Its great to see some really good news stories about museums and galleries recently in amongst the war, crime and election results making headlines. MOTAT was on Saturday’s TV One news as well as the Herald as it celebrates 50 years with new exhibits and a new strategy. And it seems that everyone loves a good slimy squid story – especially on video!
Last Friday the winner of the biennial Walters Prize was announced at Auckland Art Gallery – international judge Charles Esche was interviewed by Lyn Freeman on Radio NZ’s Standing Room Only, along with winning artist Luke Willis Thompson. Freeman also interviewed Simon Denny, Walters Prize finalist and artist selected to represent NZ at the 2016 Venice Biennale, whose show The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom opens at the Adam Art Gallery this Friday.
The news was mixed for Museum of Wellington City and Sea, when they announced that the ‘key to the city’ of Wellington had been stolen from its display case – but the story turned out well when it was anonymously returned to Wellington Police. Also mixed exposure for Waitangi National Trust in the papers and TV3 drawing comments from PM John Key and local MP Kelvin Davis with the introduction of a $15 entry fee for New Zealanders after the fee was dropped in 2008.
On the down side, the Ashburton museum and gallery building is in the news again with its budget blowout and parking disputes between council and residents – another example of conflicting local interests getting in the way of what should be a positive community amentity.
And congratulations to Canterbury Museum, winner of the Tourism/Hospitality (medium/large enterprise) category at the 2014 Champion Canterbury Business Awards , just ahead of the Air Force Museum – Vbase partnership.
After serving for 32 years, Mike Taylor has retired from the staff and management committee of Picton Heritage & Whaling Museum. The new Manager is Alison Hinkley, and the new President of Picton Historical Society is Jon Perano. The Society reports they are in good heart and moving forward with new displays and looking forward to a busy cruise-ship season.TripAdvisor has named Te Papa best in the South Pacific, and Auckland Museum 2nd – ahead of all the Australian museums. Eight other New Zealand museums feature in the list, giving us 40% of the the top 25, with only 20% of Australia’s population and 15% of its GDP.
Last week saw about 40 people from a wide range of organisations meeting for ICOM NZ‘s conference at Auckland Museum, joined by a number of museum staff for many sessions. The theme of Pacific Connections: Culture, Connections, Museums and Research produced a varied and engaging 2-day programme. The eye-opener for many was a sobering presentation about the reality of Pacific Islanders’ position in Auckland society by Damon Salesa, Associate Professor of Pacific Studies at The University of Auckland, and the first person of Pacific Island descent to become a Rhodes scholar to Oxford. With humour and empathy, Damon explained the disengagement of Pasifika from mainstream economy, education and political power, and offered some insights into how some of these disadvantages and injustices might be addressed by museums. Thanks to hosts Auckland Museum, and the organisers, especially Jane Legget, for all the hard work that went into the conference.
Another highlight for those who stayed for the Museum Medals event at Auckland Museum on 23 September was the presentation of awards to some special colleagues. Linda Tyler and Margaret Morley were made Associate Emerita of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Jonathan Mane-Wheoki and Dame Cheryll Sotheran were made a Companion of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which recognises achievement or contribution to areas relevant to, or in some way connected to, the public service of Auckland Museum or other New Zealand museums. We applaud their well-deserved recognition.
Attending the ICOM conference and staying on to visit Wellington was Professor Dr Hans-Martin Hinz, President of ICOM international. His conference keynote explained the background of Germany’s colonial activity in the Pacific and its end because of WW1. Dr Hinz also gave a well-attended presentation about cultural objects at risk, hosted by NSTP at Te Papa last week.
We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at our regional meetings in the next two months, with the first at Waitomo tomorrow. We’re also excited by the lineup of speakers for this year’s National Digital Forum conference, 25-26 November at Te Papa. You have until 5pm today (30 September) to apply for a registration bursary from MA.
If you’re in Wellington next Wednesday, 8 October, we recommend the Awesome Arts Access Auction. This is both fun and a terrific cause, we hope to see many friends and supporters there.
Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei