News Update 26 Jan 2011

Welcome to 2011! We hope you’ve all had a happy time with friends and family over the festive season. Latest museum news is online here (you need to be logged in to the members’ area to view).

Over the break, the NZ print media seem to have been having a bit of a holiday too, with lots of listings and information about happenings and summer attractions, but not much hard news about museums during the ‘silly season’. However, it is good to see that the former Te Awamutu Museum director convicted of stealing medals from the museum has now been named, and sentenced to nine months detention, 350 hours community service and ordered to pay reparation of $19,138. While the damage to reputations – which extends to the whole museum sector in such cases – still lingers, at least the message has been reinforced that thieves get caught and held accountable. And it also reinforces our need, as volunteers and professionals, to heed our own Code of Ethics. There will be a discussion paper to be circulated prior, and more opportunity to engage with these issues at the MA11 confernce in April.

In the wintery northern hemisphere, museum news continues throughout the holiday season. The big freeze has not only brought snow, but more cuts and budget challenges in the UK, Europe and the USA. You can read another chapter in the continuing debate about the sale of collection items to raise funds in this article from the New York Times.

Over the last fortnight, major news stories seem to have been crime and natural disasters. Luckily the crime hasn’t been in museums, and while we hope that the recent flooding in the north island hasn’t affected members, it seems minor in comparison to the devastating floods in Australia. We send our aroha and special thoughts to friends and colleagues as they begin the long task of cleaning up.

Recovery is still going on in Canterbury since the September 2010 earthquake. I was in Christchurch last week, where a small working group is scoping development of a museum accreditation scheme as mooted at the 2010 AGM. There will be more work on this over the next couple of months to bring an options paper to the 2011 AGM. While in Canterbury, I experienced first-hand the continuing aftershocks, being woken up both nights I was there. I must say that Cantabrians seem to be a very resourceful bunch as they get on with their work and their lives despite the persistent tremors. And I noticed that the earthquake display at Canterbury Museum was very well-attended!

And following its star turn as civil defence centre last September, Christchurch Art Gallery has been scooping the audiences with its Ron Mueck show. With queues out the door and opening until midnight on the final Saturday, they finished the 4-month run with 135,140 visitors, including nearly 10,000 over the last weekend. It has been touted as the most popular paid-entry exhibition in NZ by a living artist. Who says blockbusters are passé?

Please see our website to find out about the important activities coming up for Museums Aotearoa:

  • MA11 conference registration – earlybird registration open until 25 February
  • 2011 NZ Museum Awards applications – due on 24 February
  • Attingham Summer School 2011 – expressions of interest due on 1 February
  • National Visitor Research project – throughout January-February

We are also offering a joint MA-ICOM membership this year. Details are on our new membership brochure/application form, which can be downloaded from our website here, or contact the office if you would like us to send you some hard copies.

Many museums and galleries are launching new shows over the next few weeks, and we wish you all the best with them. In the MA office we are busy with membership and getting details sorted for the MA11 conference, as well as this year’s Awards. Don’t forget to register/enter, more details about both are on our website.

Nga mihi,

Phillipa & Sophie

 

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