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.

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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.

Mauriora,

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).

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Congratulations to Olveston for topping the NZ list of Landmarks in the 2014 tripadvisor.com 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 http://www.tripadvisor.co.nz 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.” (www.mtghawkesbay.com) 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

News Update, 24 June 2014

Kia ora

Congratulations to the Air Force Museum and Rotorua Museum. The Air Force Museum’s new wing was one of 64 finalists in 10 categories at the 2014 Property Industry Awards. They earned an award of excellence and won best in category for tourism and leisure property. The judging process involved inspections and assessments that considered all aspects of each project from the design and construction phase, the innovation and vision evident through to the financial performance, user satisfaction and environmental impact and seismic rating of the completed development – a deserved recognition for both the museum and architects Warren and Mahoney.

Rotorua Minecraft

MINECRAFT MASTERMIND: Alex Pace (right) with his Minecraft creation of the Rotorua Museum. He is pictured with brother Nathan. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Rotorua Museum has added to its success in the NZ Museum Awards with another four awards in the past year: Best Direct Marketing Campaign with The Edge in the national radio awards for last year’s same-sex wedding promotion; Hospitality Excellence Award in the Rotorua Business Excellence Awards; a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award; and their 80-strong team of volunteer guides were runners-up in the 2013 Trustpower Spirit of Rotorua Community Award. They have also been in the news for a minecraft replica.

The news lately has had a lot about museums. As well as the good news – such as capital grants totaling $4.1m to museums in Akaroa, Chatham Islands and Waitangi – there has been criticism of Te Papa and MTG Hawke’s Bay. In the case of MTG, it stems from a report commissioned by the Napier City Council, which was to investigate “the level of present revenue and expenditure performance” and “unexpected results from the redevelopment, especially insufficient storage…” The Independent Review attempts to benchmark MTG’s performance, and propose ‘rescue remedies’, Being commissioned by council, it does not address the expectation gap between the previous council’s plans of 3+ years ago, and the new council’s current agenda. However, the council is ‘looking forward to a positive future for MTG Hawke’s Bay’, so as long as they don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and the media don’t do too much damage to their public reputation, we’re hopeful that will be the case.

One of the consultants who had worked on the McDermott Miller review of MTG Hawke’s Bay was Michael Volkerling. Known to many in the museum and gallery world in his past roles at the Arts Council, the Museum of New Zealand project, as well as his academic and cultural policy work, Michael had attended our MA14 conference in Napier. Sadly, Michael passed away unexpectedly earlier this month at his home in Sydney. A service was held for him at Wellington’s Old St Paul’s today, where he was remembered fondly by his family, friends and colleagues.

Police Museum Director Rowan Carroll in their new armoury

Police Museum Director Rowan Carroll in their new armoury

This a quieter time of year for us here at MA, so last Friday afternoon we got out of the office for some visits. We took a quick look at the excellent exhibitions on at Pataka (we particularly enjoyed Fiona Pardington’s EREWHON: Left for Dead in The Field of Dreams) and then carried on to the Police Museum to check out their new storage. This project has carved all sorts of useful space out of a rather inflexible building and brought their facilities up to environmentally acceptable standard. On our way back in to town we also stopped in at NZ Micrographics and got a full tour of the fascinating giant scanners and cool things they do – give them a call if you’re in the area.

Andy Fenton and Sheryl Sporle-Fahey showing Phillipa Tocker and Lillian Bayly-McCredie around NZMS

Andy Fenton and Sheryl Sporle-Fahey showing Phillipa Tocker and Lillian Bayly-McCredie around NZMS

A Washington Post Blog reported last week that there are more museums in the US than there are McDonalds and Starbucks combined. We ran the stats and discovered the same is true here. In fact there are more museums (c450) in New Zealand than there are McDonalds, Starbucks, KFCs and Burger Kings combined (332) – fast culture, not fast food!

Ngā mihi,
Phillipa and Talei

 

iPads and Coconuts by Aaron Compton

I’ve been looking at trends in museum education. It’s a pretty specialised role and in New Zealand there is a very small community of us, so I like to think it’s easy for us to set our own trends. For instance I just noticed that Te Papa is doing light painting for Matariki this year.

Hell, at Tairawhiti Museum we’ve been doing that since 2011. I’m a trendsetter.

Sophie: This girl disappeared down a wormhole, leaving only her shape on the wall behind her. But really we waved lights behind this girl to get her silhouette, she stepped away and we shone a torch on the ngatu where she had been standing

Sophie: This girl disappeared down a wormhole, leaving only her shape on the wall behind her. But really we waved lights behind this girl to get her silhouette, she stepped away and we shone a torch on the ngatu where she had been standing

Light painting is an activity with a definite WOW factor for children, teachers and parents. Take a dark room, a webcam hooked up to a long-exposure app and a big screen, some pretty light sticks and torches in different colours, add a group of excitable children and you’ve got some fun times ahead. You can draw in the air and make freaky portraits and the results appear in real time on the big screen; you can then print them out or give them to the teacher as .JPGs.

This is the kind of museopunk thing I love (check out museopunks.org ). It stemmed from me wanting a hands on activity to go with the graffiti art exhibition we had, but not wanting to mess with spray paint fumes in our enclosed classroom space, or to have to explain to parents why I was teaching their children to be vandals.

Tagging: A budding graffiti artist writes his tag in the air. No paint, no fumes, no clean up.

Tagging: A budding graffiti artist writes his tag in the air. No paint, no fumes, no clean up.

There is a lot of high tech stuff I and other museum folk dream of doing. iPads, wifi through all the galleries, location awareness, all that good, expensive stuff. I don’t have a budget for iPads. What I can afford though is coconuts.

Back in 2012 when the Transit of Venus was all we could talk about here in Tairawhiti, I was thinking about navigation. I wanted those iPads but instead my mind went to what I had heard called a ‘starpeeker’– a coconut shell with holes drilled at certain places to align with stars. I wasn’t sure how it worked but the idea appealed.

So I did a mash up of this Polynesian navigation device with a European one – a map. I made 15 maps of our gallery space and on each one put 2 different coloured footprints. Each map goes with a specific, numbered, starpeeker coconut with 2 sets of holes colour coded to the footprints on the map. When a pair of students find the exact right spot in the gallery where the footprints on their map should be, they can look up through the starpeeker and find the right coloured star in the rafters. When all is aligned correctly an arrow on the starpeeker points them in the direction of a certain taonga, and they have to answer a question about that taonga. Phew.

Children at Tairawhiti Museum use a mashup of European and Polynesion navigation techniques to find their way through the gallery.

Children at Tairawhiti Museum use a mashup of European and Polynesion navigation techniques to find their way through the gallery.

It was hugely complicated to set up but worth it – children really have to think to succeed with this and teachers love it, it aligns with a lot of NZ Curriculum stars.

Wifi? No. Location awareness? YES!

High tech is trending highly but hands on activities will always be in style. The low tech backlash starts here. Go and buy some coconuts!

Aaron Compton
Education Officer, Tairawhiti Museum

 

The Business of Culture – Keynotes

We finally have the videos of the keynotes from MA14.

For those out there who missed the conference the theme was ‘The Business of Culture’ and focused on the ways museums can use the language and tools of business and entrepreneurship to ensure their survival without losing their cultural soul.

First up Kate Clark, Heritage Consultant talks about Competition, Cooperation and Community.

Next we have Laura Wright, the CEO of Tate Enterprises discussing Revenue.

Our final keynote of the conference was Ganesh Nana, Chief Economist at BERL and his talk on Proving our Value.


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