Archive for May, 2012

News Update 29 May

Kia ora,

MA Board Tuesday 22nd May
The MA Board met on 22 May in Wellington. Some great progress was made on the revised Code of Ethics which will be ready for next year’s AGM. Thank you for all your feedback in our MA12 conference survey. Umberto Crenca’s talk in particular has shone through as highlight for most people. Next year’s conference location has been confirmed as Rotorua and we are pondering what will be an inspiring theme. Our next board meeting will be held in August. Please contact the office or a Board member to have your say in any MA matters.

Minister’s Speach to MA Director’s Dinner
In his speech before the Directors’ dinner at the MA12 conference the Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, Hon Chris Findlayson discussed the government’s thinking with creation of the new Heritage Forum and its role in the future of the sector. He also talked about collaboration as a way through the challenges faced in Christchurch. He concluded with some of his highlights for year including the Auckland Art Gallery’s re-opening, the appointment of a mentoring adviser in the Arts Council, the development of a government commemorations policy, and plans for the upcomming First World War Centenary.

International Museum Day
Museums around the country held some fun events for International Museum Day. Check out these great entries in the my favourite thing photo competion at Museum of Wellington City and Sea.

Arts Access Aotearoa
Arts Access Aotearoa has begun holding workshops around the country to encourage awareness and share practical ideas about making the arts – including museums – accessible to all. Their recent workshop at Dunedin Public Art Gallery was a great day for networking as well as learning. The Arts Access Aotearoa website has a range of resources and Pippa Sanderson is happy to answer questions.

Finally, a reminder that Volunteer Awareness Week is 17-23 June, with a theme of ‘building communidties through volunteering’.

Phillipa is away on leave this week and next, but I am in the office and happy to help. 

Nga mihi,


Reflections on MA12 – Casimar Larkin

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.

‘Art is not a mirror to the world but a hammer to shape it.’ – Umberto Crenca

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.

MA12 audience

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.

Casimar Larkin
Parliamentary Service

Special update: more awards for Auckland Art Gallery

Congratulations to Auckland Art Gallery for winning the 2012 NZ Architecture Medal.  On top of its win in the NZ Museum Awards in April, the gallery’s architects FJMT and Archimedia took away the top honour in last Friday’s Resene NZ Institute of Architects Awards.  As well as the new development, Auckland Art Gallery won a heritage architecture award for Salmon Read Architects’ work on the old library building.

Congratulations also to MOTAT and Studio Pacific Architecture for their award in the environmental category for the aviation display hall. Its great to see galleries and museums getting recognition for their contribution to the built environment as well as the cultural and social.

See for some quotes on the night.

Reflections on MA 12 – An Australian Perspective, Elizabeth Marsden

Today we have an outside perspective on MA12 by Elizabeth Marsden from Museums Australia.

An Australian perspective.

The conference for me brought out many similarities between the current Australian and New Zealand museum perspectives. The New Zealand convergence experience is an area which many Australian organisations have been watching with a keen interest over the years and is a trend which now occurs more regularly in Australia, especially in regional centres, and we share many of the same issues raised through such amalgamations. In particular I found Hammi Piripi’s presentation on the Te Ahu development an excellent case study and especially appreciated his comment of community ‘partnership rather than consultation’ being the key to success. Remaining relevant was an underlying theme which continued to pop-up. Indeed there appears to be a shared trans-national pattern here, with those museums closely aligned with their local population and government often being the most successful in terms of both relevance and financial stability.

Elizabeth Marsden and Phillipa Tocker

During the panel discussion, Wira Gardiner touched on a future challenge for New Zealand museums – to go beyond biculturalism towards greater multicultural representation. I found this comment particularly interesting as in Australia I feel we are arguably struggling with the reverse: being a multicultural country now seeking a more balanced and authentic representation of our Aboriginal Australians. While massive steps have been made with regards to this in Australia in the past three decades, I do feel our different approach to national identity has possibly slowed indigenous representation in Australian museums and we are now playing catch-up. Possibly the same is true with presenting a multicultural New Zealand?

