Silver exhibition on show at MTG

Today our latest exhibition Silver: heirlooms from the collection is now open to view at MTG Hawke’s Bay. This exhibition made solely from items in the collection presents a wide array of silver objects.

Silver has been mined for centuries and turned into items that display your wealth or importance. As a malleable metal silver can be easily worked, however it’s too soft to use on its own and small amounts of other metals are added to harden the silver. In this combination silver can be used to create a vast array of shapes and designs from the simple to the very elaborate. One such item on display is an ornate epergne, used for holding flowers or fruit and set in the centre of the table, this would create an effect designed to impress visitors.

A common use of silver was in the creation of trophies, bowls, plates, ceremonial keys or trowels which were given out for various events or occasions and often supplied by a sponsoring business or individual. On display is a detailed trophy casket provided by local merchants, Neal and Close – won by the Napier Fire Brigade in 1886 and the Spit Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1887 and 1888.These would’ve been treasured items and regularly polished so they shone to best effect. With the advent of silver plating sometimes rigorous polishing meant the silver was polished away exposing the base metal underneath – which you can see with some of the trophies on display.

Silver was also commonly used for creating medals which were awarded for military service and more commonplace activities, such as winning an event at the Hawke’s Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Show or the New Zealand exhibition.

Following on from the theme of our Time for tea exhibition, silver was also a common item on the tea table for the wealthy and middle class in the form of tea caddies, teaspoons, jugs and sugar bowls. By the end of the 18th century matching silver tea services on a silver tray had become very popular. While at the dining table silver napkins, cutlery, candlesticks, serving spoons and more were a sign of the hosts wealth and standing in the community.

As a treasured item some kept their silver in the bank. During the 1931 earthquake and the destruction of the ASB bank, followed by the fires that ravaged the town, a number of silver items and other treasures were burnt and melted. Many of these silver pieces were never claimed and these sad blackened and twisted mementoes of a terrible time in Hawke’s Bays history can also be seen in this exhibition.

As fashions changed silver, the ever versatile material, was melted down and reformed into new items meeting current societal trends. During war or economic uncertainty it wasn’t uncommon for silver pieces to be converted to bullion bars or coinage.

With a huge range of glittering objects on display this exhibition creates a real feast for the eye. The team have worked hard to polish all the silver to best effect so come in and enjoy the opportunity to view these treasures from your collection.

  • Silver: heirlooms from the collection open today, Saturday 26 January. Free entry
  • Napier Hill Cemetery Tour with Social History Curator Gail Pope. Sunday 27 January. $15 Tickets available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • Last chance to view Nyree Dawn Porter: From Local Stage to Global Stardom closing tomorrow, Sunday, 27 January. Free entry
  • Last chance to view Te Aniwaniwa Nui mural by Ariki Brightwell (in the main foyer) closing tomorrow, Sunday, 27 January. Free entry
  • School Holiday Programme – Animation & Virtual Reality, Learn how to create an animation! Please bring a USB Flash Drive with you so you can take your animation home to share with the family. Tuesday, 29 January, 10am-12pm (ages 7-12). Tickets $15 available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • Measure & Draw: Architecture Plans and Drawings. See objects in our collection store related to architectural artistry including proposed designs which were never realised. Tuesday, 29 January 12-1pm. Please register through Eventfinda or at MTG to find out the location of this free programme. Spaces are limited.
  • School Holiday Programme – Upcycle in Plastic, make your own undersea creature and bird feeder to take home with you. Please bring 2 x recycled, clear (and clean) plastic fizzy bottles with you – no milk bottles. (ages 5 -12). Wednesday 30 January, 10am-12pm. Tickets $15 available through Eventfinda or at MTG
  • Don Pasquale. From the creative team who brought you 2018’s wild and wacky “The Marriage of Figaro” comes Wanderlust Opera’s lastest offering “Don Pasquale”. In this comic opera by bel canto master Donizetti, a miserly bachelor gets more than he bargained for when he enters into an arranged marriage. MTG Century Theatre, Wednesday, 30 January, 7.30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek and at MTG from one hour prior to the performance

silver

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 26 January 2019

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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

photorapher David Frost

Image caption: The 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery

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

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