Museum team looking to engage community

New Central Stories project manager Rachel Checketts wants to get the community more involved in the facility. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
New Central Stories project manager Rachel Checketts wants to get the community more involved in the facility. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
The Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery has moved on from the days when it was thought a high-profile figure was needed at the helm and now boasts a team approach to leadership, the board president says. The appointment of Rachel Checketts (32), who started work last week in the new role of project manager, was part of the restructuring at the facility, president Malcolm Macpherson said.

''It's nothing too revolutionary but maybe a bit experimental ... there's no hierarchy, no bosses, and instead there's a team, each of whom take responsibility for a certain area but work together as a team.''

The complex opened six years ago and Brian Patrick was appointed director. He was made redundant in April last year as part of the restructuring.

''We've gone away from the notion that we need a highly paid, high-profile director, and instead we're employing a team of people, each of whom has their own strength and add a different element to the mix,'' Dr Macpherson said. The project manager role was created to focus on the business side of the museum and art gallery.

''Like all museums in New Zealand, we're looking to make more of our own funding. To expand our programmes and our activities, we need to become more entrepreneurial and generate a bit more of our own income.

''In the future, I think the public will see Central Stories taking a higher profile, with more diversity in the collections, more research assistance available, a better range of activities and it will become more relevant to the community.''

Miss Checketts has a background in teaching, has travelled overseas, and also worked at the Lakes District Museum for a year. She was ''beautifully qualified'' for the new job, he said. She attended school in Alexandra and was the head girl at Dunstan High School in 1998, so the job represented a homecoming for her.

''This job was too good an opportunity to turn down,'' Miss Checketts said.

''I think there's a huge potential for the community to be more involved in Central Stories and one of my aims is for the museum and art gallery to host more community-based exhibitions, like family treasures, for example. People could bring along pieces that are special to their family and explain why they're so special.''

She would also like to do more educational outreach work, travelling throughout the district. The museum's gift shop will be upgraded and she would like to feature Central Otago and New Zealand-made crafts, children's books by local authors and maybe food products, like preserves.

''I see this being a showcase of Central Otago.''

A school holiday programme has also been organised, with sessions on January 15,17 and 22.

- lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz