 July Christies sale was challenged by the Egyptian government, but went ahead and Sekhemka fetched nearly £16m. The fallout has been intense, with donors quoted saying they will never again gift objects to the museum.

Back home, we’re all gearing up for the centenary of the start of WW1, which NZ joined on 5 August 1914. Auckland Museum has a series of exhibitions and events, including a re-enactment of the New Zealand Governor, Lord Liverpool, reading a telegram from King George V to a crowd of 15,000 people gathered at Parliament. The telegram expressed the King’s appreciation for the solidarity of his overseas dominions after Britain declared war on Germany – to which Lord Liverpool responded with NZ’s commitment to make any sacrifice necessary, officially entering us into the war alongside Britain.


Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

News Update 8 July, 2014

Kia Ora,

Our MA15 conference planning team in Dunedin are putting together an exciting programme on the theme of Communicating Culture. On a visit to Dunedin last week Phillipa visited hosts Otago Museum, and met with the folk from the other museums and galleries who are contributing to the programme. Look out for more information, a call for proposals, events at Toitū and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, visits and tours – complete with powhiri, bagpipes and southern hospitality. We have penciled in 6-8 May 2015, although this may change depending on the availability of our keynote speaker(s).


Congratulations to Olveston for topping the NZ list of Landmarks in the 2014 Traveller’s Choice Awards. Awarded on the basis of visitor reviews on the Tripadvisor website, with a 97% satisfaction level (the highest in the country), Olveston has been ranked #1 in the top 10 list. Olveston is also ranked #5 in the Top 25 list of South Pacific Landmarks, the only NZ entity included in the list (tipped by Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge). The very favourable media coverage of the award in print, online, tv and radio, has resulted in great exposure for the house. For the complete lists, visit or read Dunedin landmark beats out Sky Tower.

Looking at the last two weeks media reports, we wish we could have gone to all the wonderful and imaginative Matariki events around the country. Now there’s a new raft or offerings for the school holidays – we hope they’re well-attended and appreciated. We’re also seeing a growing number of WW1 events and exhibitions as the centenary gets closer. Many museums are researching local WW1 stories, and the National Army Museum has enlisted Sir Peter Jackson’s expertise to plan its Western Front battlefield experience. We recommend the resources on the official MCH WW100 website, where its easy to list your museum and gallery projects and events.

Local politics continues to have a direct effect on museums and galleries. In Whangarei, the council has decided to can the controversial Hundertwasser Art Centre project despite the funding threshhold being met, and in Oamaru, the council is to investigate merging the Forrester Gallery and North Otago Museum on the Forrester site. MTG Hawke’s Bay is still in the news over budget and visitation. We’re currently doing some research on museum and gallery governance, to see if there are structures and patterns which we can analyse and learn from so that museums can be better positioned to survive and thrive in their own local contexts. This research will feed into our next sector survey later this year.

And if you’re in Wellington we can personally recommend the City Gallery’s current exhibition Seung Yul Oh: MOAMOA, A Decade. As well as interactive inflatable objects and large fibreglass birds that rock and chime (Oddooki, commissioned by Te Papa 2008), there’s The Ability to Blow Themselves Up. Check out the City Gallery staff practising in this online video.

Ngā mihi,
Phillipa and Talei


Designing mystery: a case study of exhibition specific graphic design – by Serena Siegenthaler-Brown

In May, MTG Hawke’s Bay opened an exhibition that explored the story of the Forerunners, an alternative spiritualist group who were active in Havelock North in the early twentieth century. The community’s head, Dr Robert Felkin, was a medical doctor, missionary and “influential leader in one of the world’s most important occult orders.” ( This exciting exhibition lent itself to a creative suite of graphic design output that drew on the mystery and intrigue of the characters and content.

The first mission was to create an exhibition identity consisting of a colour scheme, logo and set fonts. Contained within the content of the exhibition was the perfect source of inspiration: a seven-sided vault, contained within a temple underneath Dr Felkins Havelock North home, Whare Ra. The vault was painted with a brilliant array of colours, shapes and symbols.



I worked with the MTG Exhibition Designer to select a bold colour palette from these walls, one that would work well with the paint colour selected for the exhibition space.

The logo was created using these colours, the seven-sided star and triangle pattern found on the roof of the vault, as well as a font that echoed one found on the spine of a book originally owned by Dr Felkin. The logo also included a digitised version of three handwritten words found in an original copy of the Forerunners journal.


The challenge was to create an identity that could create a sense of intrigue and mystery in advertising in order to generate interest in the exhibition, while still being applicable to more utilitarian uses such as exhibition labels and information panels.  Typography was used as the link between the bolder marketing graphics and the labeling and panels within the exhibition itself.


To give a sense of continuity throughout the exhibition all the titles were treated in the same manner, as a graphic rather than simply text. This approach tied together the range of different graphic elements, from large scale illustrations and thematic panels printed directly onto MDF wall panels, to extended object labels mounted in cases.

The exhibition was broken down into four sections and each had a unique colour scheme to help clearly differentiate it from the next. This colour scheme was carried across different mediums from large MDF panels to vinyl and transluscent labeling. The use of consistent fonts and stylised titles held these sections together.


This project had a broad scope for bold creativity and vibrant colour schemes in response to the content and was great fun to work on (and hopefully also to view).

Serena Siegenthaler-Brown
Graphic Design Assistant, MTG Hawke’s Bay.
Photographs by David Frost


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