News Update

Kia ora,

Check out the latest batch of museum news that has been uploaded today, online here (you need to be logged in to the members’ area to view).

In the last fortnight the media – and the general public – have continued to examine the pros, cons and implications of Te Papa’s conditional invitation to regional museum staff to a collection store tour. After the initial ill-informed knee-jerk responses, it was good to see some more considered and thoughtful pieces appearing in the news. Clearly there are serious issues for any cultural institution to consider, including the rights of donors and original makers, public access, culturally specific expectations, minority viewpoints and changing social attitudes. These are questions which every museum and gallery needs to address from its own perspective, and even though there may be no ‘right’ answers, it is useful to examine and debate them from time to time.

Linking data, linking people was the theme for the very successful and inspiring National Digital Forum conference held at Te Papa last week. It was great to see so many museum and gallery colleagues from around the country there, with lots of opportunities for catching up as well as some really terrific presentations. The general atmosphere was upbeat – I heard less of ‘we’d love to do all this if we had funding/permission/time/skills’, and more of ‘we could give that a go’. There was also a reassuring acknowledgement that digital is not different or extra, but intrinsic to all that we do – working methods, personal communication, means of information gathering – as well as being part of the business of museums, galleries, libraries and archives. As Nick Poole tweeted, “we have to stop regarding technology as the achievement”.

We’ll let you know when conference presentations are up online. Meanwhile you can see the official conference Twitter feed from @ndf2010 here, and if you’re really keen there is an archived version of all the #ndf2010 Twitter activity. It was also a milestone for the NDF to be registered as an Incorporated Society on 18 October – opening the way for more independent activity as a legal entity. The new Board will be meeting soon to begin planning various initiatives including next year’s 10th NDF conference.

A couple of weeks earlier Museums Australia held their conference Interesting times in Melbourne. I’ve spoken to several people who were able to attend, and by all accounts it too had lots of good ideas and opportunities. Australian Regan Forrest has written several blog posts here. This year’s Museums Australia Multimedia & Publication Design Awards (MAPDA) awards were announced during the conference in Melbourne. Once again NZ galleries were prominent – congratulations to category winners Christchurch Art Gallery (‘The Vault’ exhibition catalogue) and Dunedin Public Art Gallery (‘Beloved’ book and invitation, also highly commended for ‘Log’ magazine).

And while in Australian mode, check out the recently revamped website of the National Museum of Australia here, a rich source for all kinds of content.

Back in the office, we’ll be sending out a notice about our own MA11 conference soon. We have 3 international keynote speakers to announce, taking various views on the collections theme. Make sure you plan to be in Nelson 13-15 April 2011, and watch this space!

Ka kite,

Phillipa and Sophie

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