Museums and galleries add public value. They are reliant on their visitors, communities, funders, stakeholders and each other for their continued existence. How do we ensure that museums and galleries are sustainable and maintain relevance to these stakeholders today and into the future?

Key Themes

  • Hāngaitanga – Relevance
  • Kaitiakitanga Custodianship
  • Tūranga Place
  • Mātauranga Knowledge
  • Tikanga Practice

The first joint conference of Museums Aotearoa and Museums Australia is taking place in New Zealand, where the spirit and partnership envisaged by the Treaty of Waitangi is observed and encouraged. Museums Aotearoa and Museums Australia are hosting MA16 with full participation of mana whenua (people of the land) – Ngati Whatua and Auckland Museum’s Taumata-ā-Iwi. The conference will generate conversations around relevance through the themes of custodianship, place, knowledge and practice. Ideas of partnership and collaboration will be woven throughout with a focus across Australasia and the Pacific.

Our provocation: Keynote speaker Robert R Janes recently challenged museums to address pressing societal issues and suggested that museums possess six qualities that can make a difference: collections; diversity; locality; the ability to bridge the ‘two cultures’ of science and humanities; the personal agency of professionals; and bearing witness in ways that expand knowledge and consciousness (‘Museums for all seasons’, Museum Management and Curatorship, 29(5), 2014)

As a platform for trans-Tasman dialogue, this conference is uniquely positioned to discuss the ways museums and galleries across Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Asia can offer social leadership while remaining relevant to their bicultural, indigenous and diverse communities and fulfilling their role as kaitiaki or custodians of collections.

The Call for Participation has closed

We invited papers and proposals for sessions that reflect on the ways museums and galleries in this region are aiming to be of social, cultural and scientific value, and remain sustainable and relevant into the future. We encourage perspectives on the differences or shared experiences between Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific, the role of distance or locality and the impact of indigenous people, knowledge and worldviews in museums and galleries as well as the evolving implications of science and technology.

Within the key themes other ideas include:

  •  Stewardship & shared authority: evaluating public value and impact; strengthening leadership; re-thinking governance; philanthropy, custodianship
  •  Methodologies and practice: new ideas, expanding indigenous and cultural agency; bridging art and science; decolonising research, ethics
  •  Sustainability: partnerships; resourcing facilities; developing collections; disposal/dispersal and a lighter footprint; conservation;
  • Changing contexts: design; technology; accessible sciences, digital engagement
  • Connecting: engagement with local communities; audience participation; knowledge-sharing, crowd-sourcing
  • Shared ecology: arts and sciences cohabiting
  • Self-discovery: building knowledge; shaping awareness; identity- a ‘place to stand’, cultural agency
  • Learning: directions in capacity-building; education; crossing disciplines, museum and curatorial studies
  • Narrative: exhibitions; on-line features; archives and research; communications; social media, multiple voices, histories and stories
  • Museums of the future


Hashtag for social media: #ma16nz

Pre- and post-conference special interest sessions will be announced at a future date, including:

  • Postgraduate research seminar
  • Emerging Museum Professionals mini-conference
  • Kaitiaki and indigenous hui
  • Digital academy