Archive for the 'Snippets & Tidbits' Category

Medals and museums

Recent media attention has highlighted the proposed sale of medals and log books belonging to aviation war veteran Les Munro.

MOTAT, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Air Force Museum in Christchurch and the Otago Museum are working together to support Mr Munro to determine if there is a way that his personal wishes can be fulfilled while retaining his precious World War Two medals and memorabilia in their public collections within New Zealand.
The museums respect the decision Mr Munro has made to raise funds for the upkeep of the Bomber Command Memorial in London and are currently discussing a number of options to achieve the best outcome for all.

Leading these discussions is Mr Michael Frawley, CEO of MOTAT who says “we have a deep admiration for Mr Munro’s altruistic aims and we hope to work with him to realise these. Our primary goal is that Mr Munro is fully supported throughout this process whatever the outcome may be. The huge contribution Mr Munro, his colleagues and the entire Bomber Command made to World War Two cannot be emphasised enough and our museums will continue to highlight their valour, commitment and sacrifice.”

The museums, supported by organisations such as the RSA and NZ Bomber Command Association, are also collaborating with a number of their corporate sponsors to determine the level of financial support available for this project.

Phillipa Tocker
Executive Director
Museums Aotearoa

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The Business of Culture – Keynotes

We finally have the videos of the keynotes from MA14.

For those out there who missed the conference the theme was ‘The Business of Culture’ and focused on the ways museums can use the language and tools of business and entrepreneurship to ensure their survival without losing their cultural soul.

First up Kate Clark, Heritage Consultant talks about Competition, Cooperation and Community.

Next we have Laura Wright, the CEO of Tate Enterprises discussing Revenue.

Our final keynote of the conference was Ganesh Nana, Chief Economist at BERL and his talk on Proving our Value.

2014 National Visitor Survey Results

2014NVSinfo

 

National Digital Forum Reflections (National Horseless Forum?)

Phillipa and I attended the National Digital Forum (NDF) conference last week. Phillipa is on the NDF Board, which is great for Museums Aotearoa, because it keeps us in the loop with one of the few organisations spanning the entire NZ ‘GLAM sector’ (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums). New Zealand is pretty small, and it seems we’re all sitting in our respective cultural/memory/identity institutions thinking about similar challenges. We should be talking to each other as much as possible. So that’s what we did last week, and here are a few thoughts I had…

It was my second NDF conference, and I’m happy to report it was every bit as interesting as my first. Last year I was initially bemused at the concept of attending a ‘cross sector digital conference’. How frightening. I’ve only just mastered the microwave. Needless to say, I donned my best imposter stance and got on with it. I was pleasantly surprised then, as I was last week, with the relevant content discussed.

NDF is not a conference of tech people talking in inaccessible languages about the latest widgety wizardry thing they have created. Well, I suppose there’s a little bit of that, but it’s also very much a forum of thought provoking questions, challenges, calls to action, and actual constructive discussions about the future of our work. In a rapidly changing ‘digital environment’. Otherwise known as the modern world.

There was a lot of information thrown around over two days, and different people will be taking away different ideas to apply to their work. From my perspective, a week later, I have a few comments stuck in my mind that I’d like to share.

The first is from Michael Lascarides, of New York Public Library fame. He kicked off the conference talking about some projects they’re currently working on. Including What’s on the menu?, a crowdsourced menu transcription project, and their very fun Map Warper tool, which locates historical maps onto their current location/current maps, and also works on the principle of public participation. They’re fantastic projects, well worth checking out.

Within this presentation, Michael made the comment that “digital is the new horseless”. In other words, to define anything as digital is becoming increasingly redundant, because all we’re doing is making a statement about what it is not. (Incidentally this is a thought which occurs to me when I select the ever mysterious ‘vegetarian option’ at weddings. I don’t know what it is, but I do know what it’s not). So in this case, we’re making an arbitrary distinction between the physical and the non-physical. I think this is an important point, and one that we need to be constantly reminding ourselves about. Quit thinking about fancy digital experiences/content. Just focus on authentic experiences/content. Understand that people expect the technology of the day to be part of everything that they do, and the technology that enables our work always has been, and always will be changing.

The second related (throwaway) comment that I liked was made by Michael Parry from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, in Melbourne. They’ve been doing some cool things, such as their 15 Second Place project. The idea is that people capture ‘the mood of the place they’re in’, in a 15 second video, and upload it to an ACMI site via iPhone app. Apparently the app also works on iPod touch and iPad, and you can view the site (but not upload content) on other mobile devices. It’s an experience made for iPhone users. People are using it, having fun, telling their stories.

