Before I started working in museums, I had a vague idea that a day in the life of a museum worker might involve quietly perusing a shelf of objects, selecting some to put in a display case, then perhaps a bit of dusting. All this would be done whilst wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches, naturally.
Obviously, as I learned quickly, there is much more to it than that. And we certainly don’t emerge from a museum studies course knowing everything there is to know about caring for a collection, interpreting content, managing museum finances, or running a brilliant public programme. So when you’re curating a new exhibition, or have a water damaged diary to deal with for the first time, how do you find out what to do? For emerging (and sometimes for well-established) museum professionals it can be hard to know where to go for advice.
Get advice on caring for collections and taonga. Photo: Te Papa
Working for National Services Te Paerangi, I’m lucky enough to have a fairly good handle on this. So I thought it might be helpful if I wrote something about where museum professionals can find help and advice – a summary of outreach and support agencies for the GLAM sector.
Museums Aotearoa, as you’ll already know, is the professional membership body for the museum sector. Museums Aotearoa provides advocacy and a representative voice for the sector. They host discussion forums on their website, conduct sector research, provide an up-to-date museums directory, and are the place to go if you want to find (or advertise) a job in a New Zealand museum. They also deliver networking events and the museum sector’s annual conference (the next one is in Dunedin in May 2015).
Contact Museums Aotearoa on email@example.com
National Services Te Paerangi
National Services Te Paerangi works throughout New Zealand in partnership with museums, galleries and iwi, offering a range of practical and strategic programmes aimed at strengthening and building capacity in the sector. NSTP provides museum-related training, small funding grants, online and hardcopy resources, and advice. Regionally-based Museum and Iwi Development Officers can provide on-site, face to face support for your organisation. NSTP is particularly good at making connections between people with a need, and experts who can help.
Contact National Services Te Paerangi on firstname.lastname@example.org or freephone 0508 NSTP HELP
NSTP and NPO paper conservation workshop. Photo: Te Papa.
Archives New Zealand
Archives New Zealand provides training and guidance around working with archives and managing records and information. They can assist with queries around subjects like digitising records, retention and disposal of archives, community archives, and working with the Public Records Act 2005. Later this year they will be launching a new website – Records Toolkit – which will be packed with resources to help with archives and record management. Keep an eye out for it!
Contact Archives New Zealand on email@example.com
National Library of New Zealand
The Alexander Turnbull Library Outreach Services team includes the National Preservation Office. The NPO can help iwi, organisations and individuals with advice on caring for books, archives, photographs, sound recordings and art works. They have a variety of excellent resources online, and can be contacted for advice and assistance. They also hold training workshops on preservation and conservation. Also part of Outreach Services are two oral history advisers who run workshops and provide advice on capturing oral histories.
The National Library is also the home of DigitalNZ. DigitalNZ offers a series of useful online guides to anyone seeking advice on digitising material.
Contact the National Library on firstname.lastname@example.org, the National Preservation Office on email@example.com, and DigitalNZ on firstname.lastname@example.org
NSTP digital photography for iwi workshop. Photo: Te Papa
It is also possible to get support and advice by joining a network of people doing a similar job to you. Here is non-exhaustive list of some of the established museum sector groups you could consider joining:
Finally, connecting with other local museums is a great way to find support. Time to arrange that coffee date with the friendly person at the museum in the next suburb or town!
Tamara Patten, Communications Officer, National Services Te Paerangi