Posts Tagged 'Christchurch Earthquake'

Reflections on MA12 – Casimar Larkin

Today’s account of the conference is by Casimar Larkin from Parliamentary Service, where current work includes the displays and collections within the parliamentary precincts and keeping these relevant in our changing times.

Passion, collaboration and community

The MA12 Conference was the second of Museum Aotearoa’s conferences I’ve attended.  Again, I found the opportunity provided for networking was invaluable.  Of the three days of this conference, it was the third that I found the most thought-provoking.  Umberto Crenca was an inspired choice to start the final day, imbuing enthusiasm and passion into all he spoke about.  His dedication to improving communities through access to art for all was an ethos that spoke to me and I agree with.  I felt this philosophy was echoed with his statement that art is not a mirror to the world, but a hammer to shape it.

‘Art is not a mirror to the world but a hammer to shape it.’ – Umberto Crenca

The panel discussion following this, being comprised of the ‘Art Crowd’, really articulated the theme of the conference with their diverse examples of collaborations.  These ranged from the expected, other galleries and museums, to the unexpected, a licensing trust made up of rugby playing men who now feel a sense of ownership towards an art gallery.  It emphasised to me that to really succeed in collaboration, it is important to not just look at the obvious choices, but to reach out across the community.

MA12 audience

However, it was the final panel of speakers from Christchurch who were the most inspirational.  Their devotion to their institutions, as well as to their city, was stirring.  I admire their resolve to ensure that everyone outside of Canterbury has opportunities to learn from their misfortunes to improve and be better prepared in the event of disasters.  The best example of making the best of a bad situation shone through for me in the creativity of Coralie Winn and her work with Gap Filler.  Her work taking art and culture to the community to fill up the desolate spaces left by demolished buildings is amazing.  As is her hope that this creativity and imagination will become a way of life and carry through the rebuilding of Christchurch and beyond.

Casimar Larkin
Parliamentary Service

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Reflections on MA 12 – Peter Read

Over the next few days we will be posting some reflections from people about their experiences at MA12, today we have Peter Read from the Otago Settlers Museum.

MA12: Collaboration in Practice

At the end of Day 2 Phillipa asked me what I had enjoyed most about MA12: Collaboration in Practice so far. ‘All of it’, I replied, from my usual perch on top of the fence. 

I was glad to have travelled up to Wellington the day before the conference to catch Jock Phillips setting the scene with some insightful opinion delivered in the inaugural Museums Aotearoa Public Lecture.

The following morning, as the number of delegates assembling in the level 2 foyer at Te Papa grew to critical mass before heading up to Te Marae for a powhiri, the first impression gained was how hot it was. Perhaps it was a combination of all the hot air being expelled by chin-wagging delegates and the balmy Wellington weather. It was a sign of things to come. There would be much more talking and continued good weather (other than a bit of a soaking on the way to the Mayoral reception preceding the awards dinner).

Mayoral reception

From the spirited debate of the Willie Jackson-chaired Taonga to Taonga session to the tales of collaborative projects both inside and outside the museum sector, Day 1 was a consistently stimulating affair that provided much food for thought.

Former CEO of Science North in Sudbury,Ontario,Canada – Jim Marchbank, keynote speaker for Day 2, delivered international flavour and prompted a yearning to hit the road and visit the institution he led for 24 years. Later that day we did hit the road. Unfortunately Canada was out of the question, so I settled for Porirua, where I could take in some institutions closer to home that I had also heard good things about and had long-hankered to see.

Jim Marchbank, Science North

It was true, by the end of Day 2, I had enjoyed it all in equal measure. Then along came Umberto Crenca, keynote speaker for Day 3, with his story of the revitalisation of central Providence into an arts and entertainment district. Bert’s story, ramped up in passionate style, blew us all away. The session on the lessons in collaboration learned from the Christchurch earthquakes was similarly inspiring.

As with all conferences some of the most valuable things afforded by MA12 were the opportunities to catch up with people, take a break from our own institutional timetable, and gain a view of what is going on in the wider museum world. For me MA12 also achieved what it set out to do, providing some valuable examples of, and showing some of the lessons learned from, collaboration in practice.

Peter Read
Otago Settlers Museum

Reflections on MA12 – Andrea Hemmins

Over the next few days we will be posting some reflections from people about their experiences at MA12, starting today with Andrea Hemmins from The Kauri Museum.

Collaboration For Success while Maintaining Integrity

The Museums Aotearoa 2012 conference theme of collaboration was very timely and encouraging. With challenging times for Museums and Galleries now and ahead, keynote speakers were positive, realistic and some truly inspiring. The sharing and exchange of ideas and experiences was enhanced by being in Wellington, and at Te Papa, the heart of New Zealand’s culture and heritage. There was a mutual awareness of the current financial challenges and how adaptions can be made to overcome pressures facing most GLAM sector institutions.

