Motat push to swap 'irrelevance' for 'must experience'

By Mathew Dearnaley

Photo / Natalie Slade
Photo / Natalie Slade

Auckland's "dysfunctional" transport and technology museum is to be reinvented as a hands-on learning hub, with a greater emphasis on interactive exhibitions over restoring relics.

Director Michael Frawley, who briefed his army of factionalised volunteers and staff at the museum last night on a different strategic course, claims a mandate from a new board aims to get the 50-year-old institution humming with activities of value to Aucklanders in return for their $12 million of annual ratepayer funding.

"Just being a museum of things is not a long-term attraction," he said, concurring with a damning 2012 report by consultants led by founding Te Papa chief executive Dame Cheryll Sotheran, which found Motat was dysfunctional and in crisis amid childish in-fighting - struggling even to be worthy of the name "museum".

"The key message is that we are changing fundamentally, because at the moment people see us as the wild child of the museum world, and an irrelevance," Mr Frawley said.

"We have to re-establish ourselves as a legitimate museum that has value, because in the absence of that, nobody is going to want to touch us with a bargepole."

That included potential corporate sponsors he had tried unsuccessfully to enlist, although learning institutions such as the University of Auckland and Massey University were starting to recognise Motat as a potential recruiting ground for "innovators of tomorrow".

"They are saying they want to be involved in this, because they can't get enough students to study science."

Mr Frawley, a multinational corporate restructuring specialist who joined Motat a year ago, said the new strategic vision was for it to become a "must experience" venue to educate and inspire youngsters with stories of Kiwi ingenuity.

- NZ Herald

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