Caring for a collection: The Te Awe team
Te Awe is a project work space on the ground floor of the Museum just around the corner from our He Taonga Māori gallery. Through the glass doors, you can watch as staff work to care for the collections through conservation, documentation, photography and digitisation. This work will improve our records to make the collection more accessible to communities and get the taonga ready in preparation for gallery renewal projects.
We would like to share some of the amazing stories we come across as we do this important work in a series of upcoming blogs. But first, let me introduce you to our team.
Jim Wylie, Storage Technician
Jim’s job is to maintain or improve the way we currently store taonga. This includes building storage units, nesting fragile taonga, and making sure that any movement of the objects is carried out in the safest way possible. If you are standing near the window, you might see Jim working with ethafoam, wooden trays or corflute boxes in this space. If not, he might be in the basement workshops, building storage solutions.
Karin Konold and Kararaina Te Ira, Te Awe Conservators
Karin, and recently Kararaina, are our Conservators. Their job involves ensuring taonga are physically stable before we move, clean or photograph them. Reporting any condition issues and making recommendations for future care is also a major concern. They must inspect and/or clean all of the 5,000 or so taonga in our care.
However, going below surface layers of dust and dirt can become a question of professional ethics, as the need to distinguish between ‘museum’ and ‘historical’ dirt is considered. How much of a taonga’s physical state are we bound to preserve as part of its whakapapa or history? What do you think?
Jenna Dudley, George Haimona and Awhina Rawiri-Erick, Collection Information Technicians
We’re the Collection Information technicians and we take over from the conservators to take measurements, record any inscriptions or attached labels, and to photograph the taonga. Besides producing digital images, we’re responsible for ensuring that all Auckland Museum-held source information on a taonga is cross-checked, verified, and reconciled across these sources.
Once this is done, we input into our friend Vernon – the Museum’s collection management database. Some of our time is spent elsewhere in the building and we may not be here when you visit. Kei te pai, it just means you need to come back and see us. By the way, George just joined us, replacing Taila Roth who flew off to influence Wellington’s museum world. Hopefully you now have some idea of who we are and what we’re doing.
We look forward to regular catch-ups with you over the next couple of years.
Hei konā, be back soon.
Post by: Auckland Museum
Auckland War Memorial Museum tells the story of New Zealand, its people, and their place in the Pacific.
Discuss this article
Join the discussion about this article by posting your reponse on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #amdiscuss.
More from Auckland Museum
Letting people see inside our Museum stores and giving others a chance to connect with and gain a better understanding of our taonga collections is all part of the thinking behind our new space Te Awe.