Cultural institution teamwork is the plan

Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin is keen to join forces with other museums and cultural organisations in order to seek more Government funding for regional museums and similar institutions.

He was invited to a private lunch attended by Prime Minister John Key during a visit to Dunedin last month and, with the help of National list MP Michael Woodhouse, Dr Griffin had the chance to briefly raise the funding topic.

Dr Griffin had aimed to ''plant the idea'' and to ''come back later'' to the Government next year.

In the meantime, he wanted to discuss the matter further with the heads of other Dunedin cultural institutions, including Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and the heads of the nation's other regional museums.

He noted the Otago Museum was hosting a national meeting of museum heads in Dunedin on November 7.

Dr Griffin was born in England and was involved in national museum-related administration work there before taking up his post at the Otago Museum in May.

His English experience told him significant changes tended to happen when the overall museum sector ''spoke as a group, with one voice''.

He believed in ''working together as a group'' and he noted the Otago Museum had recently rejoined the national museums body Museums Aotearoa.

The Otago Museum was home to several million artefacts and a long-term audit was under way to take digital photographs of them, to update the museum's electronic catalogue and ultimately make the information more accessible to the public.

Many of the artefacts held at the Otago Museum and other regional museums were ''of national and international importance,'' he said in an interview.

The Christchurch earthquakes had highlighted the risks posed to national treasures and from an earthquake security viewpoint, it was beneficial to New Zealand that many significant artefacts were held in different parts of the country, rather than in one place.

Government funding was already available for some capital redevelopment work at regional museums, he said.

His funding aim was a ''very long-term idea'', but he believed there was a good case for some other non-capital funding to be provided by the Government, which could include ''some of the costs'' of projects such as the Otago Museum's cataloguing and auditing work.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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