Community, collaboration and conservation – co-developing a methodology forcultural safety and care for the Pacific Cultures Collection at Museum Victoria
Erina McCann: Tiaki Objects Conservation – Ngāti Ruapani, Rongowhakaata, Ngai Tāmanuhiri
Jade Hadfield: Museums Victoria – Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whatua
Erina McCann is a conservator in private practice, with over 13 years’ experience working in the heritage sector. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Anthropology and Maori Material Culture from The University of Auckland and a Master of Cultural Materials Conservation from the University of Melbourne.
Jade Hadfield has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Victoria University (Wellington) and a Master of Cultural Materials Conservation from the University of Melbourne. She has worked in the cultural sector for over ten years and is now at MV working on the Te Pasifika Gallery Redevelopment Project.
The Pacific Cultures Collection at Museums Victoria (MV) is an extensive collection comprising between 20,000–23,000 artefacts and over 8,000 images from Island Nations throughout the Pacific. Access to these collections by members of a growing and evolving, linguistically and culturally diverse Pacific community is integral to cultural maintenance and community wellbeing. The fluidity of culture means the way in which community accesses and engages with their cultural heritage adapts and changes to suit the needs of its people; for some it is a rediscovery of collection material. More importantly, the value of what is not seen is constantly present, as stories, knowledge, traditions, perspectives, and custom continue to transcend generations in new contexts. A Methodology for Cultural Safety and Care, has been developed during the redevelopment of Te Pasifika Gallery at MV, which outlines co-developed guidelines that suggest ways in which to interact with collections safely, with respect to wider Pacific Values. This collaborative document challenges aspects of collection management, conservation, and collections care, and provides a platform for collective Pacific voices in an Australian context. With the aim of aligning with current policy and expanding on principles in MV’s current procedures and policy, the implementation of the methodology confronts the need to embrace Pacific perspectives, relevant to a current and fluid Pacific culture where cultural values are elevated as practice.