News Update 16 September, 2014

Kia ora

Do you read blogs?  They have been getting a bad rap from the ‘Dirty Politics’ and Whale Oil scandals of the last few weeks, and it’s true that some blogs are places for opinionated individuals to vent their ideas. Others are more balanced, and often very informative. Many museums and galleries have their own blogs in which staff can share insights into their collections and research which may otherwise not get into the public domain – a great way to extend reach and engagement.

The Museums Aotearoa blog has a wide range of voices from our membership. Last week Chanelle Carrick of Puke Ariki shared her experience of working with local artists. Other recent posts explored digital culture (Sarah Powell) and measuring our value (Kamaya Crawford). If you aren’t seeing these, it’s easy to get email notifications by clicking Follow on the blog page.

PLAYnes, a participatory installation by Home Work artist Olivier Perkins with Meg the Puke Ariki Megaladon (author’s image)

It is worth while checking out other local blogs too. A recent post for Artists Alliance is by Melissa Laing. In Negotiating Consent, Laing explores the implications of working with the public, either for research or for creating artwork, and there is much in her kōrero that is relevant to curating and exhibiting as well.

International museums opinions and news can be found everywhere. Thanks to Global Museum, we found this Huffington Post article by Paul Cantor, Why Museums Are Very Cool and Should Be Visited Often. Cantor acknowledges the easy access to museum collections and information via the internet, and explains why people can gain even more valuable experiences when they use that as a starting point for an in-person visit. He also explores the effect of the digital world on photography, drawing some interesting insights from an exhibition at the Met of Garry Winogrand’s photographs of American life from the 1950s to 1980s. He also notes that the Winogrand exhibition was not the trigger for his visit – “the beauty of going to a museum with no real plan is that you can wind up seeing things unexpectedly”.

Phar Lap, taxidermied in the USA after his untimely – and possibly accidental poisoning – death, is a popular display at the Melbourne Museum. The people of Melbourne acknowledge his NZ birth and embrace him as one of the greatest Australian racehorses, with school groups and tourist flocking to admire the legend on a Monday afternoon. (Phillipa is in Melbourne meeting with Museums Australia, courtesy of Tourism NZ.)

Another online item that was referred to us recently (thanks Andrew Clifford!) is a report on online magazine Ocula. While not strictly a blog, this is another online opinion source to which anyone can freely subscribe. In China Museum Tour: the Highlights, Sophia McKinnon, offers an overview of visiting 20 Chinese museums in 20 days. Kiwi-born, Beijing-based Sophia describes a museum sector very different from our own – in which architecture = prestige, ‘contemporary art’ has quite a different meaning, and both public and private museums require state approval to exist.
It makes you think!

Mauriora,

Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

Doing your Homework by Chanelle Carrick

Maintaining relationships with local artists is a key part of the Pictorial Collection Curator’s role. How would you go about fostering those important connections?

This was not the worst interview question I’ve been asked. In fact, as an emerging museum professional (EMP) the answer seemed simple at the time. But fast-forward six weeks to a new job at Puke Ariki and a new city where I knew nothing about the local art scene and I was suddenly hit with the size of that task.

Home Work Opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

Home Work Opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

My situation also involved another kind of EMP: the established museum professional. My predecessor still works at Puke Ariki, now as a manager. During her lengthy stint as curator she worked tirelessly to establish and nurture relationships not only with local artists but also between the artists themselves. She initiated regular ‘artist meet-ups’ and maintains a database of artists with whom she is in regular contact. Her passion for the cause is inspirational, and she has built an impressive audience for Puke Ariki. As she has really put in the hard yards those crucial networks were already in place when I arrived. But as the new curator I faced a particular challenge. How do I maintain those connections? How do I form new ones? And how do I become the ‘go-to’ person in place of the previous curator when she’s still around?

Image courtesy of Puke Ariki

Image courtesy of Puke Ariki

The answers to these questions came in the form of an exhibition called Home Work: Taranaki Art Now. Developed in response to the artistic community’s desire to share their work with the region, the show aimed to strengthen relationships with that community. I inherited my role as co-curator (along with former colleague Charlotte Stace and local artists Dale Copeland and Wayne Morris) from my predecessor, and began work on it almost from day one. We put the call out to all Taranaki artists to submit up to three pieces for consideration. The response was phenomenal: we received over 460 submissions from just over 200 artists! Over several days the curators chose 95 works that represented the breadth of creative practices in what was clearly a highly active art scene.

