News Update 28 October, 2014

Kia ora

Last week Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand launched the last of its themed section, completing the 12-year build programme. Launching Creative and Intellectual Life, editor Jock Phillips was joined by Sam Neill and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, with performances by poet Hinemoana Baker and a troupe from the NZ School of Dance.  There was also support from our new Minister, Hon Maggie Barry. The celebration was well-deserved by all the many contributors – both MCH staff and the experts, writers and researchers who have made Te Ara such a rich and compelling resource. Congratulations also to Jock for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award he received last week. Jock will now retire to write, and the team at MCH will continue the evolution of Te Ara. The launch was covered by Radio NZ’s Morning Report.

Waikato Forum

We are just about to open a new iteration of the MA sector survey, and want every museum and gallery in the country to take part. The last survey was in 2012, and our revised questionnaire will build on that information. Claire Scouse is working with us over the next few weeks to coordinate the survey, and will be available to help respondents.

We also have Maddy Jones working with us to prepare the 2015 Directory of Museums and Galleries. Maddy and Claire are both working part-time in our three-desk office, so it is very busy at the moment!

We’ve been enjoying getting out and meeting with members and colleagues around the country. Thérèse Angelo and Phillipa were in Invercargill recently, next up is Whakatāne on Friday and Christchurch on Tuesday 4 November. These regional meetings are a great way to catch up with what’s happening in your region, and we’ve had some wonderfully inspiring presentations. The Christchurch meeting will include a short Special General Meeting, called to approve a minor change to the MA Constitution. We want to change the rule about timing of the AGM from 4 to 6 months after the end of our financial year – this gives us more flexibility with conference dates, allowing us to hold the next AGM during MA15 in May.

Taranaki Forum

Planning for MA15 is well under way. The MA Board will meet in Dunedin on 19 November, and several Board members will be at the Dunedin regional meeting on 18 November.  We’re enjoying working with an enthusiastic planning team and our generous hosts at Otago Museum.

And we note the extensive tributes to our late friend Jonathan Mane-Wheoki in various media, including this beautiful compilation by Te Papa.

Mauriora,

Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (1943-2014)

Our friend and colleague has passed away peacefully, with his whanau by his side. We send aroha and sympathy, and our deep respect for the life he lived and the gifts he shared so freely.
Dominion Post notice
Spiritual Outlook interview (Aug 2014)
Auckland Art Gallery release

 

News Update 30 September 2014

Kia ora

Its great to see some really good news stories about museums and galleries recently in amongst the war, crime and election results making headlines. MOTAT was on Saturday’s TV One news as well as the Herald as it celebrates 50 years with new exhibits and a new strategy. And it seems that everyone loves a good slimy squid story – especially on video!

Young Theo experiments with Motat’s new ‘Welcome to the Machine’ exhibition. Photo / Mark Wardle

Last Friday the winner of the biennial Walters Prize was announced at Auckland Art Gallery – international judge Charles Esche was interviewed by Lyn Freeman on Radio NZ’s Standing Room Only, along with winning artist Luke Willis Thompson. Freeman also interviewed Simon Denny, Walters Prize finalist and artist selected to represent NZ at the 2016 Venice Biennale, whose show The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom opens at the Adam Art Gallery this Friday.

The news was mixed for Museum of Wellington City and Sea, when they announced that the ‘key to the city’ of Wellington had been stolen from its display case - but the story turned out well when it was anonymously returned to Wellington Police. Also mixed exposure for Waitangi National Trust in the papers and TV3 drawing comments from PM John Key and local MP Kelvin Davis with the introduction of a $15 entry fee for New Zealanders after the fee was dropped in 2008.

On the down side, the Ashburton museum and gallery building is in the news again with its budget blowout and parking disputes between council and residents – another example of conflicting local interests getting in the way of what should be a positive community amentity.

And congratulations to Canterbury Museum, winner of the Tourism/Hospitality (medium/large enterprise) category at the 2014 Champion Canterbury Business Awards , just ahead of the Air Force Museum – Vbase partnership.

After serving for 32 years, Mike Taylor has retired from the staff and management committee of Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum.  The new Manager is Alison Hinkley, and the new President of Picton Historical Society is Jon Perano.  The Society reports they are in good heart and moving forward with new displays and looking forward to a busy cruise-ship season.TripAdvisor has named Te Papa best in the South Pacific, and Auckland Museum 2nd – ahead of all the Australian museums. Eight other New Zealand museums feature in the list, giving us 40% of the the top 25, with only 20% of Australia’s population and 15% of its GDP.

