Today’s account of the conference is by Casimar Larkin from Parliamentary Service, where current work includes the displays and collections within the parliamentary precincts and keeping these relevant in our changing times.
Passion, collaboration and community
The MA12 Conference was the second of Museum Aotearoa’s conferences I’ve attended. Again, I found the opportunity provided for networking was invaluable. Of the three days of this conference, it was the third that I found the most thought-provoking. Umberto Crenca was an inspired choice to start the final day, imbuing enthusiasm and passion into all he spoke about. His dedication to improving communities through access to art for all was an ethos that spoke to me and I agree with. I felt this philosophy was echoed with his statement that art is not a mirror to the world, but a hammer to shape it.
The panel discussion following this, being comprised of the ‘Art Crowd’, really articulated the theme of the conference with their diverse examples of collaborations. These ranged from the expected, other galleries and museums, to the unexpected, a licensing trust made up of rugby playing men who now feel a sense of ownership towards an art gallery. It emphasised to me that to really succeed in collaboration, it is important to not just look at the obvious choices, but to reach out across the community.
However, it was the final panel of speakers from Christchurch who were the most inspirational. Their devotion to their institutions, as well as to their city, was stirring. I admire their resolve to ensure that everyone outside of Canterbury has opportunities to learn from their misfortunes to improve and be better prepared in the event of disasters. The best example of making the best of a bad situation shone through for me in the creativity of Coralie Winn and her work with Gap Filler. Her work taking art and culture to the community to fill up the desolate spaces left by demolished buildings is amazing. As is her hope that this creativity and imagination will become a way of life and carry through the rebuilding of Christchurch and beyond.