The purpose of this paper is to examine the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa as an early example of a curatorial institution that illustrates the process and impact of the ‘museum experience’ concept, which has been influenced by what is now thought of as creative industries rhetoric. Drawing on Getting to Our Place, a documentary about the Te Papa project, the paper serves as a case study of the pressures of introducing fundamental change in New Zealand’s museum sector.
本文的目的是探讨新西兰的Te Papa Tongarewa博物馆作为策展机构来说明了“体验馆”的概念,that illustrates the process and impact of the ‘museum experience’ concept。借鉴这个地方，一个关于Te Papa项目的纪录片，本文作为新西兰的博物馆根本变化的个案研究。
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Model of a full-sized blue whale heart, fun for kids and adventurous adults alike. (Photo credit: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa)
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_New_Zealand_Te_Papa_Tongarewa
A full-size skeleton of a sperm whale is the showstopper at Whales Tohora (Photo credit: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa)
In the 1980s, the museum sector began facing changes that promoted a shift from conservation to commercialisation (Gilmore & Rentschler, 2002; Rentschler, 1998). This shift was based on the growing primacy of the ‘museum experience’ (Alexander, 1999; Rowley, 1999; Twitchell, 2004), which embodies a shift from the traditional museum visit involving static exhibits and passive observation, to one that features multi-media and interactive participation (Rowley, 1999). Much of the recent scholarship regarding the museum experience has been driven by the ‘creative industries’ concept, which espouses the idea of using art, culture and creativity to stimulate economic growth and generate wealth (Florida, 2004; Hartley, 2005). In many countries around the world, museums and galleries are now governed by creative industries policies (Flew & Cunningham, 2010). However, before such policies had become commonplace around the globe (Flew & Cunningham, 2010), in New Zealand a museum development took place that epitomised the concept the ‘museum experience’. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa1 as an early example of a curatorial institution that illustrates the process and impact of the museum experience concept, which has been influenced by what is now thought of as creative industries rhetoric.
Traditionally, museums were predominantly custodial institutions, with the purposes of both cultural preservation and also education (Harrison & Shaw, 2004; Gilmore & Rentschler, 2002; Rentschler, 1998). During the 1980s, however, changes to the public sector resulted in the ‘professionalisation’ of museum management and the introduction of a managerial ethos, which brought with it the “marketing orientation of museums” (Rentschler, 1998, p. 94; Gilmore & Rentschler, 2002). These changes created a new environment for museums, in which funders called for “greater accountability” and the museum focus necessarily shifted to marketing to targeted audiences (Gilmore & Rentschler, 2002). From the mid-1990s onward, though, the curatorial sector changed again, when marketisation moved towards entrepreneurialism (Alexander, 1999; Gilmore & Rentschler, 2002). Entrepreneurialism was perhaps a logical development from marketisation, for if marketisation meant the museum operated more like a business and less like a funded institute, then entrepreneurialism involved actively seeking out diversified revenue sources, including “new audiences, products, venues and multi-art experiences” to compete in tourism and leisure industries (Gilmore & Rentschler, 2002, p. 746; Muller & Edmonds, 2006; Scott, 2004).
1 Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is more commonly known as ‘Te Papa’. It loosely translates as ‘Our Place’.
The interrelationships between the visitor, the market and the newly entrepreneurial museum have brought about a type of ‘new museum’ in which a central goal of management is to achieve the ‘museum experience’ (Alexander, 1999; Twitchell, 2004). Central to the museum experience is the visitor, and how that visitor uses the museum facility. It is a contention of the wider research in which this paper is situated, that in the discourse associated with the ‘new museum’, the ‘museum visitor’ has been reconstituted as the ‘museum consumer’. A person who is a ‘visitor’ to the museum can be seen as a ‘cultural citizen’, both in the aesthetic and the anthropological sense (Miller & Yudice, 2002), whereas a ‘museum consumer’ is constituted as a ‘customer’ who is persuaded to desire museum ‘services’ (Rowley, 1999).
In as much as entrepreneurialism is a driver of the ‘new’ museum concept, developments in the way creativity is understood have also been influential. The growing power of the entrepreneurial model of museums has, importantly, coincided with the developing discourse of ‘creative industries’, which promotes creativity as a driver of economic growth (Hartley, 2005; Florida, 2004; McRobbie, 2002). The creative industries concept was formally promulgated in 1998 when it was defined and incorporated into policy in Britain (DCMS, 2001). It has since spread worldwide in cultural policy (Flew & Cunningham, 2010; Higgs & Cunningham, 2008). Creative industries promotes cultural production and consumption, encouraging active participation in cultural sectors on a global level (Flew & Cunningham, 2010; Pratt, 2009). The concept also reinforces discussion about the importance of technology and technological convergence in the creative economy (Flew, 2005). Furthermore, there is a focus on “markets, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property” in creative industries literature that emphasises cultural and creative activity based on economic value (Flew & Cunningham, 2010, p. 119; Potts & Cunningham, 2008). These notions in both the scholarship and in policy have enabled concepts such as ‘creative cities’, which propose that by increasing a city’s creative appeal, creative individuals will be drawn to live there and subsequently bring about economic growth (Landry, 2000; Tay, 2005; Florida, 2004). Ultimately, the creative industries discourse focuses strongly on the economic value of creative and cultural activity, and promotes the benefits of investing in the concept.
It is within this creative industries discourse and arguably, creative cities, that the ‘new museum’ is now situated. While creative industries policies differ between countries, there is a consensus that the curatorial sector is a significant contributor (UNESCO, 2009; UNCTAD, 2008). Creative industries ideas emphasise the entrepreneurial notions of the ‘museum experience’, with a focus on (visitor) markets, technology and cultural consumption, and especially underlines the importance of the museum consumer. Consequently, the museum sector is both reflective of, and influenced by, creative industries notions that underpin specific policies (Richards & Wilson, 2006; Scott, 2006; Tay, 2005). To illustrate, a strategy for increasing the creative appeal of a city is to enhance its cultural nature by making museums and art galleries appealing to the broadest possible audience (Richards & Wilson, 2006; Scott, 2006). For instance, art galleries once perceived as ‘stuffy’ or ‘elitist’, are newly ‘cool’ urban spaces and facilities (Axelsen, 2006). Many cities around the world, therefore, adopt creative industries policies involving the museum and gallery experience to develop the image of cityscapes as cultural destinations (Prentice, 2001; Scott, 2006).
Enhancing the creative appeal of cities through the museum and gallery experience is likewise evident in New Zealand, with the restoration of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and the renovation of the Auckland War Memorial Museum (Auckland City Council, 2005; Auckland Museum, 2011; Gibson, 2007). But these notable renovations were preceded in the 1990s by the development of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (‘Te Papa’). During the 1990s, many aspects of New Zealand’s national life moved towards a market-driven model.2 It is therefore unsurprising that the remodelling of the national museum and gallery also adopted a market model preceding, in practical terms, the emergence of creative industries rhetoric by some ten years.
Located in Wellington, Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, an integrated cultural institution which includes the National Art Gallery (Cottrell & Preston, 1999; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, n.d.). Te Papa opened on 14 February 1998 and records more than 1.3 million visitors a year (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2011). The museum promotes itself as “renowned for being bicultural, scholarly, innovative, and fun” and aims to provide visitors with “a stimulating, inspiring experience” (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2011, p. 7). Te Papa is the model of a curatorial institution that embodies the ‘new museum’ ideology, characterised by “high overall visitation, a democratized audience and a more diverse public role within the leisure and tourism sector” (Davidson & Sibley, 2011, p. 178). In line with Davidson & Sibley’s (2011) ideals, Te Papa furthermore outlines its role as “a key tourism and visitor attraction” that “makes an important economic contribution while also serving as a catalyst and forum for research and creativity” (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2011, p. 7). As such, Te Papa demonstrates its link with creative industries, enabling creative activity, city appeal and commercial success.
The Te Papa project is partly documented in Getting to Our Place (GTOP) by Anna Cottrell and Gaylene Preston. In particular, this documentary shows the debates and tensions associated with the Treaty of Waitangi exhibition, which is the display of New Zealand’s founding document, the agreement between the British Crown and the indigenous Māori. The Treaty project team believed they were designing a truly transformative exhibit that first, would honour the significance of the Treaty and second, would provide a point at which New Zealand’s idiosyncratic concept of biculturalism would be made manifest to museum visitors. Museum management, however, saw an opportunity for a ‘museum experience’ and the complexity of the Treaty material was compressed between the two philosophies. Drawing on Cottrell and Preston’s (1999) documentary, the rest of this paper is a case study of the pressures of introducing fundamental change in New Zealand’s museum sector.
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