I've written a bit about change over the past few years and no doubt I'll write about it again.

This year has seen a fair bit of change at MTG Hawke's Bay and, with the library coming into the building, there's a lot more ahead.

While we welcome the library and the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues, we realise this means a lot of change for everyone – staff and the community.

Staff, from both the museum and the library, will have to adjust to new ways of working, develop an understanding of our different ways of operating, and there'll be many compromises to be reached.


While the community have to figure out how they engage with both the museum and the library in this new arrangement. And I'm sure there are many questions in people's minds.

• How will transport work to get to the museum and library?

• How many books will be at MTG? What about access to the library reserve collection?

• Will the number of museum exhibitions be reduced?

• Will the galleries be crowded with people?

• How will the collection be protected?

• How will the museum archives be accessed?

• When will the library move to a permanent location?

• Will the museum archives move back in when the library moves out?

• How do we behave in the museum?

• Can I take my coffee into the library?

Most of these are answered on the museum and library websites. But there are some key messages that I can share.

Firstly, library users are welcome at the museum. Our front of house staff are very approachable and will help you orientate yourself in MTG.

We want to ensure you feel welcome here.

We are different from a library and we do have our own peculiarities. But there are only two basic differences to be aware of.

In order to protect the region's collection and ensure it will be maintained and kept for future generations, as well as to respect cultural protocols, we ask that people don't bring food or drink into the museum (and certainly that you don't consume them in our galleries).

MTG staff will be happy to hold any food or drink you have until you have completed your visit to the building.

The second thing we ask and appreciate is that people refrain from touching collection items.

Again, this is to ensure we look after and protect your treasures for future generations. Something as simple as the oils on our skin can lead to long-term and irreparable damage to objects. And over time many, many hands touching something can wear it away.

I know from personal experience how hard this can be with children.

One of my sons was very tactile – he just couldn't help himself and wanted to touch everything.

So we really do appreciate your help and understanding about how important it is to resist the temptation to touch.

We know that we can give some mixed signals in the museum world.

On the one hand we don't want objects to be touched and on the other hand we have interactives that are designed for handling.

We've started labelling items that you are welcome to touch with a hand. Hopefully this symbol helps alleviate confusion but we would welcome your feedback on this.

We encourage families to come in with their children and try to provide things to keep younger visitors interested and engaged.

There are some interactives around the building, occasional items displayed specifically to appeal to children and activities that children can participate in.

Making the museum an engaging place is an ongoing objective and we will, with your input, continue to work on this.

• Laura Vodanovich is the director of the Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG) Hawke's Bay.