As mentioned previously, once the formal business of our AGM on 24 September was finished with, members were provided with a review of recent projects and a tantalising preview of forthcoming events and activities by Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Director, Janet Carding.
This is a transcript of her address.
I’ve been at TMAG for less than six months so I can’t tell you about everything we’ve done over the last year, but here are some highlights of 2014–15:
The many exhibitions included Bush Blitz in Focus: Discovering New Species in Tasmania, City of Hobart Art Prize 2014, George Davis: Master Draughtsman, Jorg Schmeisser: Antarctic Paintings, 21 Up, Things I Once Knew: The Art of Patrick Hall and The Suspense is Awful: Tasmania and the Great War
Participation by TMAG scientists in the national Bush Blitz Program field expedition to the Arthur, Pieman and Savage River areas
Acquisitions have added to our collections including a new piece by Patrick Hall, depth of field bought with the support of the Foundation; a watercolour by Benjamin Duterrau, Schone Castle, Scotland; 1960s dining room suite by Schulim Krimper (dining table, dining chairs, side table, sideboard), coffee table and desk; Patricia Dukes Antarctic collection, 1995–2005. Equipment and supporting documentation for the 1997 Spirit of Australia South Pole expedition, 2000 International Trans Antarctic expedition and the 2002 Arctic expedition; Voucher collection of Tasmanian freshwater invertebrates from Australian River Assessment System (AUSRIVAS) sampling program, of unknown value
Expansion of key partnerships, particularly with the City of Hobart in the delivery of the inaugural summer Friday Nights at TMAG series supported by the council’s cultural initiative, Creative Hobart
Expansion of outreach and art education activities delivered through AccessArt and supported by Detached Cultural Foundation including live virtual tours, Make Your Mark: Freedom youth art initiative and the Artist in Residence Program, January 2015
Expansion of learning programs to include a hands-on program milaythina Makara takila-ti or Country forever in our hearts presented by Tasmanian Aboriginal community members and TMAG staff and the very popular Colonial Hobart Comes Alive
NAIDOC Week and National Science Week programming and a new partnership with Questacon, The National Science and Technology Centre in the delivery of the Invention Convention at TMAG
And looking ahead we’ve signed an MOU with the Natural History Museum, Le Havre in conjunction with six other museums around Australia to be part of a touring exhibition throughout 2016 and 2017 of original artworks from Baudin’s expeditions to Australia.
We have finished the year [with visitor numbers] around 360,000. This is good news as we expected to drop back from the giddy heights of the 475,000 the previous year, but I understand drops of up to 50% are not uncommon in the second year after a reopening.
I know that TMAG is a much-loved organization and the recent redevelopment has been positively received. We have:
- Strong collections, 1 million strong, with a unique Tasmanian focus – we tell the stories of Tasmania
- Lots of programs, and considerable innovation happening
- Dedicated supporters in Volunteers, Friends, Foundation and TMAGgots
- Good in-house expertise eg in Conservation, registration, outreach, Aboriginal engagement
- A wonderful location for our main site, and good collection facilities at Rosny.
Around the world museums and galleries are changing as we see more programs and events alongside the exhibitions and educational activities, evening openings, collaborations around research, new initiatives for early years, wellness and medical, and increase in collections online. Over the next few years we’ll see increasing use of big data, and gain a better understanding of how museums strengthen communities – giving people a strong sense of identity grounded in history, art and landscape – in this globalised world.
Within Tasmania we’re seeing a push to increase tourism to 1.5 million visitors, but also initiatives around educational attainment – in all of these areas TMAG can and will play an important role.
With the first stage of the redevelopment completed now is the time to build on what we’ve achieved and focus on how we bring the museum and art gallery to life everyday. We’re working on our plans for the future and by the end of the year will have a new strategic plan, but what I can tell you today is that we should be:
- The leading destination to explore the stories of Tasmania
- A must-do for tourists and popular with locals
We do this by being:
- Compelling for adults, families and school students
- A centre for volunteering, philanthropy and citizen science/humanities
- The State’s collections content hub, supporting culture, tourism, research and education state-wide
This year while we plan we’re making a start by using our next exhibitions to build awareness of the role we play in the community. Let me give you some of the highlights:
We’ve put together the evening events that take place at TMAG, so we can better promote what goes on here, and you can put them in your diary well in advance.
The Hobart Art Prize has just returned, putting us in the spotlight around contemporary practice in Tasmania.
A week later on Sat 26 Sept we will be opening Colonial Panoramic Views, a rich display curated by Sue Backhouse
In mid-December we open Pattern Play, an exhibition that uses the patterns in art and nature to inspire families and young people in their creativity, major show from QAG, with additional material by TMAG which runs until late May next year. We are delighted that the committee of the Friends has committed $15,000 to support the development of new exhibitions about patterns in nature for this show.
Snapshot photography in mid-March 2016 – documenting the experience of women migrating to Tasmania from 1945 to 1975
And then in mid-June 2016 our major exhibition, The Tempest, will open to coincide with Dark MOFO.
Alongside all of this we’ll be completing our plans, building partnerships, promoting ourselves to tourists, increasing our volunteering opportunities and building the case for major investment in our technology – particularly our collections management system – the way we aim to digitise our collections and build a platform that can be shared with the other state organisations to put Tasmania on the map in terms of online access to our unique resources, libraries, archives, museum and galleries.
It is a lot to do and very exciting, and we’ll need your help to make TMAG truly thrive in this world. A museum is as strong as the community that supports it and, whether your interest is in Tasmania’s art, education, research or history, your support can make a major difference.
I’ve already been struck by the joy, enthusiasm and generosity of the Friends, always enjoying learning and new experiences, whilst supporting TMAG. Thank you for making me welcome, and I look forward to talking more with you as each new idea for TMAG take shape.