Museum lives by feedback from visitors

Visitor information and feedback plays a very important part role in informing what we do. We want to know as much as possible about our visitors (and non-visitors) so we know where we are performing well and where there’s further opportunity to do even better.

Knowing what our visitors think of their museum experience at MTG Hawke’s Bay is an important piece of information. In order to capture some of this data we have a regular visitor survey available for people to complete as they leave the museum and we partake in the annual country-wide Museums Aotearoa survey each year. We actively encourage visitors to complete these surveys and also take the opportunity to engage with people about their experience when they make purchases at the museum shop.

Our survey asks people to rate their experience, whether they would recommend the museum to others and any comments they want to make. Over the last year 94% of people who completed our survey rated the quality of their museum experience as positive (20%) or very positive (75%), and the vast majority would recommend the museum to a friend. This is wonderful and encouraging feedback to receive and tells us that people visiting the museum are, in the main, enjoying and valuing the experience.

It’s not just through surveys that people give us feedback – people contact us in person, through social media, in writing or talk to me when I’m in town, at the movies, in shops, etc to provide a mixture of encouragement, comments, suggestions and so on. I love getting feedback (good or bad) as it helps inform my understanding of how we’re performing for the community and what we should do more or less of and other opportunities we may not have thought of ourselves.

So what do we know from this feedback? Well our visitors love the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery and associated Survivors’ Stories film by Gaylene Preston. We’ve had lots of positive feedback about our friendly staff and great customer service and the most popular temporary exhibition last year was “Bottled Ocean 2118” by George Nuku. The activities for children and the quality of design and presentation of our galleries have also been appreciated by our visitors and this, coupled with winning a Museums Aotearoa Award, tells us we are doing really well in this field. Free entry continues to be a feature in our feedback with people enjoying and appreciating the opportunity to engage with arts and culture in their community at no cost, and we also get positive feedback about the range and variety of exhibitions.

Themes are trickier to identify in the areas people would like improved but some which are mentioned include wanting the museum to be bigger, wanting a café, and needing directional signage in the House of Webb: a Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville. Other bits of feedback changed during the course of the year – at the start of the year people commented on wanting more interactives and by the end of the year people were commenting that they love the amount of interactives around the museum.

A challenge for all museums and the next step for us is to understand more about who isn’t coming to the museum and why. In the meantime we’ll continue to work hard to deliver a museum Hawke’s Bay can be proud of and ensure we keep building upon the things visitors are already telling us they love.

  • PPV Growing Opera Stars. Join Polish soprano Anna Patalong and Pavarotti-trained Kiwi tenor Shaun Dixon for an evening of solos, duets and trios with gifted PPV students, both current and graduates. Century Theatre, Tonight – Saturday, 19 January at 7.30pm. $44.50 Tickets can be purchased from Ticketek or at MTG one hour prior to performance
  • School Holiday Programme – Folk Art, learn about folk art and rock paintings while producing an artwork to take home (ages 5-12). All materials provided, please wear old clothes. Tuesday, 22 January, 10am-12pm. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • School Holiday Programme – Mosaics with Maxine, produce a simple mosaic tile for your garden or bedroom (ages 7-12). All materials provided. Wednesday 23 January, 10am-12pm. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • Napier Hill Cemetery Tour with Social History Curator Gail Pope. Sunday 27 January. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • Last chance to see – exhibition “Nyree Dawn Porter: From Local Stage to Global Stardom” and our front foyer mural “Te Aniwaniwa Nui” both close on Sunday 27 January.
  • School Holiday Programme – Animation & Virtual Reality, lean how to create your own animation (ages 7-12). Please bring a USB Flash Drive with you to take your animation home and share with friends and family. Tuesday, 29 January, 10am-12pm. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG

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Image caption: The 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 19 January 2019

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Museum is rich source of activity and inspiration

Over the last few months we’ve worked hard to develop a series of interesting and engaging activities at the museum, many of which are free. These include monthly art lessons, gallery tours, behind the scene tours, floor talks and more. Some of the activities we offer are clearly visible such as gallery tours, floor talks, and interactives in gallery or public spaces. But much of our programming happens ‘out of sight’ with evening art classes, tours off-site at the cemetery and at the off-site collection store.

