Okay, so the media have called me non-committal in the past week (and my friends have been ribbing me about the “real” reason why I’m single, oh ha ha indeed) – and with good reason. Consider this the official PR spin from the Te Papa Museum Building at this point in time, but the concept idea of a facility in Auckland that could potentially host items in the national collection is very interesting, surely sharing the national collection, and the expertise of the people caring for and learning from the collection is a good thing huh?
You’d think so, however a dichotomy of response has become evident in the responses of the public to the media articles.
On one hand there was the argument to legitimise the superiority of an Auckland based location based on localised population – the term “400000 vs 1400000” has been used a lot this week, versus the supremacy of all things “National” being housed in nations’ capital cities. Secondly there’s been the perennial criticism about Te Papa being an amusement park and not a “real” museum, based on peoples’ experience.
And from my last post – thanks to those of you who responded, there’s interest in our collection from kiwis who live outside of the capital – so even further impetus to be supporting the out-of-Wellington crowd!
These arguments intimate that there is a school of thought out there that a collection must be housed in a Te Papa kind-of place, and just where it should be is based on it being accessible to a large number of people.
Little has been said about the collection – the treasures that Te Papa houses, and as TV3 shared last week – we house a great percentage that don’t get to see the light of day due to space and display constraints and other things as well (sometimes people who donate to us don’t want to have their treasures displayed)… and then there are the taonga that are displayed, but not on Wellington’s waterfront.
And this is the point of today’s blogpost (I knew we’d get there eventually). Today’s question … why should Te Papa’s display be restricted to its facility on Cable Street Wellington, or to any facility named Te Papa (ie Te Papa North)?
The point I’m going to proffer is, that as long as a collection is accessible to as many people as possible – then where its housed should not matter at all, right?
One way that collections are shared with greater numbers of people than could visit Wellington’s stunning waterfront is to take collections “on-the-road”. Currently Te Papa has items from its collections being toured around the world. For instance the exhibition E Tu Ake has been repackaged as Maori, les tresors on une ame, or Their Treasures with Soul and is now wowing audiences in France. You may recall that Te Papa set up the Treaty 2 U exhibition to help educate people around New Zealand about our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.
Should we do more of this in NZ?
What do you think of pop-up-museums? This is something that Te Papa hasn’t yet discussed, but should we be thinking about this… taking bits of the collection on the road … teaming with a theme. Yes the idea is vague, but what would possible viewers like to see, small touring exhibitions open for a limited time? Would you go to one? … Its like the pop-up mall in Christchurch’s city centre, the focus there is getting the public out and enjoying their city again and supporting local retailers without relying on buildings in the interim. Well a pop-up collaboration involving Te Papa could do something similar, helping communities interact with our collection, partnering with groups all over New Zealand and telling the NZ History story, through the national collection.
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