News Update 27 November, 2012

Kia ora,

Those of you lucky enough to hear and meet Bert Crenca at the MA12 conference will recall his enthusiasm, and the dynamic youth programmes he founded at AS220 at Rhode Island. Last week First Lady Michelle Obama presented AS220 Youth with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. One of fifty finalists, chosen from a pool of 350 applicants, and one of only twelve organizations to win. We’re sending a big shout out to AS220 Youth!

In the news: Capital E – the latest member to have their building closed due to earthquake risk – have found a temporary home at the Railway Social Hall on Waterloo Quay. They have hired space to run their programmes, OnTV and Sound House. Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is gearing up for their big re-opening on Dec 8th. Auckland Museums helped to solve the mystery of the dissappearing island. And the National Library is now fully open with ‘Te Ahumairangi’ – their new visitor space. ‘Te Ahumairangi’ is an exciting reconception of the traditional library space. We loved this idea for the Christchurch Cathedral now that demolition has been halted (thanks Christchurch Art Gallery).

There has also been more news of restructuring and staff moving around the country. Helen Kedgley has been appointed to the new position of Director at Pataka, and Fiona Emberton has left Puke Ariki. All this leads to more job opportunities – check out the latest on our Vacancies Page.

National Digital Forum was packed. Two days of presentations about how the culture and heritage sector are using the huge potential of digital technologies. Speakers included Piotr Adamczyk who talked about his experience at the Google Art Project; Catherine Styles showed us how National Museum of Australia’s game of associative thinking ‘Sembl’ can generate new engagement; Courtney Johnson talked about her idea for making an art collection categorised by emotion; and Suze Cairns asked ‘Are we remaking the museum in the image of the internet?’ A theme that was repeated by the speakers, both local and international, was the need for institutions to take a fresh look at their purpose. Museums are becoming less of a repository of objects and more of a generator of knowledge and stories. Day to day use of technologies is changing public expectations around access and expertise, and dissolving traditional boundaries between the institution and the outside world. All the speakers advocated for the ‘open museum’, for experimentation, risk, open access to collections and information and to actively seek out and give equal voice to their audiences.

Last week the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment released the latest tourism forcasts, 2012-2018. These are positive, predicting a nine percent growth in visitor spending (to $6.3 billion) and 28 percent rise in visitor numbers (to 3.3 million) by December 2018. Also predicted was a continuing decline in traditional markets such as the UK and US, off-set by strong growth from China and Australia. If this shift comes about, it will have implications for museums, as the Australian and Asian visitors make shorter trips. Read the full details here.

MA13: Hamilton, 10-12 April 2013

Thank you to everyone who has come up with ideas and suggestions for the MA13 conference. We have some really good speakers and topics lined up, and hope to squeeze in a few more yet. MA13 will start off with the second Museums Aotearoa Lecture on the evening of Wednesday 10 April, then two full days of conference, including the NZ Museum Awards dinner on Thursday 11 April, and some local tours. Early Bird registrations will open in December.

Phillipa is in Sydney this week at INTERCOM 2012, the conference of the ICOM International Committee on Museum Management, where she is giving a paper on Wednesday. The theme is #museumchallenges – which is also a Twitter hashtag. Even if you aren’t on Twitter, you can look up the conference tweets and see comments and links from and about the conference. There are delegates from over 25 countries, making it a truly international sharing of ideas and opportunities. While the challenges being shared are pretty tough – budget cuts, social change, stakeholder pressure etc – there is a really positive attitude towards the opportunities that museums need to embrace to ensure relevance and an ongoing place in society. We’ll share the experience with you in the next MAQ.

Nga mihi,
Phillipa & Talei

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