As we develop programmes and activities we ensure we provide things for different ages, groups and interests. We also aim for programmes that link to exhibitions, collections and the broader subject of general arts and culture. Activities for children include the Drop-In-Zone, activity sheets for use in the galleries and our holiday programmes. Other offerings are aimed at a more adult audience such as evening art classes and collection storage tours, but many work for a variety of ages – tours, interactives in gallery spaces, films and floor talks. We also have other activities and events that are designed in collaboration with special interest groups such as Iwi, Friends of the Museum, archaeologists, and so on.

We’ve some more exciting ‘hands on’ school holiday programmes on offer this month. There’ll be folk art rock painting, mosaic making and upcycling plastic, as well as animation and virtual reality experiences. We hope children enjoyed the previous holiday programmes and we welcome feedback and ideas for future programme development.

Much of the programme we’ve developed will be on-going such as gallery and off-site tours with changing content depending on exhibitions, community events or milestones and other factors. Given the popularity of uptake we’ve had we can see people are enjoying these and undoubtedly wanting more.

Over the next three months we cover a broad range of topics with our programmes including; architecture, sharks, art, digital animation, upcycling, art deco and more. Your museum is a rich source of activity and inspiration so we hope you’ll come and enjoy some of the programmes we have on offer as well as our exhibitions. Keep an eye on our website for current and upcoming events.

If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to experience one of our cemetery tours I can highly recommend them. Gail Pope, Social History Curator, takes people on a two-hour tour through the beautiful setting of the historic cemetery on Napier Hill, sharing a wealth of knowledge about the people who rest there. I’ve done these tours before and intend to do another one this year – every time I learn something new!

  • Last chance to view the “FAFSWAG: code switch” exhibition which closes this Sunday, 13 January. Free entry
  • Public Art Guided Tour with Art Curator, Jess Mio. Thursday, 17 January at 12pm, meet in the MTG front foyer. Free event, all welcome.
  • PPV Growing Opera Stars. Join Polish soprano Anna Patalong and Pavarotti-trained Kiwi tenor Shaun Dixon for an evening of solos, duets and trios with gifted PPV students, both current and graduates. Century Theatre, Saturday, 19 January at 7.30pm. $44.50 Tickets can be purchased from Ticketek or at MTG one hour prior to performance
  • School Holiday Programme – Folk Art, learn about folk art and rock paintings while producing an artwork to take home (ages 5-12). All materials provided, please wear old clothes. Tuesday, 22 January, 10am-12pm. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • School Holiday Programme – Mosaics with Maxine, produce a simple mosaic tile for your garden or bedroom (ages 7-12). All materials provided. Wednesday 23 January, 10am-12pm. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • Napier Hill Cemetery Tour with Social History Curator Gail Pope. Sunday 27 January. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG

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Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 12 January 2019

The year ahead

After another great year in 2018 there’s still lots to do in the year ahead and, coming back from the holiday break, I’m hoping to hit the ground running to ensure 2019 is even better. We plan to provide a variety of fun, light, challenging and interesting exhibitions, including one looking at cloaks in the collection and another sharing the taonga Maori treasures we hold – taonga connected with significant events, people or moments in time. We’ll be showing paintings and silverware from the collection, and working on an interactive exhibition targeted at our younger audience. There’ll be other displays and exhibitions throughout the year as well but these give a taste of what’s to come.

Other plans include continuing to develop our retail space and offering, getting more of the collection online, and focusing on public programmes for the year ahead. Our aim is to ensure there’s something relevant happening at the museum on a regular basis and always lots to get involved with. We’ll continue to hold the New Zealand International Film Festival in the Century Theatre, and participate in both the Art Deco Festival and the Arts Festival, including supporting White Night, which we hope is now a permanent feature of the Arts Festival.

