News Update 10 July 2012

Kia ora,

The last fortnight has seen more council planning and funding decisions reported, and more controversies. When resources are tight, there will always be some who see museums and galleries as soft targets for cuts – and unfortunately such decisions are often made in ignorance of – or in spite of – the consequences.

In Ashburton, objectors to the new museum/gallery project are staging a mini-version of the Auckland Art Gallery controversy, invoking the RMA and Environment Court. While the scale is rather different, the delay and wrangling will inevitably be costly in time, energy and dollars. Invercargill is also gripped with frustration over development plans for Southland Museum & Art Gallery, now calling for a ‘review’ of their proposed $24.6m project. In Auckland the final outcome has been even better than anticipated, and the Auckland Art Gallery has now carried off yet another prestigious architecture award, claiming one of the 12 international awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects. We can only hope that Ashburton and Invercargill come out of it all with great new facilities.

Further north, Marcus Boroughs is leaving Aratoi to be head of Public Programmes at Auckland Museum in the midst of very public stone-throwing at governance level, and now their Board Chair has stepped down as well. In Wellington the Museums Trust is under fire from its Maritime Friends for the Museum of Wellington deaccessioning a model of the Titanic. And announcements are finally being made of Te Papa’s new vision and structure.

The National Whale Centre has launched their Virtual Museumand blog this month. The creation of the National Whale Centre is the result of many years of research into the creation of a Picton Foreshore attraction which addresses the unique position of New Zealand as an ocean nation with a 172 plus years history of whaling and subsequent shift to more sustainable aquamarine industries and associated ecotourism ventures. You can see their site and blog here.

Statistics survey development
Accurate and detailed information is essential for planning and for advocacy. We have already mentioned that Museums Aotearoa is developing a comprehensive sector statistics project to gather and share data about museums and galleries around the country. This is taking shape now, and we expect to roll it out in August.

Staff moves
With the latest announcement that Cam McCracken will be taking over as Director of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and Marcus Boroughs departure from Aratoi, there are some interesting vacancies around the country. Alongside changes proposed at Te Papa and underway in other institutions, and a record number of vacancy advertisements coming through in the last few weeks, we are clearly in a period of ‘churn’. So for museum professionals looking to advance your career, now is the time to consider your options and look at taking on a new challenge.

Nga mihi,
Phillipa & Talei

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