Taking a fresh look

Last week was one hectic “digital” week at Te Papa. We were involved in NDF, Culturemondo, a workshop with Seb Chan (Powerhouse Museum) and Nina Simon, and then a seminar with Nina on the marae, arranged by National Services Te Paerangi.

Seb Chan and Nina Simon pointing the way for Te Papa

Seb Chan ready to help with our web metrics. Copyright Te Papa

The week started with the National Digital Forum Conference – around 300 people from NZ museums, libraries and archives attended (the highest number yet) over 2 days for the annual get together. There were great presentations from the keynote speakers as well as lively forum discussions about sector issues – such as fair use, geodata, digital repatriation and digital preservation. Always a great networking and catch up time, NDF now has a ning, with 118 members to date. So join in the conversation and help keep it going through the year until the next NDF.

I met Daniel Incandela from the Indianapolis Museum of Art  at Museums and the Web 2009. So it was a pleasure to see him here in NZ, inspiring us about the IMA’s huge achievements in the digital arena – projects such as Art Babble. He reminded me of the importance of building relationships with colleagues and visitors, something we sometimes overlook.  A personal highlight was showing Daniel the colossal squid, in the flesh…

Nina Simon did something never seen before at NDF – she got us up out of our seats, interacting vigorously… and hitting a very large gong. (I guess you had to be there). To end the conference on such a buzz was quite an achievement. It shows Nina’s incredible skills as a facilitator, and her talent for getting to the essence of things.

Post NDF, Seb Chan and Nina Simon lead a workshop with a group of Te Papa staff  to help us with our digital strategy. The intricacies of web data and working out what it all means is a skill we need to develop – what’s the point of doing digital stuff if you don’t know who is using it and how? Thank goodness for Google Analytics.

Nina took over for the afternoon. Her energy is infectious. She challenged us to think about engaging our audiences - how we engage with them (on the museum floor and online), the kinds of relationships we want to build with users, and what those interactions could be like.

My group ended up out of our seats (again) and onto the floor to take a fresh look at the pounamu mauri stone on the marae. It’s been handled, admired, and polished by visitors to Te Papa for more than 10 years now.  It’s a place people gather around and start talking with each other. It’s a popular spot for a photo and it’s a point in the museum visitors to Te Papa come back and visit, time after time. It’s certainly a place we could look at building on our relationships with our visitors and seeking more opportunities for participation.

Engaging over pounamu. Copyright Te Papa.

After that week my head is really full. But I feel inspired re things digital and I’m all set  for a fresh look at what we do at Te Papa.

A huge, warm thank you goes out to Seb Chan and Nina Simon for sharing their expertise with us.

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