This year marks the 250th anniversary of two cultures meeting for the first time here in Aotearoa. A subject that’s far more complex that it may seem on the surface. The arrival of Cook in New Zealand was not without trauma and bloodshed and the long-lasting impacts of the arrival of Europeans and many broken promises can still be felt today. We’re working on our plans for what we’ll do to mark this anniversary.

I’m hoping to get out and about in the region more this year, to touch base and better understand what you want from your museum. As I’m coming up to my 4th anniversary at MTG Hawke’s Bay I’m aware of just how much work the team have put in during that time and just how much the museum has changed.

We’ve an amazing team of people at the museum and they continue to impress every day with their passion, dedication, professionalism and commitment to quality. From our educators, to the collections team, those who manage the building, our fabulous Customer Service staff, events, retail, Curators and exhibition team – it would seem there’s nothing this group cannot do and I feel incredibly lucky to be working with them.

Whatever the year brings there’ll always be plenty going on at the museum – exhibitions to explore, events in the theatre, and programmes and activities in the building – we hope to see you and your family enjoying your museum throughout the year.

  • Twilight Art Class, enjoy classes in the gallery exploring various mediums used by the Webb family throughout their journeys. This session focuses on watercolour. Tuesday 8 January, 6-8pm. $35 per class ($30 for friends of MTG). Please register to secure a place 06 835 7781.
  • Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation – NZ Singing School Classics, 11 January, 7.30pm in the Century Theatre. Tickets available through Ticketek – ticketek.co.nz

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 5 January 2019

Year of art achievements and change

Looking back on 2018 I can’t help but feel a sense of awe and pride in what the team at MTG Hawke’s Bay have achieved. It’s been another incredibly busy year with some big achievements and changes along the way.

The team won the Exhibition Excellence – Taonga Māori Award from Museums Aotearoa for our “He Manu Tioriori” exhibition, exploring 100 years of Ngāti Kahungunu’s love affair with music. This exhibition was popular with visitors and locals alike, showcasing the rich talent within Ngāti Kahungunu for singing, composing, song writing, performing and more.

We welcomed in our library colleagues, who reopened to the public from the MTG building early in the year. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for both staff and public but everything seems to have settled down and is working really well. With the arrival of the library we were able to remove the entry fee to the museum, leading to a dramatic rise in visitor numbers, build an access ramp to the Century Theatre Foyer and establish wifi in the building.

Another significant event was signing a contract with Te Papa to provide the digital education programme Raranga Matihiko. Working in partnership with Te Papa, Auckland Museum and Waitangi National Trust, we provide digital education targeted towards lower decile schools in the region. This programme aims to ensure all students have access to digital technology and the opportunity to gain digital literacy skills within a museum environment – rich with their heritage and stories.

Our regular education programme benefited from the ongoing support of Napier Port. And this year we welcomed new sponsors; the Masonic Hotel and Esk Valley Wines who provide annual sponsorship for accommodation and wine. The New Zealand Institute of Architects, Napier Branch, provided one-off sponsorship towards the development of our latest exhibition “The Architectural Legacy of J.A. Louis Hay”. We’re very appreciative of the support we receive from our sponsors, which all goes toward providing the best possible museum experience for the region.

The end of year highlight was the unveiling of IVY our beautiful new sculpture at the entranceway to the museum. This stunning sculpture was the product of incredible generosity from the Reydan and Roger Weiss Trust and we’re very privileged to have an artwork of this calibre not only in our region but on our very doorstep.

