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Museum Studies staff and students help quake-hit colleagues

Museum Studies staff and students help quake-hit colleagues

Staff and students from Massey University’s museum studies course have helped ensure the Canterbury Museum re-opens today (Friday) ahead of the anniversary of the first Christchurch earthquake.

Distance-learning students enrolled in the Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies from Christchurch have been hosted for their contact courses at Palmerston North with travel and accommodation expenses subsidised by the University.

Museum and Heritage Studies programme co-ordinator Susan Abasa, from the School of People, Environment and Planning, says it became apparent after the February earthquake that plans for the regular course programme for South Island students based in Christchurch would need revising.

“Several leading museums and cultural heritage organisations in Christchurch are partners with Massey Museum Studies,” she says. “One, Our City, was destroyed in September; the Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery were in the red zone – with the Gallery used as civil defence headquarters – leaving just the Air Force Museum of New Zealand open. We had advertised that the contact courses would be held in Christchurch – and they are a compulsory part of students’ work. What were we to do?”

The University’s offer to support the visiting students’ expenses was matched by a request for billets sent out to the University’s database. “Within 30 minutes there were more offers than students,” Ms Abasa says.

The goodwill has continued with student Cerys Dallaway, who is in her final paper of the postgraduate diploma, spending a week at the museum completing a variety of projects related to exhibition installations. The fashion design graduate last year completed time as a curatorial intern at The Suter Gallery while taking three papers.

Megan Wells, who is completing her master’s thesis in museum studies, also joined staff to help with preparations for the opening.

Canterbury Museum exhibitions manager Stephen Pennruscoe says the practical, “can-do” attitude shown by Ms Dallaway and Ms Wells was immensely helpful to the installation team. “Knowing our colleagues support us has also been a boost to our morale.”


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