Yesterday Eleanor Hall and I attended the inaugural Community Consultation Workshop held by Auckland Museum. The event brought together representatives from the various community groups that have been involved in displays and demonstrations as part of museum exhibitions over the last year. There were roughly 30 people there, representing perhaps a dozen community groups.
It was really worthwhile to go to, as we got an opportunity to talk with Jo again, and also to meet some of the other museum staff - including some of the curators and some of the people responsible for coming up with exhibition ideas. It was also great to meet some of the people that had been involved in other demonstrations at the museum, and left me wishing I'd gone along to more of them!
This is the first time that they've tried something like this, and it seemed to work well. We broke off into different discussion groups over the course of the evening to discuss our experiences working with Auckland Museum, and our ideas for what our community would like to see happen at Auckland Museum, and things that we might be interested in becoming involved with.
Lots of ideas came out for different types of exhibitions - hopefully this will result in one or two extra exhibitions that are of appeal to our group! With such a diverse group it was hard to know what to suggest that would appeal to us all, so we mentioned things like fighting kit/warfare type stuff, textiles (yes, bobbin lace got a mention!), and a few other bits and pieces.
Having the opportunity to talk directly with the people in charge was excellent as both Eleanor and I were keen advocates of encouraging the museum to get their collection online and make high quality digital images available to the public. We explained that what we really want to be able to find is detailed images, and detailed information about the various items in the collections. We also pushed for better access to stuff that's in the collections but not on display, and suggested an appointment system or perhaps days where members of the public could go and look at specific items. We also encouraged them to make use of the Auckland community in adding to the information that they have about specific items in their collection; plenty of people with an avid interest in or passion for particular areas often have a wealth of information to draw on that can contribute to better documentation of the various treasures that are held there.
The museum is going to collate the information they gathered and work out what they can do with it, then get back in touch with all the community groups involved to let us know what came of the workshop - fingers crossed there will be something in there that will appeal to all of us!