All this was achieved by the amazing team here, alongside fare-welling and welcoming staff, hosting film festivals and other events, while at the same time producing a simply stunning array of outstanding exhibitions. We were delighted by the popularity of the Nyree Dawn Porter exhibition, while the overall stand out exhibition for our visitors seems to have been “George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118” and the mesmerising effect George has produced with discarded plastic – creating a beautiful immersive experience.
We wouldn’t be able to do half the things we do without the enduring support of many, many people. To our Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust Board members, the Hawke’s Bay Museums Foundation, Te Rōpū Kaiawhina Taonga, MTG volunteers, patrons, sponsors and friends – thank you from the bottom of my heart for your ongoing support and encouragement. To all those who have visited throughout the year and for your overwhelmingly positive feedback, thank you. We hope to continue to delight, challenge and surprise you in the year ahead.

  • Summer Cycling Carnival – The Cycle Chic Film Tour, a captivating selection of short cycling films to inspire, encourage and celebrate women who love to bike, Friday 4 January, 7:30pm. Tickets available at MTG or online at bigbikefilmnight.nz
  • Twilight Art Class, enjoy classes in the gallery exploring various mediums used by the Webb family throughout their journeys. This session focuses on watercolour. Tuesday 8 January, 6-8pm. $35 per class ($30 for friends of MTG). Please register to secure a place 06 835 7781.
  • Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation – NZ Singing School Classics, 11 January, 7.30pm in the Century Theatre. Tickets available through Ticketek – ticketek.co.nz

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Image Caption: Detail from the ‘George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118’ exhibition

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 29 December 2018

 

House of Webb celebrates NZ journey

On 17 July 1884, Reverend Anthony Webb, with his wife Patty and their family of eleven, arrived in Napier from Stockingford, England after an eight-week voyage. Once ashore, they were greeted by Bishop Stuart of the Waiapu Diocese who offered Anthony the inaugural clergyman’s position at the Church of Epiphany, Ormondville. The ministry included performing services in poorer settlements and supporting incumbants as far afield as Te Aute, Waipawa and Wairoa. Anthony accepted.

Currently on display at MTG Hawke’s Bay is the “House of Webb: a Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville” exhibition. The Webb family story is closely connected to the Church of Epiphany and the first Christmas service held within its walls.

On Sunday 20 January 2019, the Church of Epiphany in Ormondville celebrates its 135th anniversary. Under Heritage New Zealand, the church has a Category 2 listing – signifying it’s a “historic place of historical or cultural significance or value”.

Built in totara and matai the church, when the Webb arrived the church was a modest unlined building, with plain windows and a steep roof. It had few furnishings other than eight chairs and a small table; there was no provision for lighting or heating and during high winds, for which the area was renowned, the walls moved drastically in and out. When the family arrived ‘tree trunks’ in all stages of decay, surrounded the village and church.

For both the family and church 1884 was significant: Reverend Webb performed the inaugural Christmas service within the church walls, whilst he and his family experienced a New Zealand Christmas.

As the day loomed closer Anthony, beset with homesickness and suffering from grief at the loss of his beloved son Willie earlier that year, wrote that he was “not much inclined for Xmas keeping this year it seems all so strange and unreal”.

The climate was an obvious contrast during this Yule-tide period. Patty commented in a letter to family: “I suppose you are all rejoicing in warm fires, evergreens & winter fruits – whilst we are sitting with open windows, roses & honey-suckles blooming. We are having gooseberry tarts and new potatoes & our peas and beans & all summer vegetables are just coming on”.

The day before Christmas, the family, with help from the schoolmaster’s wife, decorated the church. The windows ledges were laced with an evergreen creeper and the walls clothed with tree fern fronds in an arrangement “something like Prince of Wales feathers”.  Anthony was amazed at the size of the fronds, which reached from floor to ceiling and judged them “very handsome”. Patty made several wreathes using roses, honeysuckle and variegated foxgloves: overall the decorations were effective, simple and very pretty.  To accompany the choir, who had been practising for days, Anthony borrowed the Wesleyan Chapel’s harmonium.

On Christmas Eve, the children hung up their stockings in readiness for the morning, but as Patty regretfully revelled, “we had not much to put in them. Papa put a penny in each and a few odds and ends”.

The Christmas morning church service was very successful, with over a hundred people present. In England, it was customary for the Vicar to give gifts to the poor, however in Ormondville the reverse happened: at the end of the service a great many presents were gifted to the family including fresh vegetables, gooseberries and beautiful strawberries, “a nice mug of clotted cream” and “a large slab of butter”. When thanked, the locals replied they were “only too pleased to send them as they were so thankful to have a clergyman settled among them”.

Because it was so hot in the afternoon, a game of tennis was out of the question: instead, the family packed up a light picnic and explored the bush in search of a stream. In the coolness of the evening, a competitive game of tennis finished off what was a uniquely New Zealand Christmas.

On behalf of Laura and staff at the Museum, I wish you all a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Year.

  • Te Tiriti Ora: Our Living Treaty display opens to the public today, Saturday 22 December
  • We will be closed Christmas Day, 25 December, and re-open at 9:30am on Boxing Day, 26 December
  • Summer Cycling Carnival – The Cycle Chic Film Tour, a captivating selection of short cycling films to inspire, encourage and celebrate women who love to bike, Friday 4 January, 7:30pm. Tickets available at MTG or online at bigbikefilmnight.nz

22 Dec 2018 image

Image Caption: Christmas card in the Webb collection (date unknown)

Gail Pope, Curator – Social History, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 22 December 2018

Makeover for retail shop

Great things are happening at the MTG Hawke’s Bay store. Having recently appointed Lisa Varga to the role of Customer Services Team Leader there’s been a dramatic change in our shop. Lisa was previously in charge of retail at Auckland Museum and in the short time she’s been with us Lisa has brought her wealth of retail knowledge to bear.

I’ve certainly bought a significant portion of my Christmas shopping from the museum this year including several very reasonably priced books, beautiful handcrafted wooden platters, kitsets, compacts and so on. There’s a huge range of books available covering a wide range of topics; architecture, ecology, design, New Zealand history and more. One of the books I’ve bought for my summer reading is “Speeches That Shaped New Zealand 1814-1956” by Hugh Templeton, Ian Templeton and Josh Easby – amazing value for only $19.99.

Our expanded range of te reo books for children is a great way to encourage the little ones started on their te reo journey. We’ve several new jewellery lines available from local artists and makers including Twigg, Addie Wainohu and Clarence Collier. There’s a beautiful selection of handcrafted wooden platters in different woods and sizes from MZ Design – perfect for the person who has everything and, as these come in flat boxes easy for packing in a suitcase or sending overseas, great as a gift for international family and friends.

You’ll find many items perfect for stocking stuffers from beautiful compacts, note books and pads, brooches, socks and scarves, to beautiful cloths for glass lens. Also going in the stockings at my house are some fun kitsets of New Zealand birds, tuatara and tiki. For those of you on a tight budget there are some incredible bargains to be found in the shop including $10.00 tee-shirts.

Our products generally align in some way with our core business – reflecting the experiences you have in the galleries, referencing the collections, or aligned with arts and culture. Some of our new products include Gordon Walters and Dick Frizzel prints and branded products which link to artists held in our collection. We have the “Louis Hay Architecture” book which sits nicely alongside our latest exhibition “The Architectural Legacy of J.A. Louis Hay”.  

Being a museum and art gallery it’s important we maintain a level of quality to our shop offering in keeping with our high quality brand. Trying to get the balance right in retail can be tricky. Catering for international tourists means having light, easy to pack items which reflect their experiences of the country. New Zealand travellers want items from the region and something different from what they can get at home, while for our locals we need to provide high quality items for gifts or personal purchase.

Lisa’s done a fabulous job in maintaining quality, while supporting local makers and providing reasonably priced product as well – there really is something for everyone in our newly-stocked shop.