PLAYnes, a  participatory installation by Home Work artist Olivier Perkins with Meg the Puke Ariki Megaladon (author's image)

PLAYnes, a participatory installation by Home Work artist Olivier Perkins with Meg the Puke Ariki Megaladon (author’s image)

I then worked with other staff and artists to write labels, co-ordinate events, develop PLAYnes (an interactive artwork involving paper planes!) and a street art mural within the museum, and promote the show. It was an exciting opportunity to talk with artists en masse and to get myself known in the community. The exhibition also coincided with the inaugural Taranaki Arts Trail, which gave me the chance to visit artists in their studios and to talk with them about their practice. The whole experience was invaluable in helping develop my own connections and in reinforcing relationships with Puke Ariki. After all, artists are essential to the vitality of our communities, and for museums and galleries it’s crucial to maintain productive links with the people who could be your strongest supporters or your loudest critics.

Home Work opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

Home Work opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

So, what if you don’t have a regional art exhibition to curate? The simple answer is get out there. Do your homework! Find out who your predecessor’s key contacts were and meet them for coffee. Visit open studios. Attend exhibition openings and talk to people instead of loitering around the nibbles. It can be difficult, especially if you’re an introvert like me. But the effort you put into those relationships will be rewarded with support for your institution, unexpected opportunities, and if your region is anything like Taranaki, the chance to meet some incredibly warm and generous people.

Chanelle Carrick,
Poutiaki Kohinga Whakaahua | Curator Pictorial Collections, Puke Ariki

 

Home Work: Taranaki Art Now was supported by the TSB Community Trust and New Plymouth District Creative Communities NZ

News Update 2 September, 2014

Kia ora

As well as electioneering and dirty politics, there has been some interesting news coverage about the power of art and culture – to enrich, to heal and to celebrate. Auckland Museum played a symbolic role in the Tuhoe Treaty of Waitangi settlement, with the return of the Maungapōhatu flag taking centre stage at the recent ceremony in Taneatua. Christchurch Art Gallery once again gained the spotlight with its activity in the wider community through public art.  In Dunedin, DPAG hosted the launch of a creative strategy for the city, Ara Toi Otepoti: Our Creative Future.

Auckland Museum Director Roy Clare is in the online news with an article for Museum iD exploring the implications of digital engagement and audience expectations. MA also made the news, along with museum colleagues, in a Listener article looking into the issues behind the recent controversy over MTG Hawke’s Bay.

The MA Board has finalised our new Strategic Plan that we work-shopped last month. There are now agreed strategies and actions under the revised mission statement. You can read more on our website.

On the national scene, some things change, and others stay the same. Creative NZ has released the report of its recent review of Visual and Craft/Object art, which confirms some existing arrangements and offers some increased grant limits but no radical change. Heritage New Zealand, formerly NZ Historic Places Trust, has released its new Statement of Intent 2014-2018 and Performance Expectations 2014-2015 with its new look, which looks much like business as usual within tight budget constraints.

Coming events you might want to be part of include Ask a curator day on 17 September, and this is Tongan language week.

And one more opportunity – MA is supporting the National Digital Forum 2014 by offering a registration bursary. Applications are due 30 September, for details see Opportunities below.

Mauriora,

Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

Support services for the GLAM sector by Tamara Patten

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

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

MA_logo_med

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 mail@museumsaotearoa.org.nz

 

National Services Te Paerangi

NSTP-Logo

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 natserv@tepapa.govt.nz or freephone 0508 NSTP HELP

 

NSTP and NPO paper conservation workshop

NSTP and NPO paper conservation workshop. Photo: Te Papa.


Archives New Zealand

Archives NZ logoArchives 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 rkadvice@dia.govt.nz

 

National Library of New Zealand

Alexander Turnbull Library Master Logo   Two Colour_47919The 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 information@natlib.govt.nz, the National Preservation Office on preservation@dia.govt.nz, and DigitalNZ on info@digitalnz.org

NSTP digital photography for iwi workshop

NSTP digital photography for iwi workshop. Photo: Te Papa


Job-specific groups

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

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.

Mauriora,

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDyBCmPomFQ

[1] Tanner, S. (2012) Measuring the Impact of Digital Resources: The Balanced Value Impact Model. King’s College London,  October 2012. Available at: http://www.kdcs.kcl.ac.uk/innovation/impact.html%5B1%5D

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.

Mauriora,

Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei


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