By Sally August, North Island Museum Development Adviser | Kaiwhanake Whare Taonga, National Services Te Paerangi
Over the recent months it’s been exciting talking with a number of museums about their exhibition re-development projects. Like the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa), this is a priority area for many in our sector, especially those who have been operating for some years and are looking to take the next step, whether that is sharing more of their collections of significance, integrating more interpretative stories with interactive elements, and / or using newer technologies.
I recently spent a few hours with Grey Tuck, John Gilberthorpe, Leigh Hay, Annabelle O’Meara, Vivienne O’Reilly and Liz Poynter at Cobblestones Museum in Greytown, discussing exhibition re-development along with Craig Turvey from 3D Creative. This was a very productive hui, with dedicated, passionate and well-connected members from the Wairarapa community. National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) look forward to continuing to work with this team and many others on like projects.
Some of the friendly team at Cobblestones Museum. Photograph by Sally August, Te Papa
There are a numerous ways NSTP, Te Papa and the wider museum sector support iwi Maori communities and the wider museum and gallery sector across NZ in their development aspirations. One of the ways we can help is through the NSTP Expert Knowledge Exchange programme.
I’m always so heartened by the generosity of our sector to share and support those that don’t have a particular area of knowledge to hand.
The reality is we’re all on a development pathway, no matter how big or small you are, and how much resourcing you have available. Many of the organisations that I have worked with over the years have shown me that being under-resourced in a particular way doesn’t mean you’re ‘poor’ and can’t achieve great results. Often it requires a positive ‘can do’ attitude, mixed with a varying balance of resources, networks and time. But it’s also very important to have a clear purpose and development plan laid out, that hopefully comes from consultation with communities of interest, key stakeholders, and for your project team to have a good sense of your strengths and gaps.
You can often seek out the expertise you need to achieve your project aspirations, and if you can’t find that expertise, perhaps we can. For smaller teams where projects appear bigger than Ben Hur it can be helpful to get in some external support to undertake a review and provide some recommendations, and perhaps consider implementing larger projects in a phased approach.
Jana Uhlirova, Curator Manager at the Central Hawkes Bay Settlers Museum in Waipawa is also working towards toward a large exhibition later this year. Photograph by Sally August, Te Papa
If you’re looking to share your skills and expertise with the wider sector and your organisation is receptive to this development opportunity we’d really like to hear from you.
Exhibition development resources
If your team is working towards an exhibition development project like Cobblestones and Central Hawkes Bay Settlers Museum and you’d like a see what else might be possible, the below resources may be of interest:
- Read our resources on exhibition development
- Explore all our resources in the museum sector how-to guides
- Read our guides on caring for taonga
- Make your exhibition accessible to all visitors with the Art Access Aotearoa Arts for All resources
The Service IQ New Zealand Certificate in Museum Practice also includes unit standards on exhibitions, public programming and touring.
Find out more about the New Zealand Certificate in Museum Practice
Borrowing for your exhibition
Loans from Te Papa’s collection are available for exhibitions or research. The Te Papa Loans and Acquisitions team is a small team of three: Sabine Schulte, Erin McFarlane and Amy Cosgrove.
Te Papa Loans and Acquisitions team (l-r) Sabine Schulte, Erin McFarlane and Amy Cosgrove. Photograph Rachael Hockridge, Te Papa
Loans and Acquisitions Adviser, Amy Cosgrove recently shared details of the process of borrowing from iwi for the Rongowhakaata exhibition on the Te Papa blog.
There are also insights into conserving and displaying fragile taonga in the following behind-the-scenes blog posts about the Rongowhakaata exhibition, also on the Te Papa blog:
- Conserving Rongowhakaata’s fragile ‘Iron Man’ by Nirmala Balram, Conservator Ethnographic Objects & Sculpture
- How a museum mount maker secures the nation’s treasures by Callum Strong, Object Support Preparator – Mountmaking
Watch this behind-the-scenes video on how the hīnaki was mounted for this exhibition:
Tapping into developed exhibitions across New Zealand
Hosting a touring exhibition is another option to consider, and there are lots of options which might suit your museum or gallery space.
Te Papa has a number of exhibitions on tour across New Zealand, and further afield.
Find out more about Te Papa Touring exhibitions
You can also find out what touring exhibitions are currently available in New Zealand from the Touring Exhibitions Network New Zealand (TENNZ).
The next TENNZ meeting will be 2-4pm on Sunday 20 May 2018, just before the MA18 Conference in Christchurch. The Current Chair of TENNZ is Steven Fox, General Manager Museum Experience at MOTAT.
NSTP Grant Programme – end of financial year approaching
Our grants programme has just closed for the financial year and will open again for Helping Hand, Travel Subsidy and Professional Development Grants on 1 July 2018.
In the last few weeks, I’ve found myself providing advice, discussing museum projects and best alignment to criteria, and helping museums to progress there grants through to payment. For those that have had a grant approved in this financial year and have yet to receive the funds, I’d highly recommend contacting one of the NSTP team to check it is on track for payment.
Find out more about our grants programme and apply
Part of the extended NSTP whanau saying farewell to former colleague Tamara Patten, now Director of the Katherine Mansfield House and Garden in Wellington. Photo courtesy of Anaru Rondon
For all museum, gallery, iwi / hapu and care or taonga queries please feel free to reach out to one of our team via our freephone helpline 0508 NSTP HELP (0508 678 743) or email inbox firstname.lastname@example.org.
The team and I look forward to hearing from you and seeing some of you at the upcoming MA18 Conference and Kahui Kaitiaki in Christchurch.
Nga mihi, na
Kaiwhanake Whare Taonga – North Island Museum Development Advisor