Posts Tagged 'Museum'

News Update 21 July, 2015

Kia ora

MA regional meetings are being held from late July to early September. These are an opportunity to meet up with colleagues, visit other museums, share latest ideas and explore the practicalities of the MA Code of Ethics in a friendly and supportive workshop session. See here for dates and locations.

This week the UK Museums Association has released it’s draft revised Code of Ethics.
Like our own CoE, it is principle-based, and is intended to help museums and those who work in them to make informed decisions, and to provide guidance on professional practice.

There’s lots of professional development and networking activity coming up around the country in the next couple of months. As well as our MA regional forums, there are NDF BarcampsRegional Tourism Summits, and several conferences – see new listings below and details on our website.

And while we’re talking about networking and collaboration, news is out about a new approach to collecting – Christchurch Art Gallery and Dunedin Public Art Gallery have jointly purchased a major work by Shane Cotton. ‘Haymaker Series I-V’ will be previewed at DPAG on 30 July, then co-owned and displayed by the two galleries. Maybe the ‘distributed national collection’ concept is coming of age?
wellington

With the school holidays over, there are some special events coming up to enliven the winter. This weekend Wellington celebrates its 150th anniversary, as the capital, with a wide range of museum activities. You can draw a City Councillor at the Portrait Gallery, take a sneak peak at Wellington Museum’s new Attic space, see a light and sound show at Old St Paul’s, and go on Open House tours at the City Gallery and Te Papa.

Len Lye

And best wishes to the Govett-Brewster team as you count down to the opening on the Len Lye Centre this weekend – we love all the shiny photos already appearing on Facebook and Twitter.

Ngā mihi

Phillipa and Talei

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Fishes and Ponds: The Pros and Cons of Working in Large/Small Museums for Emerging Professionals

By Daniel Stirland, Registrar at Canterbury Museum

A recent change of jobs got me thinking: what are the challenges facing emerging museum professionals in terms of career planning and development? What are the key questions that they need to answer to ensure continuing progression? And what possible barriers might stand in their way? Career planning in any profession can be uncertain, but in the museums sector there can be some particularly acute problems. A relatively small workforce, hugely oversubscribed vacancies, job roles requiring specialist skills and knowledge, and in many cases the dreaded “dead men’s shoes” phenomenon can lead to some very fraught decisions and even leaps of faith for emerging professionals.

PondsOne particularly fraught decision that I had to make in my early career was whether to work for a large institution or take a chance on a small one and I’m sure it’s something that many others will have thought about too. So is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond?

To begin answering this question, I looked at the pros and cons of each for emerging museum professionals. In my opinion, larger institutions can be seen as the safe option. They provide formal training, a reasonable wage, the chance to witness museum work in the round, and opportunities to soak up knowledge from more experienced colleagues. They’re also connected to the wider museum community, providing the chance Glass ceilingto make contacts in areas relevant to one’s chosen career path. These are generalisations of course and other factors clearly play a part. But in essence, what an emerging professional can hope to get from larger museums is steady progression. However, steady progression has its limits and even the largest museums have glass ceilings. Glass ceilings can lead to stagnation, which is a real problem for someone trying to develop.

Smaller museums generally offer none of the things that a large museum can. Their budgets are smaller, so wages are reduced and formal training is unaffordable. There are much fewer colleagues to learn from. And they can find it difficult to connect with the wider museum community, which is generally controlled by the larger institutions and can therefore be, let’s admit, a bit snobbish. The benefit of smaller museums is that they offer the chance to actually do museum work in the round. Curatorial, registration, visitor services, exhibitions, finance, media and marketing; all are the domain of the one-man-band.

TableAt first glance, this table makes the larger institutions appear as the better option. However, these criteria should not be considered equals when it comes to career development. With emphasis applied to the more important ones, the table changes quite significantly. Experience in the round is the type of thing that can look excellent on a CV. Being able to state truthfully at a job interview that you have first-hand experience of the various areas of museum work sounds far better than saying you have watched other people doing them. Thus, if they’ve calculated their risk effectively, an emerging professional’s career can skyrocket through working at a small museum. But of course, it carries significant risks. At a large museum, if you find yourself struggling you have colleagues to support you. At small museums, it’s sink or swim.

GraphSo which is the recommended course? Guaranteed to a point but possibly slow progression at a large institution, or potential for rapid development at a smaller museum but with much greater risks? Sadly, it is impossible to provide a blueprint for all emerging professionals, as the answer will be specific to individuals based on their personality, their ambitions, and the circumstances that they find themselves in. Personally, I would caution that there is a fine line between calculated risk and recklessness, never more so than when making career-shaping decisions. But also remember this: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Daniel Stirland
Registrar at Canterbury Museum

News Update June 26

Kia ora ,

It has been another busy couple of weeks, with newspapers reporting council funding decisions, new exhibitions and other museum sector activities – including citizens and politicians in Dunedin debating renaming of Otago Settlers Museum, the Sarjeant Gallery’s partial closure due to earthquake risk, and Te Papa paying $1.5 million for the piano Michael Parakowhai made for the Venice Biennale. Auckland Art Gallery has added to its haul of awards, including the NZIA 2012 NZ Architecture Medal and Chris Saines’ CNZM in the Queens’ Birthday Honours, this time scooping three of the 2012 NZ Property Council Awards – Rotorua Museum only got one.

