Expo a major opportunity for museum

Otago Museum leaders plan to sign a memorandum of understanding with one of the world's largest science museums, providing a gateway for Otago science exhibits to enter the huge Chinese market.

Otago Museum Trust Board chairwoman Margaret Collins, museum chief executive Shimrath Paul and exhibitions, development and planning director Clare Wilson left New Zealand on Tuesday as part of a 20-strong Otago delegation for the World Expo celebrations in Shanghai.

On Monday the museum officials will be involved in a powhiri for the arrival of the Shanghai Museum jade cong at the New Zealand Expo Pavilion at Shanghai.

The cong is a tall, ancient vessel, which is about 5000 years old.

As part of a joint exhibition by the two museums, the cong will be installed beside the Otago Museum's greenstone hei tiki already in place at the pavilion.

On Wednesday the Otago officials will meet Shanghai Science and Technology Museum administrators for discussions expected to lead to the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

One of the Otago delegation leaders, Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin, said this week relationship-building work between the two museums and the memorandum of understanding could yield significant benefits in future.

One of the world's biggest science museums, the Chinese institution is understood to attract about a million visitors a year.

Mr Paul said this was an important chance to formalise a "growing friendship" with the Shanghai science museum.

This meant that "doors will open for Otago which to most others remain closed", he said.

Otago Museum officials said developing closer links with the Shanghai science museum could enable science exhibitions from the Otago Museum to enter the Chinese market.

Otago officials will also discuss plans to stage Otago Museum's biggest overseas exhibition at the Shanghai Museum next year.

On Tuesday and Thursday of next week, Otago Museum officials will participate in events hosted by Mr Chin for invited special guests.

At this stage Otago Museum officials will also meet Chinese museum leaders, including officials flying in from the Guangdong Science Centre and the Hong Kong Science Museum, to discuss future projects.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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