Science centre role draws former Otago student back

Otago Museum’s new science centre manager Hannah Rourke immerses herself in the glow of one of...
Otago Museum’s new science centre manager Hannah Rourke immerses herself in the glow of one of the museum’s exhibits. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
A mixture of Covid-19, Dunedin life and its coffee, and the allure of being the manager of New Zealand’s largest science centre was all it took to reel Hannah Rourke back to Dunedin.

For the past six years, she has been the visitor experience manager at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, in England, which contains many of Britain's national art treasures.

Now, she has returned to Dunedin to manage Otago Museum’s Tuhura Otago Community Trust Science Centre, which includes the Tropical Forest and the Perpetual Guardian Planetarium.

She said to be fair, it took very little reeling to get her to return because she was already hooked on Dunedin 15 years ago, when her parents emigrated from the United Kingdom.

During her time here, she studied classics and archaeology at the University of Otago, but returned to the United Kingdom soon after.

Ms Rourke said Otago Museum’s science centre had always been a special place for her.

"I studied classics and archaeology, so we were over here for tutorials and talks a lot. It is so great to be working here."

She said she had found many cross-overs from her last position at the Turner Contemporary Gallery and was looking forward to engaging the Otago community with science and discovery at the museum.

Above all, she was just happy to be back in Dunedin again.

"I have always loved Dunedin. It has everything you need from a big city with so much to do and lots going on, but it still has that community feel to it.

"And the coffee in Dunedin is just out of this world — so much better than in England."

A museum spokeswoman said the staff were delighted to have found Ms Rourke.

"She is extremely well-experienced, and we are lucky to have her with us."

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