A lot has happened at MTG Hawke’s Bay over the last couple of weeks – beginning with opening the exhibition Mystery of History to the public on Saturday 5 October. Over a thousand people came through the museum doors on the day, and there was a great deal of excitement and buzz waiting for the official opening. Our awesome Focus Group were there to cut the ribbon and be the first to see the finished display they’d helped create. It was a very festive occasion, with a samurai warrior and dragon in attendance, and lots of fun was had by all.
Mystery of History was quite a departure from our normal exhibitions - we’ve tried out some different things to see how they work and whether they appeal to our visitors. The processes behind the exhibition were also very different, with the object selection and label writing led by the collections team, rather than the curators (who were busy working on other exhibitions). We also involved a Focus Group of children from the very beginning, to ensure we were developing something that would appeal to a younger demographic. We’re finding that this step outside the norm seems to be working, with families and people of all ages loving the exhibition.
On the same day as the exhibition opening, we received news that MTG had won Gold in the Best in Design Awards for the exhibition George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118. This exhibition of George Nuku’s work was developed in collaboration with museum curatorial and exhibition staff. The collaborative approach added a number of design elements that were recognised in the judging of the award. These included the rippling lighting effect that created a sense of being underwater, the video with waiata, rap poem and song to Pania, the soundscape of chanting and paddling, and using chalk to create the labels rather than vinyl – keeping the exhibition consistent with the environmental message. The design, coupled with George’s stunning creations, made Bottled Ocean 2118 one of the most popular exhibitions we’ve had on display, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Most importantly, a huge number of school students went through Bottled Ocean 2118 and participated in the education programme, developed by museum educators to highlight and enhance the environmental messages in George’s work. We celebrated this win with George Nuku and his team of dedicated helpers, with a small event at the museum this week.
Thursday the 10th we had Mary Kisler from Auckland Art Gallery join us to give a presentation on her journey following in the footsteps of New Zealand expatriate artist, Frances Hodgkins. Mary travelled through Europe seeking, and mostly finding, the locations and scenes from Hodgkins’ paintings. Her research has enabled detailed information about the artworks to be captured for prosperity. One of these works, Gateway on the Riveria, is from the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust’s collection and is included in the touring exhibition of Hodgkins’ work. It was a very entertaining evening with lots of fun and interesting stories shared. Although the exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys, won’t be coming to MTG, it is opening at Dunedin Public Art Gallery today.
White Night happens from 6-10pm this evening. All the arts and culture facilities in the centre of Napier City, including MTG, will be open and ready to welcome everyone in. With food and drink stalls, a light show and plenty of local galleries and other facilities to visit, why not come along and join the fun.
Image caption: Some Focus Group members, Taiki, Hawaiki, Harley, Jean Kume and Santana, ready for the opening of Mystery of History
20 October 2019
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