Archive for November, 2014

Working with Volunteers by Anika Klee

Everyone knows that volunteers can often be the unsung heroes of the museum world, helping out with a range of tasks and activities.

I have recently been involved in recruiting volunteers to work within the Human History department at Auckland War Memorial Museum, sorting CVs, shortlisting and interviewing the prospective volunteers in a casual style. Being a volunteer at Auckland Museum is a sought after position and being responsible for giving that opportunity to someone was a difficult but rewarding process. It gave me some insight into how difficult recruiting for a paying role must be and how attitude can be more important than experience.

We recruited two volunteers to help the Collection Managers and me with various tasks. Both of the successful applicants are still at university studying for their undergraduate degrees.  I wish I had known to volunteer when I was at that stage of university – not that I knew what I wanted to do with my life at that point! This meant that neither had any hands-on museum experience. Everything they do is new, and is helping them to develop skills that are valuable to potential future careers in the museum sector; if that is the path they wish to take.

World War I uniform photography

My own experience of volunteering in museums was very different to what I am involved with now; I was often given a project and left to work on it by myself, not having direct contact with a mentor or manager. Only occasionally would I work with others, and in these instances they had the same burgeoning skill set as me.

At Auckland Museum however, I work very closely with my volunteer as we photograph World War I uniforms for a half day once a week – often the uniforms are difficult to handle by just one person, so having my volunteer is invaluable.

I have been able to teach her to use our studio photography set up, the ins and outs of our cameras, given insight into a few of the interesting Auckland Museum numbering systems and how to attach the images to Vernon (our Collection Management System). Imparting experience to someone does remind me how much I now know, and how I should remember to value my own capabilities.

As an emerging museum professional, working with volunteers is a great way to show leadership and develop the ability to teach others. Through this experience I have learnt many things, but perhaps the most surprising, was that in increasing someone else’s professional capacity, you often can increase your own.

Anika Klee
Collection Information Technician – Human History,
Auckland War Memorial Museum

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News Update 11 November 2014

Kia ora

This week’s museum news is topped by the announcement of the appointment of former TVNZ boss Rick Ellis as CE of Te Papa. The official press release says.”Mr Ellis is renowned for helping organisations take dramatic steps forward”. Ellis has been emphasising the digital future of museums, with TVNZ quoting Ellis promising a new era, “moving away from the passive physical engagement of the past and looking to technology innovation here out of New Zealand, as well as what others are doing and learn from that and hopefully bring something quite magic alive”, and Te Papa chairman Evan Williams saying Ellis will bring a “shift in the culture of the organisation”. The public reaction so far has been mixed, with the Dominion Post saying “his performance will be watched with a cool and sceptical eye”. He has already been interviewed by Radio NZ and NewstalkZB. Mr Ellis officially begins on 24 November.
Also announced this week is the appointment of Laura Vodanovich, currently director at Tairawhiti Museum, as Director of MTG Hawke’s Bay. After a local political and media storm, and controversial public review of the new facility, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins is leaving MTG in December to pursue other projects. Laura will take over on 1 February 2015. Hawke’s Bay Today reports that the Napier City Council is likely to delay a decision on a new storage facility until after Laura takes up her appointment.

We saw Laura and other colleagues from Tairawhiti Museum, as well as Kawerau, Opotiki, Tauranga and Rotorua, at our regional meeting in Whakatāne on 31 October. We had a very warm welcome into the Mataatua whare at Te Manuka Tutahi, then went on to explore the problematic museum and archive store, followed by lunch at Te Kōputu a te Whanga a Toi, the new Whakatāne Library and Exhibition Centre.

Last week we were in Christchurch where over 30 museum folk gathered at Canterbury University. We met and mingled in the Logie Collection room, and had a fascinating series of pitopito kōrero covering topics from research and teaching with university collections, digital archives, access to collections and new opportunities post-earthquakes, to the expanding museum scene in China. We were particularly interested in the prototype display case that the Logie Collection have commissioned, with built-in lift to enable the heavy toughened glass top to be raised and the contents accessed by one person.

Our regional meetings continue next week at Otago Museum on Tuesday 18 November, with the last for this year at Te Uru (former Lopdell House Gallery) on Friday 28 November. All welcome! Please RSVP as spaces are limited.

The 2014 Museum Sector Survey questionnaire is being distributed this week.  We encourage all museums and galleries to complete the survey, which provides essential data for our advocacy for the sector. This year we have revised and expanded the survey – although it looks more daunting, it includes more explanatory notes, and we have coordinator available to help. The extra detail will provide everyone with more robust tools to inform planning and local and national advocacy.  Both a summary and detailed report will be available in the new year.

The NDF (National Digital Forum) conference is rapidly approaching. MA is pleased to be sponsoring two delegates to attend, selected from a small but interested group of deserving applicants. We will be hearing from Maddy Jones and Jamie Bell when they share their experiences through our blog after the conference. We also encourage all museums and galleries to take part in the NDF Digitisation Survey, the results of which will be reported at the conference.

We look forward to seeing you at meetings or at NDF, and always welcome your telephone calls (04 499 1313) and emails. Feedback and ideas from members are vital to ensure we’re doing the best we can to support museums and galleries in Aotearoa.

Mauriora,Nā Phillipa māua ko Talei


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