Posts Tagged 'Puke Ariki'

From Auckland to New Plymouth by Elspeth Hocking

MapIn the interests of full disclosure, I was born and raised an Aucklander. I drink lattes, have developed opinions on traffic and generally have to fight off my natural tendencies towards being a bit pretentious. However, I no longer live in Auckland, a fact that is purely career based.

I decided museums were where I wanted to be in my second year of my history degree in Auckland. Being quite young and not having a house, pets or children to keep me in one place, I opted to move to Wellington to do the Master of Museum and Heritage Studies degree full time for two years. Little did I know that this would be the first of many moves as I got further and further down the rabbit hole of being a museum obsessive! During our studies, my classmates and I were repeatedly advised by our excellent lecturers that we’d need to look wider than the main centres to really develop our careers. I told lots of people that I’d be totally happy to move to ‘the regions’ for a while for my career, it’d be an adventure, without really thinking it was an actual possibility (I did mention I’m an Aucklander, right?)

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After two years in Wellington, with a three month stint at what was then the Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery (now MTG) in Napier thrown in for good measure, I got my first job – back in Auckland. So, very sadly, I packed up my life in Wellington, said farewell to the fabulous friends I’d made there, had a last emotional visit to my spiritual home of Moore Wilsons, and made the trek back north. After 18 months of visitor research I began to feel like it was time to get back to where I’d always wanted to be – collections. I applied for a number of curatorial and collection positions around the country, including at Puke Ariki, where I had an interview. Well, I was offered the job: Social History Curator, AKA job of dreams, just not really where I’d pictured living.

I took a deep breath and took the job. I then cried for a week. I moved to New Plymouth, leaving my partner in Auckland to continue his PhD. I cried for another week. Then I started the job and I loved it. I still love it. The most incredible thing about working for a regional museum, particularly one as fabulous as Puke Ariki, is the variety of things you get to do on a day to day basis. Recently I’ve curated a collection exhibition, been interviewed on local radio about the Social History collection, dealt with new acquisitions, and started preparing material for our World War One exhibition – and this changes week by week.

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I’m still getting to know New Plymouth and Taranaki as a place to live. It’s very different to anywhere I’ve lived before, and I love being so close to the mountain and getting out and about along the coastline. However it is noticeably small and isolated compared to what I’m used to. I miss my partner, family and friends further north immensely, and there are no good Chinese restaurants nearby which I would love to see change! However the work experience I’m getting at Puke Ariki is invaluable. The point I’m trying to make is that my lecturers were right, of course –upping sticks and moving towns for a job in a regional museum is a tough decision, especially if you’re a bit of a city girl like me. But despite the challenges and the exorbitant amount of money I’ve spent on airfares, I’m so pleased I chose to get out of my comfort zone, and so grateful Puke Ariki took a chance on me. The opportunities I’ve had here to develop an enormous range of skills and try a bit of everything museum-related have been astonishing. I’d highly recommend giving smaller-town New Zealand museums a chance if you’re ready for a change of pace and a chance to do a bit of everything!

Elspeth Hocking
Curator Social History, Puke Ariki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doing your Homework by Chanelle Carrick

Maintaining relationships with local artists is a key part of the Pictorial Collection Curator’s role. How would you go about fostering those important connections?

This was not the worst interview question I’ve been asked. In fact, as an emerging museum professional (EMP) the answer seemed simple at the time. But fast-forward six weeks to a new job at Puke Ariki and a new city where I knew nothing about the local art scene and I was suddenly hit with the size of that task.

Home Work Opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

Home Work Opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

My situation also involved another kind of EMP: the established museum professional. My predecessor still works at Puke Ariki, now as a manager. During her lengthy stint as curator she worked tirelessly to establish and nurture relationships not only with local artists but also between the artists themselves. She initiated regular ‘artist meet-ups’ and maintains a database of artists with whom she is in regular contact. Her passion for the cause is inspirational, and she has built an impressive audience for Puke Ariki. As she has really put in the hard yards those crucial networks were already in place when I arrived. But as the new curator I faced a particular challenge. How do I maintain those connections? How do I form new ones? And how do I become the ‘go-to’ person in place of the previous curator when she’s still around?

Image courtesy of Puke Ariki

Image courtesy of Puke Ariki

The answers to these questions came in the form of an exhibition called Home Work: Taranaki Art Now. Developed in response to the artistic community’s desire to share their work with the region, the show aimed to strengthen relationships with that community. I inherited my role as co-curator (along with former colleague Charlotte Stace and local artists Dale Copeland and Wayne Morris) from my predecessor, and began work on it almost from day one. We put the call out to all Taranaki artists to submit up to three pieces for consideration. The response was phenomenal: we received over 460 submissions from just over 200 artists! Over several days the curators chose 95 works that represented the breadth of creative practices in what was clearly a highly active art scene.

