In July/August 2019 we ran 3 workshops for around 50 emerging and current museum professionals in Aotearoa New Zealand – 2 in Wellington and 1 in Auckland. The workshops on Intercultural Practice and Museum Impact attracted people from museums, galleries and libraries across the country, in roles as diverse as curators, educators, archivists, conservators, interpreters, and others involved in touring exhibitions and audience engagement. The topics we covered – drawn from our book Cosmopolitan Ambassadors: International exhibitions, cultural diplomacy and the polycentral museum (2019, Vernon Press) – included building strong partnerships across cultural, geographical and political borders; key skills and practices for intercultural collaboration; developing intercultural experiences and engaging audiences; museum diplomacy; and the polycentral museum as a new way of thinking about the purpose, practice and impact of museums.
The workshops were a blend of key theories and concepts, practical tools and advice, and exercises focussing on putting ideas into practice. There was much lively discussion about a range of fascinating intercultural projects that participants were currently involved in. We felt very gratified that professionals found our ideas useful and relevant to a wide range of contexts and current issues that they are grappling with. Thanks to everyone who came along!
The NZ launch for Cosmopolitan Ambassadors was held on July 29, after the Wellington workshop, with our guest speaker Dr Huhana Smith, former Senior Curator Māori at Te Papa, and currently Head of School, Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University. It was a very special evening spent with friends and colleagues, and the first time Leticia and I had been able to celebrate together this culmination of our years working on this challenging but very satisfying project.