I left the conference asking myself why there isn’t greater collaboration and conversation between Australian and New Zealand museums. Given we are such close neighbours with an interconnected history I feel there is a lot to be gained through greater involvement with each other’s national museum forums. Each of us excels in our own particular areas, and these represent ideas, experiences and methodologies from which we both could learn, but only if they are brought to the same table.

Elizabeth Marsden
Manager, Museum Accreditation Program, Museums Australia (Victoria)

Reflections on MA 12 – Peter Read

Over the next few days we will be posting some reflections from people about their experiences at MA12, today we have Peter Read from the Otago Settlers Museum.

MA12: Collaboration in Practice

At the end of Day 2 Phillipa asked me what I had enjoyed most about MA12: Collaboration in Practice so far. ‘All of it’, I replied, from my usual perch on top of the fence. 

I was glad to have travelled up to Wellington the day before the conference to catch Jock Phillips setting the scene with some insightful opinion delivered in the inaugural Museums Aotearoa Public Lecture.

The following morning, as the number of delegates assembling in the level 2 foyer at Te Papa grew to critical mass before heading up to Te Marae for a powhiri, the first impression gained was how hot it was. Perhaps it was a combination of all the hot air being expelled by chin-wagging delegates and the balmy Wellington weather. It was a sign of things to come. There would be much more talking and continued good weather (other than a bit of a soaking on the way to the Mayoral reception preceding the awards dinner).

Mayoral reception

From the spirited debate of the Willie Jackson-chaired Taonga to Taonga session to the tales of collaborative projects both inside and outside the museum sector, Day 1 was a consistently stimulating affair that provided much food for thought.

Former CEO of Science North in Sudbury,Ontario,Canada – Jim Marchbank, keynote speaker for Day 2, delivered international flavour and prompted a yearning to hit the road and visit the institution he led for 24 years. Later that day we did hit the road. Unfortunately Canada was out of the question, so I settled for Porirua, where I could take in some institutions closer to home that I had also heard good things about and had long-hankered to see.

Jim Marchbank, Science North

It was true, by the end of Day 2, I had enjoyed it all in equal measure. Then along came Umberto Crenca, keynote speaker for Day 3, with his story of the revitalisation of central Providence into an arts and entertainment district. Bert’s story, ramped up in passionate style, blew us all away. The session on the lessons in collaboration learned from the Christchurch earthquakes was similarly inspiring.

As with all conferences some of the most valuable things afforded by MA12 were the opportunities to catch up with people, take a break from our own institutional timetable, and gain a view of what is going on in the wider museum world. For me MA12 also achieved what it set out to do, providing some valuable examples of, and showing some of the lessons learned from, collaboration in practice.

Peter Read
Otago Settlers Museum

Reflections on MA12 – Andrea Hemmins

Over the next few days we will be posting some reflections from people about their experiences at MA12, starting today with Andrea Hemmins from The Kauri Museum.

Collaboration For Success while Maintaining Integrity

The Museums Aotearoa 2012 conference theme of collaboration was very timely and encouraging. With challenging times for Museums and Galleries now and ahead, keynote speakers were positive, realistic and some truly inspiring. The sharing and exchange of ideas and experiences was enhanced by being in Wellington, and at Te Papa, the heart of New Zealand’s culture and heritage. There was a mutual awareness of the current financial challenges and how adaptions can be made to overcome pressures facing most GLAM sector institutions.

The view from Te Papa

This was highlighted and reinforced by the Stick it to the Man campaign. A bold and honest move by Te Papa to urge the public to have their say about Te Papa today and Te Papa tomorrow. A simple but very effective campaign where a life-sized cut out of Director Michael Houlihan invites visitors to stick a ‘post it’ with their opinion on various walls throughout the galleries. The day before the conference a few ‘post its’ graced the walls, by Friday layers of colourful opinions and ideas sprung fourth and became part of the Te Papa experience. A clever method of empowering New Zealanders with a voice about their/our Te Papa; and most importantly creating a feeling of coming together for the greater good. Also an example of how the visitor can participate as collaborator. This all done at a time when media announcements were being made about budget cuts and limitations.

