Archive for August, 2013

News Update August 27, 2013

Kia ora,

Wen Powles, Puawai Cairns and Vera Mey shared some fascinating insights at a museums and galleries session of the annual Diversity Forum yesterday in Wellington. Chair Courtney Johnston introduced and teased out their personal and professional perspectives: St Paul St’s Vera as ‘the Asian curator’; Te Papa Curator Māori Puawai negotiating the territory of mana taonga both internally and externally; and Wen developing a international strategy for and with Te Papa. They talked about the complexity of the issues they are dealing with. What is ‘the’ Māori cultural norm, or ‘the’ Asian, when there are not only ethnic differences, but also generational, political and attitudinal as well, just as there are among any group of individuals?

An interesting case was explored through Puawai’s negotiations to acquire a gang patch for Te Papa’s contemporary Māori culture collection – working with gang members to explain her reasons, and the process of ‘earning’ as opposed to purchasing a patch for the collection. Rowan Carrol from the Police Museum noted that their collection includes a number of gang patches, each with very specific provenance, and that exhibiting them is another story entirely!  Thanks to Ian Wards, currently working with NSTP, for making all the arrangements for this forum.

Last week Statistics NZ released the International Visitor Arrival Statistics for the year ended July 2013. Key facts:

  • 2.647 million visitor arrivals
  • up 1 per cent from the July 2012 year (boosted by Rugby World Cup)
  • up 6 per cent compared to the July 2011 year

Where they come from is interesting:

  • Australia 45% of total visitor numbers (1.19 million), up 1% on July 2012 year
  • China 9% (0.23 million), up 27%
  • United States 7% (0.19 million), up 5%
  • United Kingdom 7% (0.19 million), down 10%

When we compare this with data from our Museum Sector Survey which includes annual totals from museums/galleries: 23% of museum visitors were from overseas (29% for large museums)
Data from our Museum Visitor Survey which measures visitation over a short period in February/March gives a very different total and further breakdown for museum visitors:

  • 42% of museum visitors were from overseas, and they came from,
  • Australia 29%
  • Asia 5%
  • United States and Canada 17%
  • United Kingdom 25%

In the latest Regional Tourism Indicators the rolling average index data for the year to July 2013 shows a decline of 12% for international visitor spend, and an 8% increase for domestic visitor spend over the same period.

On the positive side, the latest NZ Tourism Sector Outlook forecasts for 2013-2019 shows that the long term outlook for the tourism sector is for growth in visitor numbers and spending expected from Australia, the United States, China and emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa. This should more than offset the effect of the Global Financial Crisis on the number of visitors traveling to New Zealand from the United Kingdom and Europe. The report also predicts further change in the composition of visitors – their age, why they visit and how long they stay.

A reminder that the latest Museum Sector Remuneration Survey undertaken by Strategic Pay is now complete. The confidential report can be purchased by participating organisations, and also by non-participating members of MA. It is not available to individuals. More information for members is here.

And a reminder that we have new occasional guest blogs coming through. The latest is from one of our Museums Aotearoa members Michelle Sim of the Air Force Museum, who recently had an amazing experience, hitching along with two museum colleagues on an Air Force round trip to the UK. Also don’t forget to check out the new members’ section of our website. Introduce yourself on the forum by 5pm tomorrow and we will send you a T-shirt.

Ngā mihi
Phillipa and Talei
PS – last Friday we circulated our first notice about the MA14 conference – The Business of Museums. Let us know what and who you’d like included, and plan to join us with hosts MTG Hawke’s Bay in Napier, 2-4 April 2014.
Proposals for contributions are welcome. We will consider proposals for individual presentations, group presentations, forums, panels, quick-fire sessions, debates, professional development workshops and any other ideas you may have.Please send a brief outline of your proposal to Museums Aotearoa by 23 September 2013.

MA14 Conference: The Business of Culture
2-4 April 2014
MTG Hawke’s Bay, Napier


London: a Flying Visit – Guest Blogger Michelle Sim

As civilian employees of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), staff of the three New Zealand service museums occasionally enjoy some unique ‘perks’.  Having worked as the Archives Technician at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch for five years now, I recently had the privilege of experiencing my best perk yet – a professional development trip to the UK and back onboard a military flight.

Our aircraft, ready to depart Ohakea at the beginning of the trip.

Our aircraft, ready to depart Ohakea at the beginning of the trip.

For the past couple of years, the Air Force Museum has secured two seats on a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Boeing 757 aircraft bound for the UK, primarily tasked with returning military personnel on the annual “LONGLOOK” exchange between the NZDF and British armed forces.  This has given some of our staff the chance to make (literally) a flying visit to the Royal Air Force Museum to meet with associates and carry out various strategic objectives.

Overawed by the size of a Lancaster bomber at the RAF Museum

Overawed by the size of a Lancaster bomber at the RAF Museum

This year, it was myself and two colleagues (Emma Meyer, Collections Technician and Melanie Bacon, Administration Assistant) who had the opportunity to ‘hitch a ride’ on this 12-day round trip.  We set off from RNZAF Base Ohakea on Monday 29 July and after 4 days’ flying, with stopovers in Darwin, Penang and Dubai, landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire late in the evening on Thursday 1 August.  From there, we travelled by train down to London, where we had the next three days at our disposal, before catching the return flight early the following Monday.