PLAYnes, a  participatory installation by Home Work artist Olivier Perkins with Meg the Puke Ariki Megaladon (author's image)

PLAYnes, a participatory installation by Home Work artist Olivier Perkins with Meg the Puke Ariki Megaladon (author’s image)

I then worked with other staff and artists to write labels, co-ordinate events, develop PLAYnes (an interactive artwork involving paper planes!) and a street art mural within the museum, and promote the show. It was an exciting opportunity to talk with artists en masse and to get myself known in the community. The exhibition also coincided with the inaugural Taranaki Arts Trail, which gave me the chance to visit artists in their studios and to talk with them about their practice. The whole experience was invaluable in helping develop my own connections and in reinforcing relationships with Puke Ariki. After all, artists are essential to the vitality of our communities, and for museums and galleries it’s crucial to maintain productive links with the people who could be your strongest supporters or your loudest critics.

Home Work opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

Home Work opening (Image courtesy of Puke Ariki and Lavamedia)

So, what if you don’t have a regional art exhibition to curate? The simple answer is get out there. Do your homework! Find out who your predecessor’s key contacts were and meet them for coffee. Visit open studios. Attend exhibition openings and talk to people instead of loitering around the nibbles. It can be difficult, especially if you’re an introvert like me. But the effort you put into those relationships will be rewarded with support for your institution, unexpected opportunities, and if your region is anything like Taranaki, the chance to meet some incredibly warm and generous people.

Chanelle Carrick,
Poutiaki Kohinga Whakaahua | Curator Pictorial Collections, Puke Ariki

 

Home Work: Taranaki Art Now was supported by the TSB Community Trust and New Plymouth District Creative Communities NZ

News Update 18 June 2013

Kia ora,

Rā whānau ki a koe, Puke Ariki – celebrating their 10th birthday with a party at the weekend. Their Facebook page has lovely photos of their cake and photo competition.

We’re enjoying so many museums celebrating both Matariki and Maori Language week. One collaboration we like – and hope to get to – is Carter Observatory’s planetarium shows featuring a live 30 minute presentation told exclusively in Te Reo, by Khali Philip-Barbara from Te Papa.

MTG Hawke’s Bay’s team member Ken Miles supports the 1957 Grande Bagnante III sculpture as it receives a CT scan. The sculpture fondly known as the “Bather” is by Emilio Greco from the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection, 47922.

MTG Hawke’s Bay’s team member Ken Miles supports the 1957 Grande Bagnante III sculpture as it receives a CT scan. The sculpture fondly known as the “Bather” is by Emilio Greco from the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection, 47922.

We also liked this photo of a sculpture getting a CT scan from MTG Hawke’s Bay, part of their preparations to move back into their new building.

The Ministry for Culture & Heritage has announced the 2013/14 round of Regional Museums Policy funding with a media release from Minister Christopher Finlayson. He says that about $3 million will be available to assist “regional museums and art galleries that house collections of national significance to improve access to and care of these collections through major construction projects.” Applications close at 5pm on Friday 12 July 2013.

In Australia, a resale royalty scheme was introduced 3 years ago. This requires all resales of art over $1000 to be reported, with a 5% royalty payable to the artist on some sales, and is something that NZ has looked at as well. Now the Australian Copyright Agency is doing a Post Implementation Review, and we’ll be interested to see how the scheme is working.

Northland Museums Association met at Heritage Kaikohe last week, with over 40 people from museums large and small gathering for a presentation by Auckland Museum Director Roy Clare and workshop sessions on governance lead by Lesley Moffat. Its great to see active regional networking, and later this year MA will be convening other meetings around the country. The first is in Napier on 11 July. These will be an opportunity for members to meet, share ideas, hear from speakers, and give feedback to MA Board and staff. Keep an eye on these notices for dates and more details. And if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed in your area, please let us know.

Ngā mihi,
Phillipa and Talei

Karen Verdurmen, Curator at Mercury Bay Museum has come across an Iron Collection found at the Bay Laundromat. Unfortunately this is not something they can keep but Karen wondered if another museum might be interested. They cover the whole era of electric irons. Starting with the ones that had to be put into a light socket. For more information on the collection contact Mercury Bay Museum info@mercurybaymuseum.co.nz.

Karen Verdurmen, Curator at Mercury Bay Museum has come across an Iron Collection found at the Bay Laundromat. Unfortunately this is not something they can keep but Karen wondered if another museum might be interested. They cover the whole era of electric irons. Starting with the ones that had to be put into a light socket. For more information on the collection contact Mercury Bay Museum info@mercurybaymuseum.co.nz.

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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