Details on conservation of museum collection sought

Otago Museum Trust Board member Associate Prof Peter Dearden is seeking clarification about how the museum is maintaining some specialised skills, including in conservation, given contracting out of some services.

The museum has not employed a conservator since its last full-time conservator left two and a-half years ago.

Several measures have since been taken to meet conservation needs, including arranging support from Sydney-based firm International Conservation Services. This enables museum staff to make specialised conservation inquiries by telephone, if required.

After Prof Dearden, a newly appointed board member, recently sought more information, museum chief executive Shimrath Paul will provide a report to a future board meeting, updating members on collection conservation arrangements and needs.

At a recent board meeting, Dr Dearden queried aspects of the contracting out of specialist services, in response to a draft financial report which stated specialist services in "collection care" were $14,669 over budget for the first 11 months of the financial year.

The report noted "this service has been contracted out and is no longer provided in-house".

Prof Dearden acknowledged he was a new member and did not wish to be critical but was seeking reassurance that certain key museum skills were being maintained for the future, he said in an interview.

Mr Paul emphasised "collection care" was, in fact, still being fully provided within the museum, despite some contracting out to meet specialised needs.

Otago Museum staff were also fully capable of assessing conservation needs, including deciding which artefacts needed more specialised attention, he said.



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