'Milestones of Flight' gallery, RAF Museum

‘Milestones of Flight’ gallery, RAF Museum

With this three-day window of opportunity we were able to spend a full day at the RAF Museum at Hendon.  The RAF Museum is probably the closest to our own in terms of collection focus, so this visit gave us the valuable opportunity to see first-hand how they operate, both front of house and behind the scenes, while also meeting our ‘equivalents’ to share ideas and discuss common issues and interests.

A young visitor at the British Museum

A young visitor at the British Museum

The remaining two days were spent dashing around as many other museums and attractions as we could, with the aim of critically analysing them from the visitor’s perspective and gathering ideas and inspiration for new initiatives that we could implement back home.  Between us, we managed to get around no less than eight different museums and attractions, including the V&A Museum, Imperial War Museum,

Yeoman Warder guided tour at the Tower of London

Yeoman Warder guided tour at the Tower of London

Tower of London, Museum of London, Churchill War Rooms, British Museum, Household Cavalry Museum and London Zoo, as well as squeezing in some general sightseeing along the way.  We were all extremely footsore and exhausted by the end, but certainly in no doubt that we’d made the absolute most of our short stay in London.

Myself with our friendly rickshaw driver/impromptu tour guide in the historic quarter of Georgetown, Penang

Myself with our friendly rickshaw driver/impromptu tour guide in the historic quarter of Georgetown, Penang

Then, it was time for the 5-day journey home, which was simply a reverse of the route we had taken on the way over, but with a full day stopover in Penang, Malaysia, which enabled us to fit in some more sightseeing.  As well as taking a rickshaw ride through the old quarter of Georgetown, we took the opportunity to visit the Owl Museum on Penang Hill, which is essentially a showcase of 2,500 owl-themed collectibles.  While it may be considered little more than a cabinet of curiosities, this little museum was surprisingly savvy with its marketing and professional in its approach.

Travelling with the RNZAF was in itself quite an experience, as we transited through several foreign military bases and experienced communal barrack-style accommodation and tight security briefings.  The Air Force flight crew looked after us very well, and we even had the chance to sit in the cockpit with the pilots for a landing and a take-off – definitely something you wouldn’t experience on a commercial flight!

The best seats in the house! In the cockpit after a take-off from Darwin.

The best seats in the house! In the cockpit after a take-off from Darwin.

This trip was an amazing opportunity, and we have all returned with many new ideas and perspectives that we are looking forward to sharing with our colleagues over the coming weeks.

Michelle Sim
Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Four WWI museums at the ‘Western Front’ – Guest blogger Andrew Matheson

This is the first in our series of guest blog posts. We have been recruiting bloggers to write for us on a range of topics: from interesting things our members are doing to thoughts and inspiration from people outside the sector, but who are still part of our GLAM ecosystem. Subscribe to the blog and watch out for more of these in the coming weeks.

In this week’s post Andrew Matheson from WW100 has recently been on a trip to the ‘Western Front’ where the museums are interested in collaborations with people and institutions in Aotearoa.

Four WWI museums at the ‘Western Front’

On a recent business visit to the ‘Western Front’ I visited four museums with a First World War focus.

Historial de la Grande Guerre at Péronne

Historial de la Grande Guerre at Péronne

In France the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne was established just over 20 years ago.  A Corbusier-inspired building houses the collections, and is attached to a brick château through which visitors enter.  The museum tells stories in three languages (English, French and German): not just of the military side of the war but how the lives of combatants and civilians were drastically modified by it.

Entering the main gallery at Meaux alongside 1914 soldiers

Entering the main gallery at Meaux alongside 1914 soldiers

100 km to the north is the town of Meaux, which hosts the Musée de la Grande Guerre in a striking new building.  This is a museum of history and society that aims to provide a new perspective on the First World War.

In Flanders in Belgium the well-known In Flanders Field Museum occupies part of the Cloth Hall in Ypres (Ieper).  It has reopened after a significant redevelopment, and in its first year since then 300,000 visitors passed through.

Not far away in the town of Zonnebeke is the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  In July a large extension to the museum was opened; mostly in underground galleries but also including a recreation of trenches and dugouts.  The new collections include the sculptural work Falls the shadow by New Zealand artist Helen Pollock, and a section of the exhibit devoted to New Zealand’s involvement in the area.

