Q&A, Bridget Wellwood

What gets you up in the morning?

It’s pretty hard getting up in the mornings! I’m often up most of the nightwriting essays or reading books, so I enjoy my lie-ins especially on freezing cold Eketahuna mornings, and I’m not just snoozing, it’s more reading. Noone said you can’t do extramural studies from bed, so if I can swing it I stay cosy, and do a couple of hours studying from under the duvet. Craving for coffee usually kicks in about ten.

Tell us about an inspiring museum or gallery experience?

Working at Te Papa was a real blast. I used to drive into the car park smiling away to myself, thinking wow! Here I am working at the National Museum, alongside so many fabulous, creative, intelligent people. It really was inspiring, and it gave me the motivation and the confidence to go back to university and get on with my own education.

What is your career highlight?

I hope I haven’t had it already! Still going up Success Mountain.

Tell us your pet museum or gallery displeasure?

Silence! I hate museums where no-one says a word, there’s no music, no sound at all except maybe a pin dropping. Sound effects can be so effective in bringing objects to life, the clip clop of horses, birds tweeting, old soundtracks playing, anything is better than the maudlin silence that fills dusty galleries and unloved museums. At least whistle a happy tune.

What is something about you not many people know?

I was whistling even before I could talk.         

What would you do if you were Minister of Arts and Culture?

Remember all the people who struggle to make a living in the arts and cultural sector – try and spread the coffers around more equitably so there’s more incentive and opportunity for participation in the GLAM sector. Life is not so glam for underpaid workers, struggling artists, part-time musicians or actors, or the hundreds of museum volunteers for instance, who work hard for under-resourced, not-for-profit organisations that perennially have to rely on the smell of an oily rag to survive. As Minister, I would campaign like mad for more investment in the arts and cultural sector, but ensure that plenty of that went to grassroots organisations, communities, schools, remember the little guys!

What do you see as your museum’s strengths?

Eketahuna and District Early Settlers Museum is a lot like so many little small town museums – wonderful but terrible. The real strength of the museum lies in the people, the community spirit, the generosity and philanthropy that have kept the place going, against all odds. Today, the new team are faced with the same old challenges; hopefully it will be our ability to think outside the square and come up with creative solutions to not only keep the wolf from the door, but to keep people interested, having fun and learning.

Bridget Wellwood is Chair Eketahuna and Districts Early Settlers Museum Committee/ Full-time PGDIP Museum Studies student at Massey University.