Collecting Community: digital initiatives for New Zealand museums

Tamara Patten, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand

Published paper: Collecting community: digital initiatives for New Zealand museums

National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) is New Zealand’s museum sector support team, based at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. NSTP works in partnership with museums, galleries and iwi (indigenous tribes), offering a range of practical and strategic programmes aimed at strengthening and building capacity in the museum sector.

Our first digital initiative, NZMuseums, gave museums all over New Zealand the ability to have a free web presence, access to a collection management system, and the ability to display even the smallest collection online. Many of the museums NSTP works with are small, volunteer-run organisations with limited budgets, so with the launch of NZMuseums, NSTP was able to meet a number of needs identified by the sector.

In an effort to promote collaboration and open data across the sector, NSTP took a further step to help grow online communities. In 2012, the online exhibition Kiwi Chicks: New Zealand Girl History/Ngā Kōhine Kiwi: He Hītori Taitamāhine o Aotearoa was developed in partnership with Girl Museum. Kiwi Chicks is a collections-driven exhibition project that explores girlhood in New Zealand during the 18th-20th centuries.

Recently NSTP developed a further collaborative online exhibition project to commemorate the Great War centenary – All That Remains: WWI objects in New Zealand museum collections/He Waihotanga Iho mai i te Pakanga Tuatahi. This project broadens the scope of the original NZMuseums site by creating opportunities for participation by non-traditional museum spaces, for example, by drawing on the collections and knowledge of iwi caring for taonga (treasured things), Returned Services Associations, schools, and more.

This presentation covers NSTP’s digital engagement, our successes and challenges, and how we have evolved from providing a place for those without the funds for a website to have a virtual presence, to enabling the creation of online exhibition and community projects.