Today is our fourth Free Day in the last two years and we’re certainly hoping many of you will come and see what’s new. This Free Day is primarily to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and to share our exhibition ‘A Glimpse of India’ and two Diwali-inspired art installations. Come in under the rainbow and bells of ‘The Colour of Light’, hanging outside the front of the museum, and experience the immersive ‘Indra’s Bow’ at the far end of the building. These three new additions have been the result of discussion with members of the local Indian community, and the perfect opportunity to acknowledge one of the many cultures that make up Hawke’s Bay.
It’s a lovely coincidence that the Diwali Festival is on the same day as the Santa Parade. In recognition of this, we have Santa in the building from 10am until midday for children to visit. There’s also an opportunity for a photo in front of Santa’s sleigh, which will be parked on the forecourt for the morning before it heads off to join the parade.
As usual we have a range of activities for children: they can try their hand at making a lantern, complete our activity trail, enter the colouring competition, or do any of the other activities spread throughout many of our galleries.
Exhibitions and Free Days are just two of the many ways we engage with our communities. Earlier this week we took two taonga, Te Riukāhika and Te Waaka Perohuka, to Manutūkē Marae in Gisborne. Iwi and descendants (both Māori and Pākehā) came together to share stories, knowledge and the history of these taonga – making new connections and reconnections. These taonga will be on display at Tairāwhiti Museum, Gisborne, from 17 December in the iwi-led exhibition ‘Ko Rongowhakaata’.
Also this week the Museum Foundation had a function, with guest speaker Roy Dunningham sharing very interesting history around the evolution of the collection at the museum. In conversation with artists Martin Poppelwell and Ben Pearce, Roy teased out some current views around collections in public institutions, the relationship between artists and galleries, and more. Our relationship with local artists and the Foundation, who help grow and develop the collection, are further examples of community ties we cherish.
This month, staff have started in three new roles that are all very much focused on relationships with our communities and visitors. As mentioned in a previous article, Sarah Stroud is our new Community Programmes and Events staff member. Sarah’s now joined by Kirsten Kelly, our Visitor Engagement Coordinator, who’ll be focused on deeper understanding of our communities and how we can better engage with them, alongside ensuring we consistently deliver excellent customer service. And Charles Ropitini has started in his Māori Engagement role which, as the title suggests, is focused on furthering our relationship with Māori communities, and developing ways to better meet their expectations where we can.
We have a strong desire to continue to develop our connections within Hawke’s Bay. Ultimately we want you to feel that this is truly your place and an institution you’re proud to have as your regional museum.
Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG Hawke’s Bay
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today Saturday 26 November 2016