Therese Angelo, Q and A

Therese Angelo, of Lyttelton, has become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to museums. The Wigram Air Force Museum director is Museums Aotearoa board chairwoman.

What was you reaction to QBW Honours? I was really surprised to be singled out. However, I also thought it was great that museums were getting some recognition in terms of their value to New Zealand society.

What are you passionate about? My family and the Air Force Museum, closely followed by the RNZAF as an organisation, and the museum sector in general. I also love Lyttelton and its community, and walking the tracks of the Port Hills.

What displeases you in a Museum? Incorrect or outdated information and text that is too small or badly positioned so it is difficult to read.

What do you see as your Museum’s strengths? The people. The team here is great. They are able, committed, hardworking, flexible, witty and willing. They do an enormous amount of good on a very small amount of funding. Of course we also have a great story to tell and brilliant collections to tell it with.

How did the earthquake affect you? The Museum has come through really well and we are grateful not to have suffered the significant damage other cultural and heritage organisations have had inflicted on them. We have been pleased to have been able to support other museums, galleries and archives in their salvage operations and to offer whatever help we can in terms of interim storage. We have also been able to provide a safe place for visitors where families can come and take their minds off their own situations for a while, and without having to spend money.

How much has been lost culturally through the ‘Quakes? Of course a huge amount of irreplaceable built heritage has been lost which is a real tragedy. But, it appears much of the moveable cultural property is safe or has been salvaged. This is important as it may be the only tangible link to the past in some areas where many of the heritage buildings have been destroyed. For smaller organisations, the big issue will be making sure collections are kept safe in the interim until they can be re-established in the communities to which they belong.

Any thoughts on how our sector can best help? Christchurch will need help for some years to come so the sector needs to keep the offers of help open and not think it is all sorted because the first rush of emergency is over. There might be little that can be done immediately, but help will be required in the months and years ahead as organisations seek to conserve and store their collections, and rebuild their museums, galleries and exhibitions.

Anything else you’d like to say? Thanks to all of my colleagues who I have worked with over the years. This is a fantastic sector to be involved with, keep up the great work you all do.