The view from Te Papa

This was highlighted and reinforced by the Stick it to the Man campaign. A bold and honest move by Te Papa to urge the public to have their say about Te Papa today and Te Papa tomorrow. A simple but very effective campaign where a life-sized cut out of Director Michael Houlihan invites visitors to stick a ‘post it’ with their opinion on various walls throughout the galleries. The day before the conference a few ‘post its’ graced the walls, by Friday layers of colourful opinions and ideas sprung fourth and became part of the Te Papa experience. A clever method of empowering New Zealanders with a voice about their/our Te Papa; and most importantly creating a feeling of coming together for the greater good. Also an example of how the visitor can participate as collaborator. This all done at a time when media announcements were being made about budget cuts and limitations.

The reality is, no matter what industry you’re in, today there are now limitations we may not have experienced yesterday. Knowing that we’re in it together and can find ways to utilise each others resources and skills is a useful way to uphold staff morale, visitor experience and overall understanding. Being creative about overcoming restrictions and celebrating team achievement empowers everyone to a higher level.

Speaking of teamwork and celebration, Jock Philips kicked off the conference with an overview of his travels during the New Zealand Festival and Rugby World Cup to discover What is Real NZ? He frequented a multitude of small and large museums and outdoor celebrations from Invercargill to Auckland, drawing up a variety of conclusions in a blog along the way. He commented that the most successful places provided an ‘urgent relevance to the world around’ and that successful celebrations were where communities centred the activity, naturally bringing people together in a hive of activity and enthusiasm; whereas towns that sent visitors in different directions to the outskirts tended to dilute the atmosphere.

Jim Marchbank, previous CEO of Science North in Ontario Canada, provided very good practical advice for museums and galleries seeking collaboration with outside commercial and non-commercial partners. He spoke of collaboration for survival, and the need to remain true to mission statements and brand identities while fulfilling the mutual benefits for all parties involved. ‘Use your strengths and pursue win-win’ he stated. Though he was also quick to point out the importance of flexibility within your own organisation to cater to the requirements of an external party so as not to halt progress. He raised how expectations on both sides of a collaboration should be made clear in the beginning and that major decisions be shared so empowerment is equal and encouraged. A sense of pride on both sides is an indicator of success.

Umberto Crenca’s presentation was truly charismatic and inspirational. His presentation The Art of Community, about the complete turnaround of the city centre of Providence, Rhode Island, through the use of art, foresight, and pure determination, gave us all a reminder of why we love what we do. Whether museum, library or gallery based, GLAM professionals generally have a heightened social conscience, his work setting up the AS220 organisation to revive the city centre and install a sense of place through community participation for social improvement was commendable. This was recognized by the resulting applause. Each of us facing challenges of our own could relate to his vigor and drive to strive on for social awareness, education and facilitating overall greater good for communities.  

Umberto Crenca

The final segment was dedicated to Christchurch, with the museums and art galleries discussing how they came through the earthquakes, and how their futures look. A discussion involving emergency policies and procedures was very informative. On the panel, Coralie Winns Gap Filler project aiming to raise the morale of Christchurch residents through community projects in empty spaces around the city was greatly inspiring.

In summary, the conference relayed the importance of new and long term close working relationships for mutual gain; togetherness; and the power that can be harnessed by individuals and communities while upholding original long term personal and/or institutional goals. In the words of Victoria University student Shannon Wellington, in reference to collaboration ‘risk anything except your institutional integrity’ and put eloquently by celebrated maori language educator Mereana Selby, ‘behave in a mana enhancing way’.

Andrea Hemmins
The Kauri Museum

News update 9 March 2012

At last its official! Part of the new Air Force Museum development will be available for the restoration, storage and rehabilitation of heritage and cultural collections displaced by the Canterbury earthquakes. A proposal to establish a collections recovery centre has been with funding agencies in Wellington since last year, and it has now been confirmed that $1.5 million from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and up to $2 million from government will be available to make it happen. Canterbury’s displaced cultural institutions will be able to use the facilities at the Air Force Museum, due to open by November, free of charge for up to three years. Storage will be available for a further three years. See this and other recent news stories here.

We also congratulate all the team at the Air Force Museum on, and heartily endorse, their Christchurch City Council Mayoral Award presented ‘in recognition of acts of kindness, service and heroism during and following the Christchurch earthquakes’. And marking one year on from the February 2011 earthquake, NSTP has posted a ‘Canterbury earthquake anniversary series’, including a piece by Thérèse Angelo which shows the medal and outlines the recovery centre project, on the nzmuseums blog.

Those who were at MA10 in New Plymouth will recall Queensland Art Gallery’s Tony Ellwood’s inspiring presentation about how he ensures QAG is relevant to its audiences and stakeholders. It has been announced that Tony will be the new Director of Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria after Dr Gerard Vaughan retires later this year. The Herald Sun interview with Tony asks him about his plans for the NGV.