All these museums are aware of New Zealand’s contribution to the First World War, and are keen to do more to tell our stories. Specific requests and offers at the moment are:

  • The museum at Meaux would like to borrow artefacts and gain the use of images for its 2015 exhibition on the Dardanelles and eastern front campaigns.  It would also like to source appropriate medals and genuine or replica New Zealand Army boots for one of its displays.  It is also willing to assist New Zealand museums with sourcing French artefacts.  If you are able to assist, please contact the Director Michel Rouger:
  • Meaux would like to host contemporary artists from New Zealand performing works with a relevant theme.
  • The museums at Meaux and Péronne are both interested in hosting presentations by authors or researchers on First World War themes (French-speaking ones especially).
  • The Historial at Péronne is interested in swapping exhibits, exchanges of personnel, or loans of artefacts.  The contact there is Frédérick Hedley:

    Trench exhibit at the First World War museum at Meaux

    Trench exhibit at the First World War museum at Meaux

If you are able to help, or want to take advantage of these invitations or offers, please contact the museums directly or get in touch with the First World War Centenary Programme Office at:

Andrew Matheson
First World War Centenary Programme

News Update August 13, 2013

Kia ora ,
Today Te Papa and Auckland Museum are collaborating in examining a sharp-tailed sunfish which was found on Omaha Beach north of Auckland earlier this year.

Taking the top off a sunfish

Taking the top off a sunfish

Too big for Auckland Museum’s facilities, the rare 2.1m specimen has been on ice in Te Papa’s labs, and now Auckland Museum’s Tom Trnski and Te Papa’s Andrew Stewart are leading its dissection. You can watch the action live via Te Papa’s blog and they’re posting images on Te Papa’s Facebook and Auckland Museum’s Facebook pages.

In Christchurch, post-earthquake repairs are at last underway, beginning with levelling the ‘wonky’ Art Gallery. They hope to reopen in 2015. Jenny Harper is quoted as saying, “I don’t think I have ever been so excited about seeing people in hi-vis jackets at the gallery”!

We enjoyed meeting John Orna-Ornstein, then of the British Museum, when he toured NZ and spoke at MA13 in April. As of 1 July, John has been appointed Museums Director in a big restructure at Arts Council England – watch his presentation to the UK Museums Association here.

Local council election nominations close this Friday, voting begins on 20 September, and closes on 12 October. We are now seeing more declarations by candidates and commentary in the media. I have written a ‘Policy Matters!’ piece in the next issue of MAQuarterly – which is at the printers now – with some thoughts on advocacy in this context. Experience shows that, in general, it is better to keep museum matters out of local politics, and wait until after the elections to lobby councillors and council officials in the context of annual and long term planning. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the elections. It is vital that museums and galleries understand and are engaged in local issues with their communities, and are prepared for any adverse fallout after the elections.

Looking around the election information appearing, some organisations have put out guidelines and manifestos. The Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce has come out in favour of transport infrastructure projects, and against any increase in council spending, saying that ‘councils must cease those activities that fall outside of core business.’ While the WECC stops short of defining ‘core business’, and museums are included in the wording of the latest version of the Local Government Act, our institutions are still vulnerable if our value isn’t appreciated locally.

Here in the office we hope you’ve been exploring the new features of our improved online systems. We are now looking at other new communications, and will be introducing guest blogs over the coming weeks. The first one will be this week by Andrew Matheson from WW100 about his recent trip to the ‘western front’ and some requests he has had from institutions there who would like to work in collaboration with New Zealand Museums.

Ngā mihi
Phillipa and Talei

News Update 31 July 2013

Kia ora,

The big activity for us this week is the switch to our brand new website and database – at least at the back end. The website looks very much the same to the public, with the addition of a searchable museum directory, which includes national organisations and service providers. Once members are logged in, there is access to a whole new range of services. The most obvious are the forums (or ‘fora’ for those who like their Latin accurate) and members directory where you can find and contact your museum and gallery colleagues.

2013_07_30_MA_Danny_P1010354Congratulations to these enthusiastic members who have earned themselves a t-shirt by being the first to update their details:

Janie Sutherland (Puke Ariki), Felicity Milburn (Christchurch Art Gallery), Gelaine Marupo (Heritage Kaikohe), Erin Flanigan (Puke Ariki), Ruth Barrett (student)

Please make sure you log in and check that your details are correct.

Our next giveaway will be t-shirts for the first five forum posts, and another 5 for the most interesting over the next 2 weeks (we’ll do the judging, bribes will be taken into consideration).

On a more serious note, we’re looking forward to the next members meeting in Christchurch on 15 August. We’ll be hosted by Canterbury Museum, and begin with afternoon tea. We’ll hear about some MA activities and you will have time to talk to staff and Board members – as well as each other – about what you want MA to be doing for you and the sector. Afterwards Canterbury Museum is bringing Sarah Davy from the NZ Film Archive to present the compilation of ‘Temple, Prison, Restaurant: Representations of Museums and Archives in Film and Television’. Sarah presented this compilation at MA13 in Hamilton and we’re delighted that it will now be shared more widely. Don’t forget to RSVP so we can get the catering and room setup right.

The 2013 Museum Sector Remuneration Survey has now been released. MA worked with Strategic Pay to set up this annual survey in 2009, and the first survey in 2010 included data about 1792 positions in 49 organisations. Four years on, the 2013 report covers 3590 employees in 53 organisations. It seems that the high number of advertised vacancies in the last year has only resulted in a small increase in staff turnover, and that salaries have increased about in line with the wider Not For Profit sector in that period. The report is confidential and only available to organisations, not individuals. To find out more, contact Strategic Pay

We’ll look forward to seeing many of you at meetings around the country and hearing from you online very soon.

Nga mihi
Phillipa and Talei

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