Q: You work at Museums Wellington – you mean Te Papa?
A: (Smiling to self and considering getting a tee-shirt)
No, Te Papa is the national museum, we are a group of smaller museums who share the stories of Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Q: Did you follow a university pathway into your role?
A: (with gratitude to the senior management team at Museums Wellington)
No not at all, although I loved museums (and vividly recall my first wide-eyed experience as a little country kid visiting the great hall in Buckle St) I didn’t realise that there could be a career in them for me. I didn’t attend university and have arrived here through a teaching background.
Q: Can you give six key words that sum up your values?
A: (Smiling apologetically because there are 8)
inclusion relationships relevance accessibility community whanau diversity ownership
Q: And a sentence around that?
A: (you must be kidding, a sentence?)
Relationships, inclusion, diversity and access are key to everything we do – empowering communities to take ownership is critical to museums being relevant and making the move from stakeholders to whanau partnerships. (phew!)
Q: Can you identify key moments in the development of your thinking?
A: (deep breath, this is really important)
Working with the Wellington Polish Community around the 70th anniversary of the Polish Children arriving in Wellington. This was where I saw the power and richness achieved when a community programmes and exhibits their own stories. It was a moving, generous and joyful week and during it I understood the difference between programming for and programming with/by. This has informed my thinking ever since, for which I am very grateful.
Q: Who or what have influenced your practice? Top three?
A: (nervous smile – there will be at least 4)
1: FLUX, the co-operative of 18-30 year olds who run the community space at Wellington Museum. They support individuals and groups to schedule programmes and exhibitions for the space. This is making the museum relevant to an age group who are not traditionally museum goers. I have great admiration for the co-op’s dedication and commitment.
2: Arts Access Aotearoa, who have supported us to embed accessibility and a more inclusive approach across our museums.
3A: My colleagues, I work alongside exceptional colleagues whose creativity, knowledge and capacity to learn and push further is inspiring.
3B: FIHRM (Federation of International Human Rights Museums), who have informed my thinking around the role of the 21st century museum, particularly regarding contested histories and contemporary issues.
Q: It sounds a lovely job?
A: (genuinely and with a lurch of the heart)
It is. It really is.