The team at NSTP was sad to say goodbye to North Island MDO Ian Wards early in September. Ian has headed south to be Project Curator at Otago Settlers Museum. Before he left, Ian had this to say:
Kia ora koutou
Well, it has been a real privilege to travel the country visiting museums and art galleries, dishing out my wisdom …
Seriously now, I have learnt a huge amount over the last year or so working for National Services. Thank you for all those curly questions, to which I have attempted answers – well, I tried! I’ve kinda felt like a knowledge server, soaking in knowledge and advice while on the road or in the office – then flinging it back out across the many, many museums and galleries of our islands.
We have some real stars in Museumland – not just council- or government-funded ones, but also museums of passion: aka the trusts and historical societies who carry on, funded on nothing but air, because they care about maintaining the material heritage of this country. I’ve seen some truly creative ways of sparking the imagination of present-day people – to feel what it was like in the past, to appreciate where we are today.
Understanding what has gone on before us, including the many unfortunate consequences of humans on this land, provides us with valuable lore to focus our vision as we ‘manage’ the land for future generations.
The environmental degradation of this country since the arrival of people is the elephant in the room of New Zealand museums. Do we choose not to interpret it simply because it isn’t pretty or tourist friendly?
This rant ties into my last words, which aren’t actually mine but those of my Chief Executive, Mike Houlihan. Mike, in a recent talk to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, asked:
Have you experienced anything today [at the museum] that will change your attitude or behaviour?
Well, actually, we don’t even bother asking that one. Yet, this life changing area, the social impact zone, should be our battlefield; ironically, that was the original purpose of the public museum.
Food for thought, methinks.
Merry museology! I’ve got exhibitions to make in Dunedin!