Someone asked Michael about ACMI’s decision to design for iPhone, and Michael made a quip along the lines of ‘Have you ever seen someone taking a video on an iPad? Yeah, they look like a dick’. Which I thought was wonderful. That’s a joke, obviously (although I did see someone taking a photo outside Te Papa with an iPad yesterday, and would have to agree…) but what I liked was the attitude of not over-thinking the creation of a thing/experience/interaction. Do what is logical. Focus on your audience. Don’t try and do everything, just do something well. Make things. If they’re wrong, change them.

The third fond moment worth sharing was actually from a slide in Lucinda Blaser’s presentation. Lucinda is from the National Maritime Museum in London. Her presentation was all about getting data out there. The attitudinal shift from making sure all information presented to the public is curated, complete and accurate, to simply making all data available. Knowing that in some cases it will be wrong, and allowing the public to play a part in the collection/modification of the information we hold.

What tickled me during Lucinda’s presentation was a selection of quotes that I believe had been transcribed from a ship’s log. One of these gems was simply “course diverted to investigate whales”. I liked this, firstly because it made a nice interlude to imagine a ship full of ye olde English sailors gallivanting around the oceans ‘investigating’ whales, and secondly because I thought it nicely illustrated the human connection to the content that we talk about. We can not know how people (now or in the future) will use the content that we have, what they will take from it, what it will mean to them, and it doesn’t matter. What we do know is that people probably won’t find any of it unless we make it accessible, put it out there, share our things/stories/connections. Do this well, and we can sit back and let people make their own emotional connections.

That’s my two cents worth.

As a vaguely related endnote, I want to let you know that the Wellington City Council last month ‘launched’ the 1892 Thomas Ward maps of central Wellington as an additional layer you can select to view in their public GIS system (which shows other useful information like drainage layers, and property boundaries etc). Here’s a press release from the Mayor getting excited about said ‘Geospatial Goldmine’. It’s a small step, but it’s in the right direction. There’s a lot more gold just waiting to be exploited in that mine. And there’s a big role for us (and by us I mean GLAMs) all to play in that ‘mining expedition’, so to speak.

We need to be thinking about getting out of our bunkers and talking to each other, working together even. Illustrating the potential of our information! How it can enrich lives! Taking it to the people!

Incidentally, our next conference is in April – in Wellington. The theme is collaboration.

Come.

Talk to your colleagues.

Sophie de Lautour Kelly – MA Membership Services Manager

NDF Reminder

Tell all your friends …

Only TWO AND A HALF weeks to go til the NDF 2011 conference in Wellington!

There’s an awesome programme lineup this year.

Spaces are filling up fast so if you’re um’ing and ah’ing about coming along, now’s the time to register!

Pass it on, sign up and come along to be inspired and delighted at NDF2011.

Museum snippets, 19 October 2011

If you missed Hamish Keith proposing ‘Te Papa North’ on Morning Report today, you can listen on the Radio NZ website.

And don’t miss Auckland Museum’s new taonga show Tāmaki Paenga Hira, which premiers on Māori Television tonight at 8.30pm.

Ka kite ano,
Phillipa

Air Force Museum assist salvaging Lyttelton museum artifacts

Helping hand for Lyttelton Museum


In early March the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, located at Wigram, was approached to see if assistance could be provided to help salvage and store some of the more vulnerable items from Lyttelton Museum. The building sustained severe damage on 22 February and was on the verge of collapsing. The honorary curator, a 90+ year old gentleman, was very distraught and anxious that the collection should be saved. In addition to general Lyttelton ephemera, the collection contains important maritime material relating to Lyttelton, as well as Antarctic objects that are second only to those held by Canterbury Museum.

After some planning and purchase of materials a small team of mainly curatorial staff drove to Lyttelton via the tunnel on Friday 4 March. The damage to many of Lyttelton’s historic buildings was extensive and severe. On reaching Lyttelton
Museum it was clear that the team would not be entering the building because of the risk of collapse and concern for public safety. Members of the Lyttelton Volunteer Fire Brigade, armed with instructions about what objects needed to be removed and a determination to succeed in doing so, entered the building and began bringing out the treasures. Air Force Museum staff set up a packing area located between the unstable museum building on one side and the road to the port on the other along which large articulated trucks were continually travelling to get supplies through to Christchurch and beyond. The rescued objects were carefully packed and transported back to Wigram for temporary storage.

By day’s end about 25% of the collection had been rescued and placed in safe storage at Wigram, much to the relief and delight of the museum’s honorary curator. It is hoped that the building can be stabilised so that the remainder of the collection can be saved. For those staff involved, it was a challenging, rewarding and thoroughly interesting day, and a very satisfying opportunity to handle precious local community treasures and to help our fellow museum colleagues.
David Watmuff
Collections manager
Air Force Museum of New Zealand


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