Statistics survey(s) current and coming up
We have mentioned before that MA is working on a bigger and better sector statistics project. This is now scheduled for August, and museum and gallery organisations will soon be contacted to ask for your input. This is a vital piece of work for all of us – each institution needs to have such data for its own planning, and sharing it enables everyone to gain a better understanding of the bigger picture into which we all fit. MA has engaged researcher Lisa McCauley to run the survey, whom some of you might know from her time as Auckland Museum’s research manager, and we’ve convened a small reference group to ensure that the project is robust, authoritative, useful and accessible. We’re also working with key stakeholders such as MCH and ATTTO as both providers and users of our sector information.

Staff appointments – Waikato, Rotorua, Waitangi, Palmerston North, Auckland…
Waikato Museum has welcomed new Director, Cherie Meecham, lately Deputy Director at Rotorua Museum, and will shortly farewell Deputy Director Andy Lowe to take up the Director’s vacancy at Te Manawa. Now Rotorua is now to also lose its Director, with Greg McManus to become Chief Executive of the Waitangi National Trust in early August. So we anticipate a bit of movement around the country, with a record 17 vacancies advertised in May, and senior appointments awaited at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Tairawhiti Museum, and several at Auckland Museum.

There are plenty of interesting and useful opportunities and events coming up in the second half of this year. Training sessions for UNESCO’s Memory of the World project will be held this week and next in Wellington and Dunedin, and Auckland will host creative sector networking event Survive and Thrive in early July. November’s INTERCOM conference in Sydney has extended its call for papers until 15 July. Nga mihi o Matariki,

Phillipa & Talei

PS – we’re enjoying finding out about Matariki and all things astronomical with the Carter Observatory on Facebook – a great example of successful museum engagement via social media.


Reflections on MA 12 – Ashley Mackenzie-White

Today we have an account by Ashley Mackenzie-White who left the conference full of questions.

MA12: Collaboration in Practice, 18-20 April 2012

 ‘They don’t realise they are experiencing art, but they have a feeling’ – Umberto Crenca 

It is a week since I walked out of Te Papa, acutely aware that the buzz of the MA12 conference would wear off and that soon I would find myself unable to turn to someone who just gets it. As it was said at the end of the 3 day conference; there will always be more questions than answers.  For me, these questions include:

Why didn’t I know about the amazing work of Te Kura before now and how are we, the museum sector going to help?

Why don’t we have our own version of AS220 in Aotearoa?

Why didn’t Pou Temara speak to the entire audience?

Why, in a museum filled with post it notes, was there no place to comment on what we loved, liked or disliked about MA12?

Why at a conference made up of discussions about tikanga Maori, taonga Maori, and more centrally collaboration, was there no discussion about the recently cancelled work by the Mexican artist, Teresa Margolles? Isn’t this decision relevant to all people who work in our sector as it raises questions about consultation and collaboration, censorship and cultural sensitivities, tikanga and korero?

In the three days at MA12, I heard about the exciting projects happening in the Far North.  I learnt that as beneficial as licensing trusts may be, it is the people that always come first, and that we should never take them or the time we have with them for granted. I heard many times how we should feel the fear and just do it. I heard that cooperation is about meaningful involvement, that museums are places of social commentary and that sometimes people have to put their ideals aside to enable a better community. I got excited about boosted.org.nz as well as equal pay. On Day Two, I was pleased to learn thanks to Jim Marchbank – former CEO of Science North, Sudbury, North Ontario – that there are commercial companies that want a long lasting experience that ‘emotional response’ rather than to slap us with their brand.  I was shown, thanks to the amazing people of Canterbury, the transformative power of art, the power of the human spirit, and the importance of our cultural & heritage institutions in the face of disaster.  

For those at the conference, or around Aotearoa, who were privileged to hear and meet Umberto Crenca from AS220, Providence, Rhode Island, you will have experienced that same awe, inspiration, faith and perhaps frustration that I felt during and after his keynote address on the closing day of the conference. These same emotions came to the fore when Coralie Winn from Christchurch showed us the stunning work of the Gap Filer community where all things from fridges full of books, to sculpture,  fill the spaces where buildings once stood.

Museums, galleries, archives, libraries, public spaces and government departments all have the ability to change people and their communities.  Museums, galleries, archives, libraries, public spaces and government departments survive by virtue of the values and passion that fulfil us. This was seen in the conference bags, made from exhibition advertising and lovingly reconstructed by the team at Mana Recovery. These bags are a physical manifestation of what the conference taught me; that it is the people that paint the pipes in copper colour then sprinkle them with dust that will save us from the ‘cuts’.

To the casual observer, the conference went extremely smoothly and our national museum was a gracious host. Phillipa and Sophie and their team have again pulled off a tour de force on their limited budget and tight resources, so hats off to them for a highly successful and engaging MA12.

Ashley Mackenzie-White
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage


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