Watching Notre Dame, a building deeply steeped in history, ravaged by fire was a truly terrible sight and my heart goes out to the people of France. An entire city was galvanised in shock and grief – and the world watched on in sympathy.
Such is the power of both history and culture – Notre Dame is an icon of Paris and France, and a stronghold of centuries of history. Buildings, places and taonga such as these connect us and ground us with our past, with who we are and give pause and weight to where we are going.
Objects, places and buildings which have lived through history and seen wonderful and terrible times become infused with life, meaning, power, sorrow, joy and more. The Notre Dame fire is not just a sorrow for France but, as a truly international taonga, is a sorrow for us all.
Moments like these are a reminder of the significance of the treasures we care for on behalf of the people of Hawke’s Bay, and it’s the stories behind them that give them mana, meaning and connection.
Museums hold history in their collections, and they also hold the history of our profession, with changing trends and fashions in museum practice over the years. Once it was common practice to collect objects as fine examples of a taiaha or a vase for example without gathering their history and stories. While we will still, on rarer and rarer occasions, collect good ‘examples’ of a period without knowing the deeper history, this is no longer normal practice.
Today objects are mostly collected due to the relevance of their connection to a person, time, event or place. We want to gather as much information as possible about the objects in our collection so that we can tell rich and meaningful stories in our galleries – your stories and the stories of the people who came before.
One person who is trying to reconnect history is Rose Mohi, Chair of Te Rōpū Kaiawhina Taonga (our Māori Advisory Group), who is on a personal journey around the world to find and reconnect all the carvings from a meeting house Heretaunga III. This house was commissioned by Karaitiana Takamoana and carved by master carver Hoani Tāhu. The project stopped when Karaitiana died in 1879 and subsequently the house was never completed, with the carvings now scattered around the world. Why would Rose put so much time, energy and personal effort into such a task – because history matters, because significant objects connect people, because it is the right thing to do.
- Napier Performing Arts Aria Contest. Aria preliminaries today, Saturday 20 April, followed by finals tomorrow, Easter Sunday 21 April. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 20 April 6:30-10:30pm and Sunday 21 April 7:30 – 10:30pm. Door sales only
- School Holiday Programme – Sculpture Fun. Make a fabulous sculpture from driftwood to hang in your house or garden. All materials provided, please wear old clothes. Wednesday 24 April, 10-11:30, suitable for ages 8-12. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda
- School Holiday Programme – Animation & Greenscreen. Learn how to create an animation, based on an ANZAC story. Dress up in costumes and have your photo taken in a WWI scene. Bring a memory stick so you can take your digital work home. ANZAC Day Thursday 25 April, 10-11:30, suitable for ages 7-12. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda
- The Big Bike Film Night. Adventure, love and friendship are all brought to you through the best cycling short films from around the world. There are stories to captivate, make you think, and inspire you to get out and ride. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 27 April, 7-9:15pm. Tickets available through Trybooking or at MTG
- Behind the Scenes – Archaeology Collections & the Story of Hawke’s Bay. Join us for a look at the archaeology collections and what they can tell us about the history of Hawke’s Bay. Not at MTG – meet at the steps of the British American Tobacco building, 1 Ossian Street, 10 minutes before the start of the tour. Thursday 2 May, 12-1pm. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda. Free event.
- Thomas Heatherwick lecture. Join acclaimed British lecturer Ian Swankie for an inspiring presentation about the extraordinary British designer, Thomas Heatherwick who designed the spectacular Olympic Cauldron, the iconic new London bus and Cape Town’s stunning Museum of Contemporary African Art. MTG Century Theatre, Sunday 5 May, 3-4pm. This event has been made possible by The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay in partnership with MTG Hawke’s Bay. Free event but registration is required. Bookings available through Eventfinda
Fire damage on the exterior of the cathedral with stained glass windows destroyed by the blaze. Photo / Getty
Image courtesy of Hawke’s Bay Today
Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 20 April 2019