English town delights in finding pieces to puzzle in MTG exhibition

There’s a wealth of knowledge held within communities and we’re grateful for the generous way you share this knowledge. Time and time again when we’ve reached out to the community for help on a subject matter or an object, you’ve willingly provided the answer. An example is when Peter Rawstrome wrote in response to one of these columns featuring Len Willoughby’s magic collection. Peter kindly told us how the items were used and more about the magic clubs and activity in Hawke’s Bay. This information was then put on the object file and, when we started working on a future exhibition that will include Len’s magician’s box, we immediately contacted Peter. Peter is now working with Gail Pope, our Curator – Social History, providing more detail and information about the magic tricks in the box. So when you come to see an exhibition with Len’s magician’s box in it, a lot of the information that will sit alongside comes straight from Peter.

This exchange of information occurs in many different ways and across all sorts of communication channels, face-to-face, letters, public media, social media and so on. This year our collection team have been producing two Facebook posts per week – one from the general collections and one from the archives. These posts provide a great way to show the collection more broadly with the community, sharing the treasures and the stories we hold. Proving quite popular these posts are regularly liked, commented on and shared with others and we’re pleased people are enjoying this interchange.

The community of knowledge is no longer limited to those within a certain radius and now spreads far and wide with the use of social media. Recently Gail was contacted by Reverend Kate Massey from Stockingford. The church community there saw information about the House of Webb: a Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville exhibition online and were fascinated to learn what happened to the Webb family. Across the other side of the world the story of the Webb family ended with their departure to New Zealand, so it’s been exciting for that community to finally learn what happened to Reverend Webb and his family. Our archives and photographs from the Webb collection are helping to fill-in some gaps for that community both about the Webb family and also about life in Stockingford, with us holding a sketch of the vicarage (which is no longer in existence).

Museums and galleries have very talented and knowledgeable staff, however they cannot know everything about all the objects we hold on your behalf. Long gone are the days when curators and museums were put on a pedestal as people and places that know “the answer” and of course there are many truths in history depending on perspective. Modern museological practice is far more about building networks of knowledge with the community, near and far, to ensure as much knowledge is captured as possible for current and future generations. Sometimes people underestimate the knowledge they hold but all the many pieces create the bigger puzzle and we’re truly grateful for your generosity in sharing with us.

St Pauls Vicarage

Image Caption: Sketch of the now non-existent St Paul’s Vicarage, Stockingford

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 22 September 2018

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