By Judith Taylor, Museum Development Adviser – South Island, National Services Te Paerangi
Museum and cluster-based learning across the sector
At Museum Australasia 2016 there were many discussions about the importance of strong local and community connections to the future of museums. This emphasis was reinforced by the announcement from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage of a New Regional Culture and Heritage Fund that will include funding for buildings, whare taonga and building improvements which will house collections of demonstrated importance to a region or community. The Ministry is looking for developed projects able to demonstrate clearly that they have strong community-led support and investment.
Successful development of museum projects depends on growing your organisation’s knowledge base. The museum community in the south have been making the most of the affordable, high quality training opportunities and workshops that National Services Te Paerangi offers to build sector skills. Knowledgeable presenters from the sector, minimal charges and museum initiated requests have been helping museum staff and volunteers learn and share skills.
The Security in Museums workshop supports ServiceIQ trainees in their studies toward the NZ Certificate in Museum Practice. This workshop was recently held at Otago Museum. National Services Te Paerangi provides mentoring, extra resources and assessment for the qualification, and also contributes to unit standard development for this affordable, in the workplace, training option.
This workshop was led by Peter Fillet, Safety & Security Manager, Auckland War Memorial Museum, and Jason Yorston, Te Papa’s Head of Security. The workshop guided trainees through essential museum security processes. Peter and Jason also offered to visit museum sites following the workshop, and spent some time with staff at Olveston Historic Home.
Middlemarch Museum at Strath Taieri opted for onsite assessment for all their trainees following the workshop, and combined this with a session on museum planning. Volunteer trainees agree that the qualification is an added opportunity to develop some of the procedures that were not previously in place. Fitting study into a busy volunteer or work life can be very challenging so it is great to see the tangible benefits that training brings to museum workplaces.
Clutha Museum Cluster requested a labelling workshop to get them working on labelling collections using safe, recommended techniques. We spent the day learning and practising.
Labelling workshop participants – Noeline Milne, Tokomariro Museum; Gary Ross, South Otago Museum; Nancie Allison, Tokomariro Museum
The Southland Regional Heritage Forum was held at Bill Richardson Transport World, Invercargill, in March this year. This privately funded museum’s new facility has large conference rooms, café, shop, and 15,000 square metres of car and truck displays. Most of the trucks have had extensive restoration carried out and look bright, shiny and new, like the day they rolled off the production line.
Bill Richardson Transport World
Lisa Tolich, CEO of The Kauri Museum in Matakohe, Northland, was the keynote speaker at the Southland Heritage Forum this year. She introduced The Kauri Museum’s new strategy and many ideas for other groups to consider. Central to the new strategy is diversifying income streams and widening audiences through planned use of a variety of social media. Lisa also led a Heritage Forum Workshop, Introduction to Digital in the Heritage Workplace, which was very helpful for anyone starting a digital project or looking for new ways to connect.
As well as a captivating programme of presentations, there was a pop up museum exhibition in a main street shop, open as part of heritage week. Historic buildings and most museums were open for the weekend. This event is always very relevant to the work of all smaller and larger organisations. There is plenty of time for discussion and it is well worth attending.
Visitors in The Pop Museum, Invercargill
Travelling north from Southland, I visited museums wanting advice about projects. I spent a day with Waimate District Museum assisting with planning and with collection assessment scope.
At the Mid South Canterbury Museums group meeting presentations included a talk from Garry Mills, Head of Health and Safety at Te Papa, about the changes to health and safety in the workplace under the new Health and Safety at Work Act. This talk is available to other groups who would like to find out how they can meet their obligations – contact National Services Te Paerangi for details. Henry Broughton from Audit New Zealand gave a talk about governance in the museum sector, including the findings of their survey of larger museums’ governance arrangements.
In April, the first technicians training workshop ran in Nelson. Twelve participants from all over the South Island were guided by Callum Strong, Te Papa Object Support Preparator, and assisted by Nelson Provincial Museum staff. Over two busy days everyone learnt the basic techniques of metal mount making and supports.
Callum Strong guiding participants in a new skill area at the technicians training workshop at Nelson Provincial Museum
Participants at the technicians training workshop – Sue Asplin, Hokitika Museum; Johanna Massey, Roving Museum Officer, Southland; Judith Taylor, Museum Development Adviser National Services Te Paerangi; Richard Powell and Richard Wilson, Otago Museum. Image courtesy of Nelson Provincial Museum
A recent Expert Knowledge Exchange involved Karryn Baudet, Head of Commercial & Visitor Services, Museums Wellington, visiting Hokitika to share her knowledge and report on retail set up and merchandise with Hokitika Museum. Hokitika Museum Director, Julia Bradshaw, said ‘The report spoke to Hokitika Museum’s particular situation and the suggestions were achievable and sensible. We received a proposed layout, details of suitable sales furniture, suggested suppliers and approximate costs, and advice on products and themes that could be developed in the future. In addition, and additional to the brief, we received advice on retail margins and POS systems which were very helpful. We are very grateful to Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi and to Museums Wellington for providing this Expert Knowledge Exchange which will make a big difference to our retail operation.’
Expert Knowledge Exchanges are available to all museums at minimal cost, all year round. They are a great way to share and learn from each other when extended expert training and practical advice are needed at your museum.