Posts Tagged 'Diversity Forum'

News Update 25 August 2011

Kia ora

The news is full of openings and events, with excellent coverage of the opening of the Rugby Museum and Oceania (Te Papa/City Gallery Wellington) and lots of rugby-oriented exhibitions, as well as the people of Ashburton arguing about the future of their museum and art gallery – see the round-up in our members’ area here (you need to be an MA member to log in).

Earlier this week I attended the Human Rights Commission’s Diversity Forum in Hamilton. The presentation made to the plenary session by delegates from the weekend youth forum was especially encouraging. While they identified the expected issues of discrimination such as gender, religion and race, they also came up with solutions for including young people fairly and actively in all aspects fo society.

Diversity in practice – focus on youth

Following the plenary presentations, about 20 people gathered at Waikato Museum for the museums and galleries session. This was warmly hosted by staff at Waikato Museum, and supported by Museums Aotearoa and National Services Te Paerangi. We were welcomed on the museum’s marae ātea, and then taken through the Ngaa Pou Whenua exhibition by concept leader Moana Davey. She explained their exchange approach to concept and exhibition development, where ‘ownership’ is shared with iwi, and most of the material generated for the exhibition is to be given to the various marae at the end of the 3-year lifespan of the exhibition.

Sarah Morris shared her experience of developing The Mixing Room, a ground-breaking Te Papa exhibition developed with young refugees. Sue Superville and Kristelle Plimmer who had worked with Sarah were also there, and the project had clearly had a huge impact on their thinking. They had consciously stepped up from consultation and collaboration to co-creating, where the young subjects of the exhibition determined what and how their stories would be told. The young people’s refugee backgrounds were often traumatic, and the long period of project development raised many issues, especially in the personal relationships developed and the responsibility of museum professionals when their role blurs into social agency.

Puke Ariki curator Ruth Harvey shared what she had learned on her 2010 Churchill Scholarship study tour of the USA. Ruth had packed in visits to 30 organisations in 7 cities in 5 weeks. Although she must have been exhausted, she came back inspired with some great ways to work with young people, and has already put some ideas into practice at Puke Ariki. Ruth focussed on what is meaningful to young audiences, and how to make engagement meaningful, for instance through using museums as social spaces. Her excellent report can be downloaded from our site, here.

The fourth speaker was archaeologist Tarisi Vunidilo, who has held positions at Creative NZ, Te Papa, Waikato and Fiji museums, and is now secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Museums Association. Tarisi is particularly interested in young Pasifika engagement in museums, and highlighted the opportunities which have been developed through individual passion, personal connections, and building relationships with other organisations.

Forum attendees – from Taupo, Thames, Te Awamutu, Taranaki, ATTTO as well as other places that don’t start with ‘T’ – had a lively discussion about the issues raised. All agreed that the topic is important and fruitful, and it is very rewarding for museums and galleries when young people are actively engaged. I thank the presenters who opened their practice to scrutiny, the participants who took up their challenges, and look forward to more opportunities to inspire each other to explore meaningful engagement with young people.

On the way back from Hamilton I called in to the National Army Museum. Their exhibitions continue to evolve, with the medical services display evoking hospital smells, and Khaki and Black highlighting the Army’s active rugby tradition. They too are aware of their young audience, with signs on some tempting displays reminding parents that “we have trained our motorbikes not to climb on your children”.

A brief stop in Palmerston North was also a reminder of the looming rugby event. It was great to see the NZ Rugby Museum now fully operational upstairs in Te Manawa. The enthusiastic volunteers were very welcoming, and the displays successfully offer context and insight to their unrivalled collection of rugby memorabilia. Downstairs, Te Manawa was a hive of activity, with staff installing new permanent exhibits before its final stage opens in late September.

All the best to everyone as the kick-off draws near!

Ngā mihi,

Phillipa

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News Update 26 July 2011

Last week I visited Christchurch for the first time since January – and since the most devastating earthquakes. Walking around the barriers around unstable buildings and outside the central city cordon, I was just one of a number of onlookers. Some like me were seeing things for the first time, others were locals, all trying to get a sense of the scale of the disaster and what is happening in the recovery efforts. It was very sad to see so much damage, shops and businesses, museums and galleries closed to the public, and the city so quiet.

However, there are encouraging signs of new energy and momentum. Despite continuing aftershocks, teams of people are repairing, planning and rebuilding all over the city. Cafes are re-opening, parking fees reinstated, and there was even a busker outside Canterbury Museum playing to the trickle of workers and tourists walking past. His recorder music – ranging from ‘La vie en Rose’ to ‘Favourite Things’ – was hauntingly appropriate in the grey winter afternoon.

Canterbury Museum – fenced in (July 2011)

While many museums and galleries are still closed lots is happening. Canterbury Museum is planning to re-open on 1 September. They are working hard on sorting out collections, installing exhibitions and dusting off the galleries to welcome the public back with several new shows.

Christchurch Art Gallery will have to wait until the council and CERA staff move out, an unstable neighbouring apartment block is demolished and various repairs are made to the building, all of which is likely to take until the end of the year. In the mean time they are very busy with collection work and off-site projects. CAG staff post regular news updates online, and their ‘Bunker Notes’ blog is both whimsical and informative http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/news/

current ‘exhibitions’ at Christchurch Art Gallery (July 2011)

The second annual museum sector Remuneration Survey is now underway. Strategic Pay’s survey team has been contacting museums and galleries to invite you to particpate – which also qualifies you for a discount on the price of the report. Following feedback from 2010, some minor adjustments were made to the list of museum-specific positions. Strategic Pay will also be liaising with local councils where appropriate, as all councils now subscribe to their biannual Local Government Survey. The first museum sector survey provided excellent data as well as an overview of remuneration practices in the sector. With more participants and cumulative data, this will become an even more useful tool for museums and for our advocacy on behalf of the sector – I encourage every museum and gallery to take part. You can contact Strategic Pay on 09 303 3045 or surveys@strategicpay.co.nz

While UK textile historian Annabel Westman was here for the MA11 conference earlier this year, she recorded an interview with Radio NZ. It was broadcast on The Arts on Sunday on 24 July, and you can listen to it here.

In the UK, the latest round of funding cuts is biting deeply. The Museums Association has conducted a survey, The Impact Of Cuts On UK Museums, which reveals that one-fifth of UK museums have had cuts of 25% or more. Of those:

•over 60% have cut back their public events
•half have reduced opening hours
•over 85% have cut staff
The MA also reports that over 40% of local authority museums have cut paid staff by 10% or more in the last year. The report can be downloaded here.

I hope to see many of you at the museums and galleries session which is part of the Diversity Forum in Hamilton on 22 August. This promises to be an inspiring and interactive forum exploring diversity in programming and audiences, with a focus on engaging youth. It is also an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with colleagues from other museums and galleries. You can download the flyer and registration information here.

Nga mihi,

Phillipa


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