by Judith Taylor, Museum Development Adviser | Kaiwhanake Whare Taonga
Canterbury heritage organisations are focusing on improving systems for heritage and culture protection in emergencies. This a great initiative which will have positive effects for the museum community.
Canterbury has had to focus on disaster aftermath and address shortcomings like no other New Zealand region during the past decade. The fate of heritage, artifact and collection in the immediate days following the 2011 earthquake was a concern to us all. Other countries have evolved ‘Blue Cross’ emergency services protocols or similar whereas the work here was reactive and initially uncoordinated.
In late April this year the Christchurch City Council, Heritage New Zealand, a Museum professional from Canterbury Museum, and an Emergency Management professional, facilitated and hosted a workshop titled ‘Bringing Heritage and Emergency Management Together’.
The group provided this outline of the event:
“The workshop was well attended with 67 participants from over 23 different organisations, from both the emergency management and heritage sectors represented. At the workshop, after a series of presentations, all sector representatives were asked to together explore mechanisms for collaborative response, and ways we can strengthen our capacity for protecting cultural heritage during an emergency.
The workshop outcome was to create a joint programme that improves our preparedness and promotes better cooperation between heritage and emergency response professionals. The focus was on tangible heritage and collections.
Since the workshop the participant’s contributions have been taken into consideration and an action plan implemented. Follow up local activities underway include: creating a heritage GIS layer to provide to Civil Defence and other emergency response personnel, a further workshop on Reduction and Readiness scheduled for late July 2019, further workshops planned for Response and Recovery working with Civil Defence and training to build capacity within the heritage sector.
Discussions are underway on the formation of a local Heritage Steering group to be imbedded in the Civil Defence process and be a voice for Heritage in the Emergency Operations Centre in the event of an emergency.”
National Services Te Paerangi will assist with communicating with the sector about providing contact details and GIS locations, and will support further training about disaster preparedness.
If you would like to host a workshop on Disaster Preparedness in your region, contact NSTP via email@example.com
Is the museum sector a particularly challenging place to work? It can be.
Issues sometimes stem from governance and senior management shortcomings. The not-for-profit sector attracts people with passion for the work, but they can be vulnerable at times when uninformed choices are made from above. How can we improve this and support one another to build happier, more productive workplaces?
In small communities getting enough people on board at all, recruiting board members who understand not-for-profit entities, the functions and purposes of a museum, and that the museum is for the wider community, is more of a challenge. Funding stresses, lack of effective advocacy and undeveloped relationship with councils are also factors. The line between management and governance responsibilities can become blurred.
Keeping a hold on the Museums Aotearoa Code of Ethics, principles of good governance and reviewing governance processes can help your organisation achieve its goals and look after its people.
In 2015 the Office of the Auditor-General produced a report about the effectiveness of governance arrangements in the arts, culture, and heritage sector. The report listed some key requirements for museum governance:
“Boards need to have a strong affinity with the sector; to understand and apply the separation between governance and management; draw on their wider experience to challenge and guide management; run effective meetings to time, encourage diverse views, and expect management to prepare high-quality material; develop a constructive, respectful, and professional relationship with the chief executive and their management team; develop and mentor less experienced board members to grow their knowledge and expertise; and delegate roles and responsibilities to other board members.”
There are good tools and resources available to assist with governance development and assessment:
- The He Rauemi Resource Guide from NSTP explores governance guidelines for museums and galleries. Download He Rauemi Resource Guide no 34: Governance Guidelines
- NZ Navigator is a free online self-assessment tool for organisational performance, encompassing direction, governance, leadership, people, administration, finances, communication, evaluation, and relationships. Explore NZ Navigator
- CommunityNet Aotearoa also has some useful advice about governance. Read more about governance and management on CommunityNet Aotearoa
Good environmental control and maintenance of buildings are important factors for health and safety.
Dealing with a major mould infestation has kept the Heritage NZ Category 1 listed Forrester Gallery 1882 in Oamaru closed since December. Gallery Director Jane Macknight said that the mould was found behind wallpaper during building work.
The building was found to be infested with the green, black mould Stachybotrys chartarum that can be a cause of “sick building” syndrome and is a potential cause of breathing and skin issues, eye and nasal irritation, burning and congestion, cough, wheezing, chest tightness and dyspnea. Toxigenic S chartarum can also infest air ducts and water-damaged building materials, carpets and stored paper products.
Exposure to mould is a health risk and preventive measures should be taken (respirator mask and gloves) when handling mould infected collection items and when considering accepting mouldy items into a collection.
The best way to prevent infestations in collections is to control the environment to below 65% relative humidity and under 20 degrees Celsius or a lower temperature if possible.
Where full control is not achievable keep buildings watertight, keep items away from outside walls and off the floor, allow air circulation and ventilation, use dehumidifiers if needed. Keep collection items clean and covered with loose covers or Tyvek and inspect all areas regularly.
Progress in Westland
Good news for the Hokitika Museum which has been granted $500,000 from Lottery, Environment and Heritage towards strengthening of the Carnegie Building.
Southland’s Project Ark team are passing on their knowledge of the large scale cataloguing and packaging project they are coordinating across Southland to the team up in Hokitika. Project Ark was recently featured in YouTube series My Southland Story.