On Wednesday 28th April a panel of speakers including Robert Hubble, Western Bay Museum Volunteer; Allan Sole, Chair of Western Bay Heritage Trust; David Askew, the Trust's Treasurer and Paula Gaelic, Western Bay Museum Manager presented to the community the short and long term plans for the museum’s future development, along with a recap of the past year.
Paula opened her presentation noting that entry for all Western Bay of Plenty ratepayers and residents is now free, acknowledging the museum is owned by the community, for the community.
She continued, recapping on the past year;
“Western Bay Heritage Trust employed a professional company to develop our strategic plan so our road map is clear and focused. With sponsored funds we employed professionals to rebrand Western Bay Museum making our place inclusive, inviting, modern and promotionally ready. We invested in along-term marketing campaign with print, radio and digital platforms to promote awareness, grow our audiences, supporters and visitor numbers,” says Paula.
“We have increased our visitor numbers during a year ofCOVID19 and this trend continues month on month.”
Western Bay Museum has around 70 dedicated volunteers who workup to 600 volunteer hours per month in various roles that utilise their skills and talents including front of house, teachers, parlour maids, coal range cook, historians, researchers, admin support, data entry, conservation, collection and gardeners.
“We are a tight team and our volunteers’ energy, focus and ability to adapt to change is paramount to our success, enabling us to develop and grow as a reputable institution,” says Paula.
“Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi recognises that Western Bay Museum is the most progressive museum in the country at present.”
The Western Bay Museum sits on the banks of the Uretara stream adjacent to Haiku Park in the centre of Katikati, providing a perfect stage for hands-on learning, both in the field and in the museum. The Museum provides three successful Education Programmes;
- The 1900s School Experience amplifies history in action where children discover our pioneering history. They make scones on the gridle,churn butter, launder the washing with wash boards and a wringer – all while dressed in costume. The children learn in a fun and fascinating environment.
- The Museum Experience is about opening minds to career pathways with 600 students encouraged to explore the qualifications behind thescenes in the museum, galleries and archives sector. The annual initiative is sponsored by Lions Club of Katikati.
- Treasuring our Place, Taonga o te Taiao focuses on Environmental Education with 2000 student participants annually, sponsored by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
“Modern day museums do not simply display artifacts from the past and document history; they actively seek to inform visitors about the physical world around them (geological, geographical and ecological),” says Paula.
Paula went on to share the Museum Development Plan, acknowledging the relationship built with Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi. “They have constantly provided support, guidance, expert knowledge exchange, professional development and services. Their wise council has been, and always will be, the main influencer in how we navigate the complex world within the museum sector.
“With the financial assistance of Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi we received a professional evaluation of our situation and from this came our Museum Development Plan,” says Paula.
“Behind the scenes of any reputable museum are highly qualified museum professionals,” says Paula. “There is a science and high skill set required in correctly preserving and conserving museum collections which often goes unnoticed.”
Museums Aoteroa, the overarching authority of all 500museums and galleries in Aotearoa, sets the Code of Ethics for Western Bay Museum.
Museums Aotearoa note that; “In the past three years, Western Bay Museum has achieved an enormous amount on a very small budget. It has harnessed the support of its communities, drawn upon expertise nationally, and made every cent and every hour contributed give an exponential return.”
The Museum Development Plan has a three-staged prioritised and strategic approach. “It will take time and is subject to working through logistics, processes and securing funding,” says Paula.
Stage 1: Employing a Museum Qualified Collections Curator.
The main duties of a qualified collections curator would be to reach the benchmark standards required by Museums Aotearoa.
A collections curator would make decisions on the digital tools required and implement them for; Digital Cataloguing, Digital Exhibitions and a Digital Research Library.
A collections curator would formalise and communicate the criteria for collections and acquiring items in collections.
“Our collection is in desperate need of rationalisation”,says Paula. “There is a cost to house and care for objects regardless of the value. Deaccessioning objects that no longer serve a need requires a procedure and expertise to make these decisions.”
Preventive conservation is the practice of safeguarding the items in care and achieved by practising;
- Effective control of the building’s environment
- Safe handling and techniques
- Appropriate storage
- Pest management
- Effective security
- Planning for emergencies
- Caring for Maori Taonga
- Caring for textiles and clothing
“We have submitted funding applications in order to procure a collections curator,” says Paula.
Stage 2. Storage and Workspace Facility
“We are in the process of securing the use of WBOPDC owned land on Middlebrook Drive to build our own bespoke storage and workspace facility,” says Paula.
“From the moment an object is received we are responsible for caring for that object, whether it is in storage or on display. Up to 95percent of our collection is housed in storage and the same care is given to these objects as the ones on display.
“Building a design specific, storage and workspace facility will provide much needed space for a holding office, conservation and work spaces,specific and separated storage areas for Taonga Maori, textiles and costumes. The11,000 objects that we hold in our collections warrant adequate care so they are preserved and conserved for future generations.
“Our current situation restricts our ability to provide the best care possible.”
Other building compliancy considerations include climate-controlled environments, lux level lighting requirements, insect and pest controls, safe handling and storage requirements and following the best museum practices and Code of Ethics.
“A facility of this type would not only fulfil our needs but also provide opportunities for internships, student work experience, staff and volunteer training, opening minds to the many career opportunities in the museum, galleries and archives sectors.”
Stage 3. A Cultural Centre
The return of Maori Taonga.
“Literally hundreds of objects are safeguarded at present in other museums and they cannot be returned until Western Bay Museum reaches storage and workspace compliancy and has a museums qualified collections curator to correctly care for them,” says Paula.
“There are at least 600 Maori Taonga housed in other museums that belong to Ngai te Rangi. Some carry ‘national significance’, as they travelled around the world in the Te Maori Exhibition in the 1980s. Many come from Kauri Point while others are pre-European Maori carvings from Waiau Road.
“We make no assumptions but we take our role and responsibilities seriously with regard to The Treaty of Waitangi and Maori in Museums. A strong Iwi relationship and partnership is part of our ‘Big Dreams’ philosophy.
“Western Bay Museum can do this with your support,” says Paula.
Finally, a word from Museums Aotearoa:
“At this stage of Western Bay Museum’s development journey, it is critical that every stakeholder continues, and if possible increases, their support to enable the momentum and resources to carry through these plans.”