Monday, 1 September 2014


A thought-provoking piece by Auckland Museum director Roy Clare published on MuseumID has received the tl;dr treatment from MuseumHack. Either makes for good reading.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Open wide

Walking towards Te Papa this morning, through the fruit and vege market in the adjacent carpark, and then onwards to City Gallery via the harbour front, it struck me again how much that building seals itself off from the activities and interactions taking place on the waterfront. The entrance to Te Papa doesn't meld in with any of the natural paths in that area, but nor does it provide that feeling of anticipation that the classical frontage of the old Museum created.

I thought about this again this afternoon after instapapering up this interview with Renzo Piano about the museum projects he has worked on, and particularly this comment
All the buildings you mentioned—they “fly.” They are rooted, but they lift up, above the ground and that lets light to come under and inside and allow the ritual of the city life to merge with the ritual of the building life. By lifting the building, the ground floor becomes almost a continuation of the public realm. You leave space beneath it for life to happen.
It reminded me of hearing, years ago, Dan Hill talk about the State Library of Queensland. Of course, the clemency of your climate plays a significant role in your ability to embrace the world, but there's a generosity there that I think is incredibly important.

(See also Dan Hill's follow-up work with SLQ and the way the environment was used, particularly in relation to the wi-fi availability.)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


I'm not sure if it's new, or new to me, but I've just discovered Te Ara's 'Creative and Intellectual Life' section.*

Sections include Roger Blackley on the history of art galleries and collecting, Peter Ireland on photography and Rebecca Rice and Mark Williams on criticism (art and literary). Other sections include anthropology, libraries, theatre design and more.

*The section title is happy-making in itself - unapologetic and standing tall in a time whne where I'm looking for art stories on a newspaper site I generally have to make a call between 'lifestyle' and 'entertainment'.

Monday, 11 August 2014


Expansionist or localist, idealist or realist: this article in the NYT about digital goals at the Met and Brooklyn Museum shows how much the BM's thinking has changed as a result of the ambitious experiments resulting decisions vice director Shelley Bernstein has made.

I would argue that the BM is far closer to where of the world's art galleries should be looking, and it's increasingly unrealistic to take the behemoths as our role models.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

And now, for some backlash

Jake Chapman's comments about kids in galleries are creating some column inches (pixels?)

Dea Birkett in The Guardian

Anthony Gormley and Will Gompertz for the BBC

Summing it up for the New Statesman

More in The Times (behind a paywall)

Thursday, 31 July 2014

"Be a fucking soldier about it"

I don't listen to the This American Life podcast nearly as much as I used to. That doesn't mean I don't still idolise Ira Glass. Which is why you should read this interview with Glass on Lifehacker - skip the product promos at the start, and get straight into how the TAL team create their shows, and especially how Glass breaks hours of recording down into a story. Inspiring.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Turning it off

When I saw Shelley's post come out about turning off the tagging activities at Brooklyn Museum, I half-jokingly tweeted about how in 20 years time my cohort will be sitting up near the front of a conference while some whippersnapper gives a history of the digital GLAMs and talks about the blip that was tagging.

I'm not even half-joking, to be honest. And I think tagging has long gone the way of comments; we just do not interact and share - or contribute - like this any more. In fact, one of the most interesting points in Shelley's post points to just that: "Tagging has shifted to a more social language, not a descriptive one. For as much as we want the keywords, the notion of tags as keywords has changed considerably."

Friday, 25 July 2014

Finally it's happening to me

Or at least, it's a step closer. The Newspaper Club has launched PaperLater, a service that lets you bookmark online texts and then automagically organises them into a 20 page newspaper, delivered to your door.

I've been dreaming of this service for years: imagine making your Sunday coffee and settling down, to read on sympathetic paper, to read all those interesting things you'd noted but never got round to during the week. Here, Dan Hill shares my (future) bliss, while also discussing benevolent parasitism and online services.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Whither arts journalism?

On the long list of 'debates that will never be resolved', one item that gets the go-around treatment frequently is 'has the internet killed arts journalism/reviewing?'

A recent article that focuses on New Jersey led me to two newish models of funding arts reporting.

In one, the MinnPost - a "nonprofit, nonpartisan enterprise whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota", staffed by professional journalists - recently completed a $10K crowdfunding effort to expand their arts reporting

In another, the News & Record of Greenboro N.C. took $15K to fund arts reporting from a non-profit advocates for the arts and distributes funding.  

MinnPost's business model is based on sponsors, advertisers and donors. Crowdfunding to support extra arts reporting seems consistent with that model: donate to buy more of what you want to read. The agreement between News & Record and the non-profit states that the paper "shall have complete independence and discretion", while the non-profit is also clear that reporting is more authentic than paid advertising and therefore more compelling to cultural consumers.

That first article I linked to above paints both these acts as 'desperate' and states that both "[challenge] journalistic ethics to the max".

In New Zealand we suffer for a paucity of paid opportunities for professional arts journalists and reviewers. This problem is not going away. Most people who write, report or comment on the arts are doing it as part of a range of paying-the-bills activities, because as a full-time job it's just not feasible.

We've talked about this a lot in terms of what that means for the writer/commentator (it's difficultly, for example, to write negative reviews when (a) there's so little opportunity to publish that you want to be positive when you do get airtime and (b) you also need to keep friends in the industry) and the artist (who isn't getting good critical feedback, or the coverage needed to develop a career). But what does it mean for our ability to keep existing audiences and develop news ones, if arts coverage keeps dwindling in amount and quality?

People can't be interested in what they never hear about. Newspapers, magazines, radio and tv (on and off-line) are still the best places to raise awareness and create interest. If getting our stories in there means having a debate about what it means for ethics if we look at sources other than old-school paid advertising to get airtime, then count me in. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

On the radio

Belatedly, last week on the radio I spent the whole segment with Kathryn talking about Kara Walker's A Subtlety and debating whether the Instagrammed responses of some visitors could be considered to be "doing art wrong".