  • Public Art Guided Tour with Art Curator, Jess Mio. Thursday, 20 December at midday, meet in the MTG front foyer. Free event, all welcome.
  • Late night shopping at the Museum. Enjoying a glass of Esk Valley wine with some nibbles and a 10% discount while you shop for those last-minute presents. Thursday, 20 December, 5:30 – 7pm
  • Late night at Napier Library to stock up on your summer reading. Thursday, 20 December, 5:30 – 7pm. All welcome!
  • Te Tiriti Ora – our living treaty display opens to the public on Saturday 22 December.

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Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 15 December 2018

Exhibition of taonga opens in Waipawa

In one of New Zealand’s oldest inland towns, Waipawa, founded in 1860, stands the historic BNZ building (circa 1887), which is now the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum. The museum has recently opened its exhibition of local taonga Maori “Ngā Taonga o Tamatea – Te Hokinga Mai: The Treasures of Tamatea – The Returning”. Dedicated to artefacts from Central Hawke’s Bay, the aim is to build relationships between the museum, local iwi and the Taiwhenua. The Director of MTG, Laura Vodanovich, and I attended the opening last Saturday.

The crowd were ushered in at 5.30am to follow the Tohunga chanting his prayers, evoking the protection of the gods of old. Listening, looking, walking past the exhibits: a moa-hunter toki found in Putere Creek Porangahau, and a koruru from the top of the meeting house Te Poho o Kahungunu which stood at Porangahau in a time far extinct. These and other valuable objects, hei tiki, taiaha, patu, all on exhibition:a link to the past of Central Hawke’s Bay.

Following back outside, protocol was adhered to with tangata whenua welcoming manuhiri and thanking those who worked on the exhibition. Dr Roger Maaka, Chairperson of the Kahungunu Tamatea Taiwhenua was the first to address everyone. In his welcome he spoke of the importance of this exhibition to the local people of Central Hawke’s Bay. As the first exhibition of its type at the CHB Settlers Museum, Roger noted it was just a start and would continue and build into the future. He applauded Jana Uhlirova, Curator and Manager of the CHB Settlers Museum, for her initiative and tenacity in producing this exhibition, which gathered taonga from MTG Hawke’s Bay, Te Papa Tongarewa, and from private collections. Her worship the Mayor Alex Walker also spoke on the importance of such an exhibition, the bridging of connections between local iwi, the community, the museum, and the Council. Rangitane Don Tipene also spoke on his voluntary work alongside Jana, identifying and collecting artifacts, mounting them for display and developing the labels to sit alongside each item. Don also worked on ensuring the correct information was available when showing groups through the exhibition and has been busy with school groups since. It is his way of giving from a hapū tangata whenua perspective and ensuring knowledge is passed on to future generations.

A role of MTG Hawke’s Bay Napier is to conserve, protect, and document the more than 6500 taonga Māori that are in the collection. A substantial collection for any museum let alone a provincial museum, and very valuable. This involves a duty to share with other museums in Aotearoa, to help exhibit these taonga Māori for iwi of all, and collaborate closely with other Hawke’s Bay museums such as the CHB Settlers Museum and their “Nga Taonga o Tamatea – Te Hokinga Mai” exhibition, showing until 1st March 2019. Mauriora kia tātau, tātau us.

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  • The Architectural Legacy of J. A. Louis Hay exhibition opens to the public today. Saturday, 8 December.
  • Behind the Scenes Tour: Feeling Festive. From historic Christmas greeting cards to paintings of sunny summer days, celebrate the festive season with a look at the collection. Tuesday, 11 December, 12pm. Free event. Spaces are limited, please register at eventfinda.
  • Digital Technologies & Computer Science Teacher Professional Learning Event. Free one-day interactive workshop for Y9 & 10 Teachers of any discipline. Wednesday, 12 December, 9.30am – 2.30pm. Limited to 30 teachers, please contact

    Helena.Botes@tepapa.govt.nz if you have any questions or would like to register.

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Te Hira Henderson, Curator Taonga Māori, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 8 December 2018