Last week saw about 40 people from a wide range of organisations meeting for ICOM NZ‘s conference at Auckland Museum, joined by a number of museum staff for many sessions. The theme of Pacific Connections: Culture, Connections, Museums and Research produced a varied and engaging 2-day programme.  The eye-opener for many was a sobering presentation about the reality of Pacific Islanders’ position in Auckland society by Damon Salesa, Associate Professor of Pacific Studies at The University of Auckland, and the first person of  Pacific Island descent to become a Rhodes scholar to Oxford. With humour and empathy, Damon explained the disengagement of Pasifika from mainstream economy, education and political power, and offered some insights into how some of these disadvantages and injustices might be addressed by museums. Thanks to hosts Auckland Museum, and the organisers, especially Jane Legget, for all the hard work that went into the conference.

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki and Roy Clare

Another highlight for those who stayed for the Museum Medals event at Auckland Museum on 23 September was the presentation of awards to some special colleagues. Linda Tyler and Margaret Morley were made Associate Emerita of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Jonathan Mane-Wheoki and Dame Cheryll Sotheran were made a Companion of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which recognises achievement or contribution to areas relevant to, or in some way connected to, the public service of Auckland Museum or other New Zealand museums. We applaud their well-deserved recognition.

Attending the ICOM conference and staying on to visit Wellington was Professor Dr Hans-Martin Hinz, President of ICOM international. His conference keynote explained the background of Germany’s colonial activity in the Pacific and its end because of WW1. Dr Hinz also gave a well-attended presentation about cultural objects at risk, hosted by NSTP at Te Papa last week.

We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at our regional meetings in the next two months, with the first at Waitomo tomorrow.  We’re also excited by the lineup of speakers for this year’s National Digital Forum conference, 25-26 November at Te Papa. You have until 5pm today (30 September) to apply for a registration bursary from MA.

If you’re in Wellington next Wednesday, 8 October, we recommend the Awesome Arts Access Auction. This is both fun and a terrific cause, we hope to see many friends and supporters there.

Mauriora,
Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei

From Auckland to New Plymouth by Elspeth Hocking

MapIn the interests of full disclosure, I was born and raised an Aucklander. I drink lattes, have developed opinions on traffic and generally have to fight off my natural tendencies towards being a bit pretentious. However, I no longer live in Auckland, a fact that is purely career based.

I decided museums were where I wanted to be in my second year of my history degree in Auckland. Being quite young and not having a house, pets or children to keep me in one place, I opted to move to Wellington to do the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies degree full time for two years. Little did I know that this would be the first of many moves as I got further and further down the rabbit hole of being a museum obsessive! During our studies, my classmates and I were repeatedly advised by our excellent lecturers that we’d need to look wider than the main centres to really develop our careers. I told lots of people that I’d be totally happy to move to ‘the regions’ for a while for my career, it’d be an adventure, without really thinking it was an actual possibility (I did mention I’m an Aucklander, right?)

image002

After two years in Wellington, with a three month stint at what was then the Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery (now MTG) in Napier thrown in for good measure, I got my first job – back in Auckland. So, very sadly, I packed up my life in Wellington, said farewell to the fabulous friends I’d made there, had a last emotional visit to my spiritual home of Moore Wilsons, and made the trek back north. After 18 months of visitor research I began to feel like it was time to get back to where I’d always wanted to be – collections. I applied for a number of curatorial and collection positions around the country, including at Puke Ariki, where I had an interview. Well, I was offered the job: Social History Curator, AKA job of dreams, just not really where I’d pictured living.

I took a deep breath and took the job. I then cried for a week. I moved to New Plymouth, leaving my partner in Auckland to continue his PhD. I cried for another week. Then I started the job and I loved it. I still love it. The most incredible thing about working for a regional museum, particularly one as fabulous as Puke Ariki, is the variety of things you get to do on a day to day basis. Recently I’ve curated a collection exhibition, been interviewed on local radio about the Social History collection, dealt with new acquisitions, and started preparing material for our World War One exhibition – and this changes week by week.

e and mountain

I’m still getting to know New Plymouth and Taranaki as a place to live. It’s very different to anywhere I’ve lived before, and I love being so close to the mountain and getting out and about along the coastline. However it is noticeably small and isolated compared to what I’m used to. I miss my partner, family and friends further north immensely, and there are no good Chinese restaurants nearby which I would love to see change! However the work experience I’m getting at Puke Ariki is invaluable. The point I’m trying to make is that my lecturers were right, of course –upping sticks and moving towns for a job in a regional museum is a tough decision, especially if you’re a bit of a city girl like me. But despite the challenges and the exorbitant amount of money I’ve spent on airfares, I’m so pleased I chose to get out of my comfort zone, and so grateful Puke Ariki took a chance on me. The opportunities I’ve had here to develop an enormous range of skills and try a bit of everything museum-related have been astonishing. I’d highly recommend giving smaller-town New Zealand museums a chance if you’re ready for a change of pace and a chance to do a bit of everything!

Elspeth Hocking
Curator Social History, Puke Ariki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


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