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

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