New director for Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa,
Though still officially on my summer holidays, this being the last week, I have nevertheless climbed up onto the bridge for a look round. First news in the offing is the welcome announcement that the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, have put up the white smoke and appointed their new Director/CEO, Michael Houlihan.
National Museum Wales
Since 2003, Michael Houlihan has been the director general of the National Museum Wales, which consists of seven museums across Wales. The BBC reports he has a reputation as a visionary, and in recent times, has been a strong advocate of the notion that culture in general, and museums in particular, make strong and positive contributions to the economy.
By definition, given the bi-lingual - bi-cultural nature of Welsh society, he is seen to have strong credentials in managing the institutional partnerships Te Papa has with the tangata whenua [people of the land]
The Te Papa brand
Those looking for clues as to Mr Houlihan's stance of the importance of experience in the contemporary museum landscape might care to note this quote from the BBC story cited above:
"Museums can't shy away from telling national stories, no matter how intricate or controversial they may be, " said Mr Houlihan.
"Te Papa is world famous for its innovative approach to demonstrating how culture and community memory has moulded the history and identity of New Zealand's communities."
Sounds like we have a an interesting and highly effective guy heading down this way. Welcome Mr Houlihan - I look forward to learning more about you and your plans! And by the by - I agree with you about museums - along with their sisters in the GLAM space, they are key institutions of civil society which can make extraordinary contributions to how a society functions - both culturally - socially, and economically,
And that in the upcoming severe drought on public spending, we need to be telling - and showing - this truth, over and over again.