Working with museums in the Pacific
In June I spent a week working with Te Papa’s Kaitiaki Taonga Pacific Cultures, Grace Hutton on site with museums on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. This work was supported by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and Te Papa, following liaison with the Ministry of Cultural Development Cook Islands.
Presenting to Rarotonga museums
Grace and I returned with some new insights into heritage preservation in the Pacific. Over a busy five days of skills sharing, focusing on collection preservation training, we got to know the museums and staff and we are planning to continue working together.
Staff and volunteers in the four museums, library and archives worked on preservation skills for displaying, packaging and storing artefacts, assessing condition and mitigation measures for the conditions that have led to deterioration of cultural objects in the Cook Islands.
Accessioning, labelling and recording were also covered for textiles, objects, books and documents. Site visits to all museums and archives was a highlight and participants were excited to see each other’s museums and hear about plans and common issues.
Participants visiting the Museum Cook Islands (Cook Islands Library and Museum Society)
Grace reported back on feedback from participants:
“I was very pleased about the response from all the staff from the different institutions to our workshops. In one case we were able to help to make a mount for display for a hat as well as a storage box for it. They all said they were very grateful for all the support National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) were able to provide for their storage, registration and cataloguing.”
The museums we worked with plan to form an association and continue training and group advocacy of museums. Ongoing contact and support from NSTP will enable these museums to continue to uphold good museum practice.
(l) Rarotonga workshop participants displaying completed packaging projects.(r) Participant Susan Miguel-Love with a nested axe
Rebirth in the Arts Centre in Christchurch
The Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 caused very significant damage to the buildings in the Arts Centre. The site is gradually being reopened to the public with new attractions opening that include museums and art galleries.
Teece Museum housing the Logie Collection (Canterbury University) opened in May, 2017. Photograph by Judith Taylor
The recently opened Teece Museum (Canterbury University) has a collection that spans two and a half thousand years of classical pottery made as early as 2000BC from Cyprus, Crete and Mycenae.
The collection has some of the finest classical antiquities in New Zealand including Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Near eastern artefacts. The newly redeveloped exhibition gives wider public access to UC’s James Logie Memorial Collection which has been relocated from the university to the Arts Centre. The collection is a teaching and research resource for students, academics and public. Tours are offered by appointment.
Rutherford’s Den interpretation centre display. Photograph by Judith Taylor
The new Rutherford’s Den interpretation centre, The Story of the Nuclear Atom, is also in the restored part of the Arts Centre. There are many hands on activities in the restored and refurbished spaces and new digital displays. You can visit the very small original den where the student Rutherford researched and experimented, and sit in one of the tiered lecture halls where a wide screen presentation runs.
Other news from Canterbury museums
Canterbury Museum staff are working on the opening of Quake City which will open in September. The exhibition is being relocated to the corner of Armagh and Durham Streets.
Methven Museum’s new building is nearly complete and they are busy working on research and layout for the museum displays.
At Mt Somers Museum there is renewed energy for improving and cataloguing displays. Volunteers agreed the NSTP object receipt form book will be very useful documenting past and recent donations.
The object receipt form book enables accurate records of received objects and provides three carbon copies – one for the donor, one for the museum’s records and one to remain with the object until it has been catalogued.
I missed the major flooding in Canterbury by one day, when I visited the Rakaia Huts Museum in Southbridge for the first time. This tiny one room museum at the south side mouth of the Rakaia River exhibits the history of the small community of Rakaia Huts and its associated families along with some fishing-related artefacts. It’s a great place to go fishing and enjoy some history and the special character of South Island bach settlements.
Rakaia Huts Museum. Photograph by Judith Taylor
There are twelve small museums in the Ashburton area as well as the new Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum. Staff in both institutions were busy with exhibitions and school holiday visitors when I visited.
At the Art Gallery, Manager|Curator Shirin Khosraviani showed me the annual exhibition by the Ashburton Society of Arts and a solo exhibition of new works by Christchurch artist Annabel Menzies-Joyce. Staff have a long term exhibition plan and are pleased that new requests are coming in to them from artists to exhibit there in the new spaces.
Ashburton Museum Director Tanya Robinson says she is always impressed by the range, diversity and passion of the museums in the area, and commented that the museums in the area are enjoying working with NSTP to deliver workshops and training.
NSTP is available to help and advise you as you plan and during your museum project. Our on-site and remote advisory services are free and we offer a range of programmes including grants for small museums, training workshops, exchanges, professional development grants, travel subsidies and programmes for all sizes of museums, whare taonga and public collections.