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I am the new Collections curator at Western Bay Museum. My role is to manage the collection and improve museum practices to ensure it is preserved safely for a long time.

As part of this I’m sharing examples of best museum practices with our volunteers and public to give an insight into ‘behind the scenes’ of a museum.

This is the first in the series.  

 

What is a museum?

Here is a rather cheesy video produced by Auckland Museum which goes behind the scenes to show the work that is done there, particularly on their natural history collections.

What Is A Museum? // Behind The Scenes At Auckland Museum - YouTube

Auckland Museum, perched high a hill to show its status as a ‘temple of knowledge’ was built in the heyday of museums. Since the 1980s the ‘new museology’ has seen a change in how museums operate. Today they aim (at least) to be more inclusive places which engender meaningful cultural two-way participation.  

Here is an interesting blog from the UK about how museums are relevant in current times:

Why we need museums now more than ever - Museum Next

Some museums do not even have collections or buildings. For example the New Zealand FashionMuseum (nzfashionmuseum.org.nz) has no collection of its own. It shares collections held in other museums and private collectors. For example this Piupiu printtie dress by designer Adrienne Whitewood is in the Rotorua Museum collection. The Fashion Museum’s exhibitions are online or are travel around museums nationally.

Why do museums collect?

So, museums do not just collect objects from the past and they don’t collect for the sake of it.  There has to be another reason and that is to retain, interpret and celebrate the story behind the item. Western Bay Museum will soon have an Acquisitions policy which will clearly set out what we collect. We will collect objects from across the district, not just the Katikati region, and we will collect contemporary material, not just historical.

It is expensive to store, document and preserve collections, so they need to be focussed, with a local story to tell. This is going to be our aim from now on.

 

Rosemary Deane, Collections curator, Western Bay Museum

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32 Main Road
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New Zealand

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