Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Museums Australasia Conference

Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of (US) Center for the Future of Museums addresses the conference.

Cultural sector on agenda for Museums Australasia Conference, Scoop, 17 May 2016

Cultural sector’s future on the agenda for inaugural Museums Australasia Conference.

Forget matching museum programmes to the school curriculum and focus instead on inspiring curiosity in kids and teaching critical thinking.

That’s one of the ideas from a keynote speaker at this week’s MA16 Museums Australasia Conference in Auckland.

Museums Aotearoa Executive Director Phillipa Tocker says MA16 – the first joint conference with Museums Australia – has brought together experts from around the world to share ideas about what is working well in the cultural sector and to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

“To collect, preserve and protect will always be at the core of what we do but the way we make our content available and the way we interact with our communities is evolving all the time.”

Tocker says advances in technology continue to be adopted to create new and exciting experiences in our museums and galleries but, interestingly, personal interactions and community involvement in exhibitions have been at the centre of some of the most innovative recent programmes.

“We have seen some very original and successful public programmes in the past year that have centred on a hands-on, community-driven approach where the museum or gallery is inviting the public in as a co-curator and asking people to bring their own ideas to the space,” says Tocker.

MA16 keynote speaker Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of American Association of Museums program and Center for the Future of Museums, says the future of the sector should be about building on its strengths and examining and challenging traditional thinking that may no longer be relevant.

For example, Merritt says, museums are very good at ‘informal learning’ which teaches the sorts of skills that are increasingly recognised as vital for our future workforce, such as curiosity, critical thinking and how to work collaboratively.

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