The reality is, no matter what industry you’re in, today there are now limitations we may not have experienced yesterday. Knowing that we’re in it together and can find ways to utilise each others resources and skills is a useful way to uphold staff morale, visitor experience and overall understanding. Being creative about overcoming restrictions and celebrating team achievement empowers everyone to a higher level.

Speaking of teamwork and celebration, Jock Philips kicked off the conference with an overview of his travels during the New Zealand Festival and Rugby World Cup to discover What is Real NZ? He frequented a multitude of small and large museums and outdoor celebrations from Invercargill to Auckland, drawing up a variety of conclusions in a blog along the way. He commented that the most successful places provided an ‘urgent relevance to the world around’ and that successful celebrations were where communities centred the activity, naturally bringing people together in a hive of activity and enthusiasm; whereas towns that sent visitors in different directions to the outskirts tended to dilute the atmosphere.

Jim Marchbank, previous CEO of Science North in Ontario Canada, provided very good practical advice for museums and galleries seeking collaboration with outside commercial and non-commercial partners. He spoke of collaboration for survival, and the need to remain true to mission statements and brand identities while fulfilling the mutual benefits for all parties involved. ‘Use your strengths and pursue win-win’ he stated. Though he was also quick to point out the importance of flexibility within your own organisation to cater to the requirements of an external party so as not to halt progress. He raised how expectations on both sides of a collaboration should be made clear in the beginning and that major decisions be shared so empowerment is equal and encouraged. A sense of pride on both sides is an indicator of success.

Umberto Crenca’s presentation was truly charismatic and inspirational. His presentation The Art of Community, about the complete turnaround of the city centre of Providence, Rhode Island, through the use of art, foresight, and pure determination, gave us all a reminder of why we love what we do. Whether museum, library or gallery based, GLAM professionals generally have a heightened social conscience, his work setting up the AS220 organisation to revive the city centre and install a sense of place through community participation for social improvement was commendable. This was recognized by the resulting applause. Each of us facing challenges of our own could relate to his vigor and drive to strive on for social awareness, education and facilitating overall greater good for communities.  

Umberto Crenca

The final segment was dedicated to Christchurch, with the museums and art galleries discussing how they came through the earthquakes, and how their futures look. A discussion involving emergency policies and procedures was very informative. On the panel, Coralie Winns Gap Filler project aiming to raise the morale of Christchurch residents through community projects in empty spaces around the city was greatly inspiring.

In summary, the conference relayed the importance of new and long term close working relationships for mutual gain; togetherness; and the power that can be harnessed by individuals and communities while upholding original long term personal and/or institutional goals. In the words of Victoria University student Shannon Wellington, in reference to collaboration ‘risk anything except your institutional integrity’ and put eloquently by celebrated maori language educator Mereana Selby, ‘behave in a mana enhancing way’.

Andrea Hemmins
The Kauri Museum

US Marine Corps talk 24 May, Wellington

Making Ready: the American Invasion of New Zealand

2012 is the 70th anniversary of the arrival of U.S. Forces in New Zealand during WWII. As a pre cursor to the American Memorial Day commemorative events being held this month, the New Zealand American Association is hosting Mr Paul Weber, Deputy Director, History and Museums Division, Marine Corps University, in Wellington. Mr Weber will give a free talk on Thursday 24 May.

This is a free event, hosted by the NZAA and the US Embassy of New Zealand. No RSVP is necessary.

Chancellor 2, 16th Floor,
James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor,
147 The Terrace, Wellington
5.30 pm, Thursday 24 May

US 70th anniversary news and events

Museums Aotearoa Tweets

Join Museums Aotearoa


%d bloggers like this: