Thursday, 28 October 2010

Peer Review for Standards Scheme

(Left to right: John Low, Otautau Museum Chairperson; Jim Geddes, Gore Art Gallery and Museum; and Kylie Ngaropo of National Services Te Paerangi).

Yesterday we participated in a peer review of the New Zealand Museum Standards Scheme which is run by National Services Te Paerangi. This is a scheme to help improve the work of museums towards best practice standards.

Our reviewers were Jim Geddes, Director of the Eastern Southland Gallery and Museum, and Kylie Ngaropo, Manager of Iwi Development at National Services Te Paerangi. All peer reviews are conducted as bi-cultural so that we get a balanced perspective. Also present were John Low (Chairperson), Graham Barkman (Display and Publicity Manager), Peter Campbell and Muriel Brown (Trustees), and myself (Collections Manager).

We looked at all five areas of best practice for a museum: Governance, Collections & Taonga, Public Programs, Customer Service, and Relationships with Communities. It took the better part of the day to move through all five modules but in the end a lot of good ideas emerged on how to improve e.g. being prepared for an emergency, creating relationships with the local runaka and other local organisations, as well as a bit more financial and succession planning.

Some things that the reviewers felt were positive were that we refresh our displays every few months so that we don't have the same thing on display all the time, and that we have job descriptions and policies in writing. They said they've seen some museums that have paid staff that don't have those things in place. So we felt really good about that. Often times, being so rural and remote, we don't know how we are doing in comparison with the other local museums around us. So it felt good to get some positive feedback.

The review was a very user-friendly process. It was relaxed and informal with no pressure to comply to the Standards. Just a good honest discussion on how we do things and what could be the next step for us. In a month or so, the review team will produce a report that we can use as a guide and reference for strategic planning as well as to support us in funding applications we might submit.

We'd like to thank Jim and Kylie again for taking a whole day to give their perspective on what we do and how we can improve.

Next month, we head into revising our strategic plan. If you have feedback on the museum - positive or negative - please feel free to email us or leave a comment. Your views can make a difference.

We're open Wednesdays and Sundays, 2pm-4pm, and by request. Your comments are always welcome!


Anonymous said...

It's great that you found the peer review so helpful. This feedback is also very encouraging for other museums who are considering undertaking the standards scheme as a way of thinking about where they are at now and about future directions.
Judith Taylor
Museum Development Officer South Island
National Services Te Paerangi

Cathy said...

Kia ora Judith,

So great to hear from you. Yes, we got huge amounts of value from their visit and hope to turn it into real action and change.

I still feel that flexibility in these Standards is important. For example - a visitor's survey should not have to only be in written form as many of our visitors are not interested in filling out forms, but instead give their feedback face-to-face. The point is to ensure two-way communication where visitors can communicate their ideas/feedback and be heard at the level of the Trust/decision-makers.

Anyway, it's nice to hear from you and we look forward to seeing you again some time.