Ian's Diary



Well, things continue to be interesting! Since my last diary I’ve been visiting some of the fine museums and galleries in winterless Northland, but have also been helping out with post-quake collection storage for the Centre of Contemporary Art in Christchurch.

Stories of distinction

While in Northland I visited the Kauri Museum at Matakohe. Curator Betty Nelley and Collection Manager Andrea Hemmins showed me around their remarkable museum. The Kauri Museum is an entirely self-funding enterprise, 30 km from the main road and in the middle of rural Kaipara. Under these circumstances, how have they grown to be so successful? It was like there was a tour bus convention on, rather than just another day in Matakohe!

Betty Nelley tells me the key to their success has been involving their community in everything they do, and detailed forward planning.

On the same day, I also visited the new museum at Waipu. Like the Kauri Museum, Waipu tells a clear and distinct story–- the settler history of the puritan Scots migrants who settled at Waipu.

Here’s the point. There is no shortage of museums in New Zealand, but it is often hard to tell one from another! Museums are not made interesting by conforming to a tick list of collection objects and displays (laundry mangle, telephone exchange, Victorian classroom), but by telling distinct stories that reflect the histories of their localities.

Ken Gorbey, in his well written, sage strategy for museums in Northland, writes that museums must be unique, but connected, to appeal to visitors. His useful report is available on the NSTP website here http://bit.ly/jbf5tU, and is applicable to museums and galleries through the country.

ATTTO workshop in sunny Nelson

workshop participants

Trainees and National Services Te Paerangi staff at the National Certificate in Museum Practice Museum Collection Maintenance workshop held at Isel House and Broadgreen Historic House, Nelson. An intensive 2-day workshop looking at all aspects of collection management, this ‘pioneering’ workshop was well received, and might provide a model for future ATTTO training.

Interesting stories, interesting interpretation

Shelley Arlidge of Russell Museum holding Come Back Ginger, a book written by Dorothy Butler and Lyn Kriegler about this very bird below, a rail (now extinct), which was caught by a girl’s cat in 1845.

The Rail