There is no news roundup on our website this week. We’re having some technical challenges, as the method of delivery of news items to us has changed, and we are still working out how to make the new online links available to members. This is in part a reflection of the fact that physical newspapers are in decline around the world as more of our news and information-gathering is sourced online. here is an example of a story about Rotorua Museum appearing in ‘Happyzine’.

MA12, 18-20 April 2012 – REGISTER NOW
More details are being added to the MA12 conference programme as they are confirmed. Our Minister, the Hon Chris Finlayson, is hosting the Directors and Governors’ Dinner at Parliament. There will be special sessions for the ICOM-NZ, Directors of Small Museums and TENNZ groups as well as other associated events. See our website for details or click here to go straight to registration.

Inaugural Museums Aotearoa Lecture – Tuesday 17 April
We are very excited to be launching a new annual Museums Aotearoa lecture series. The first lecture will be on the evening of Tuesday 17 April, so plan to come to Wellington the day before MA12. We have confirmed the speaker and have a generous sponsor – more details very soon…

Diversity Action – Race Relations Day 21 March
Its good to see museums and galleries exhibiting and offering programmes that address issues of diversity, prejudice and inclusion. Te Ngira – the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme – run by the Human Rights Commission, is a great way to gain support for and extend the reach of such programmes. HRC send out regular emails and promote all kinds of activities through their website, including a museums and exhibitions listing. They also facilitate the annual Diversity Forum, usually in August, and Race Relations Day each year on 21 March. There is information about the programme on the diversity action web pages, links to a poster and other resources to support race relations and diversity action.

Creative New Zealand’s Optimise programme supports online marketing capability for arts organisations, and some of its is directly relevant to museums of all kinds. They are planning webinars and the first edition on the online newsletter Optimise Insights has information about the coaching programme, mobile trends and energising your Facebook audience.

Last month we noted crowdsourcing as a growing way for smaller organisations to raise funds and build communities of interest. This includes fundraising websites such as PledgeMe, Givealittle and Fundraiseonline, as well as social networking. We would be interested to hear about your experiences with any of these tools – what has worked (or not) for you, and how.

And in amongst conference organising, sending out the 2012 Directory, arranging scholarships and awards, we have been continuing our advocacy. Phillipa Tocker and MA Chair, Thérèse Angelo met with the Hon Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, earlier this week. We discussed current sector issues, especially the continuing squeeze on public funding, and some of the consequences and possible ways of alleviating them. We talked about specific areas of need such as Christchurch, about collaborative opportunities, and the benefits of accreditation, and where these fit with broader policy challenges. Our Minister is very supportive of his portfolio, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the Ministry for Culture & Heritage to ensure the best possible outcomes for all our members.

Nga mihi,
Phillipa and Sophie

News update 14 June 2011

While preparing this post, we heard about the latest earthquakes to rock Christchurch. We were saddened to hear that the Timeball Station has suffered very badly, especially as the delicate task of dismantling had just begun. As yet we don’t know how other museums and galleries have fared. We send supportive thoughts and aroha to all our friends and colleagues in Canterbury.

Queen’s Birthday Honours

Last week we were delighted to hear that Thérèse Angelo and Jenny Harper were both appointed Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Congratulations to both. We are lucky to have them on the Museums Aotearoa Board, with Thérèse taking on the role of Chair following the April AGM.

It is always gratifying to see the service of dedicated individuals recognised, as it highlights the value of their work and that of the wider cultural sector. Also honoured were several other supporters of the arts and heritage, including Asia NZ Foundation Culture Director Jennifer King, arts patron Sir James Wallace, Te Papa Board member Chris Parkin and the late Desmond Templeton, founder of the Templeton Flax Mill Heritage Museum in Riverton.

Reports and plans

Annual reporting and planning season is upon us again. Reports and plans provide insight into how different organisations evaluate their performance and look to the future.

The Museums Aotearoa 2010 Annual Report was presented at the AGM in Nelson, and recently mailed out with the May MAQ. All members should have received it by now – if you haven’t yet seen it, please let us know. The Annual and complete Financial reports can also be downloaded from our website here.

Other interesting and useful reports and plans include:

The recently released edition of the Regional Visitor Monitor (RVM) data for the year ended March 2011 includes a Quarterly Focus article dedicated to the importance of the domestic market segment to the New Zealand tourism industry. It examines the key differences of the domestic travel market between the eight distinct groups of ‘domestic leisure travellers’, each with its own travel needs and patterns, and each requiring a different marketing approach. To visit the RVM section of the Tourism Research website and download the Domestic Market Segmentation report and/or the RVM data and report click here.

Museums and galleries online

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has had an online makeover – completely redesigned and with new information, functions and images, the here.

Ka kite,
Phillipa

PS – Sophie is away on leave this month, I hope she’s having a great time on her travels!

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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