Collections focus for museum

Otago Museum management is strengthening its focus on collections and aims to double the percentage of overall staff devoted to collection-related duties.

Museum director Dr Ian Griffin said recently that over the next few months the museum would be ''investing significantly in our collections team''.

Several new positions would be created, including a director of collections and research, a manager of conservation and a Curator Maori, he said in a recent report.

After extensive consultation with staff and museum colleagues throughout New Zealand, the museum would be reintroducing the job titles of ''curator'' and ''collection manager'' at the museum.

This would bring the museum back into line with all other New Zealand museums, he said.

For the past few years, only 11% of the Otago Museum's staff had held collections-related roles.

He planned to ''double this percentage over the next two financial years'', bringing the museum ''into line with the norm in other museums''.

''I sincerely believe that the museum has underinvested in its collection for decades, and I see it as critical that we address this issue as a matter of urgency,'' he said.

Museum officials indicated that the number of staff involved in collection-related duties would rise from six to 11, but any costs this year would be met from the existing budget.

Dr Griffin said the museum management team was also working on an extensive change programme aimed at reviewing and improving systems and processes which had been inherited, some of which were paper-based and ''extraordinarily inefficient''.

He believed significant operational efficiencies would be achieved, ''freeing up an enormous amount of staff time''.

Museum marketing and development manager Caroline Cook said one of three new collection-related posts had already been advertised.

A collection conservator would also be appointed, and overall staff changes would be made as resources permitted.

Strengthening collection-related staffing would bring many benefits, including helping deal with queries arising from a growing number of overseas researchers wishing to access the museum artefacts.

Increasing resources in this field was ''critical'' to the museum's overall goals, including better conserving, protecting and managing its collections, she said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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