Monday 23 June 2008

Estimates Committee B

Michelle O’Byrne

3.2 Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Progress of the TMAG

Ms O'BYRNE - I am just want to tell Bill, because he is particularly passionate about TMAG, that time is running out.

Mr WING - In the forward projections there seem to be fairly moderate increases, mainly CPI one supposes, except that compared with this current financial year and next there is a steeper increase, but it is fairly moderate all the way through.  So I do not really have any questions about this.  At a function in the last few months I had the opportunity to see parts of the Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery that I had not seen before -

Ms O'BYRNE - Behind the scenes tours.

Mr WING - Yes, and I was very impressed with the various collections and I think that it has been very well run, a very good standard for a museum and I do not have any queries or any problems.

Mr FINCH - If I go to table 4.7 expenses by output 3.2, on the TMAG there is substantial development work under way.  But through the information that I have been given here I cannot get a grasp of the progress or the completion in the estimates figures.

Ms O'BYRNE - Whilst I would love to do that I am going to throw it to Bill here because he does this so much better than I and he is doing it on an almost daily basis right now.

Mr FINCH - We have had an understanding previously about the work that is being done and our enthusiastic support of that.

Ms O'BYRNE - The master plan.

Mr FINCH - So I am just curious as I have not been in there for some time.

Ms O'BYRNE - There is some very exciting archaeological work that is taking place that I am sure that Bill will fill you in on.

Mr FINCH - I would like to have some understanding of where we are at.

Mr BLEATHMAN - There are two elements to our budget, one is the recurrent consolidated fund budget and the other is the redevelopment which is under a capital investment program.  In the 2008-09 financial year there is an amount of $5 859 000 specifically allocated to the next stage of the redevelopment.  That is the second tranche of the $30 million allocation over four years.

Mr FINCH - And progress is coming along fine?


Mr FINCH -  I am just curious.  From the figures that we have been given here, the target for visitor numbers for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery seems modest and you are even predicting to be below the 2005-06 figures.  I would have thought, what with the improvements and with more going on there that perhaps your target, your projections, might be a little bit higher.

Mr BLEATHMAN - Once we complete the redevelopment, visitor numbers will be over 600-650 000.  Last year we had two exhibitions that were quite outstanding in terms of visitor numbers; one was the Ashes trophy and we had 20 000 through in four days, and the other was National Treasures from Australia's Great Libraries which had 87 000 through.  We did not have those two exhibitions this year so that number is not sustainable.

But certainly 300 000 visitors a year is a large number.  We are up from 130 00 six years ago and it has now been sustained for three years in a row.  We passed 300 00 this current financial year about three weeks ago.  Our emphasis has been on not necessarily bringing the big exhibitions in at this time because we are focussing on our redevelopment.

But using the collections that we have to be more appropriately showcased in our education area particularly, the school education area has gone really strongly, particularly the Antarctica exhibition that we have had for some time and the Aboriginal exhibition, Ningenneh Tunapry, which we opened last December.  That has had an outstanding response from both the Aboriginal community and the students and community groups that have gone through.

Ms O'BYRNE - It has won a national award as well.

Mr BLEATHMAN - The bark canoe, which is the centre of that exhibition, won the ACT Government's Knowledge Management Gold Award for the most outstanding cultural retrieval program in the nation last year, which we are really proud of.  It is a great thing.

Mr FINCH - So was that generated by your own staff, that exhibition?

Mr BLEATHMAN - Yes it certainly was.  We established a Tasmanian Aboriginal Advisory Council about four years ago made up of prominent Tasmanian Aboriginal people to advise the trustees of the museum and government on all aspects of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture and broader indigenous cultures within the museum.  We work with them and certainly the Aboriginal community that they represent to develop that Ningenneh Tunapry exhibition.

Every word was written by them and endorsed by the community and it is an exhibition that shows not only historical Tasmanian Aboriginal culture but a contemporary, vibrant Aboriginal community that is around today.  There are five separate Aboriginal education programs and they are booked out for the remainder of this year with school groups.  But they are delivered by Tasmanian Aboriginal people, not museum workers.  Museum workers support the Aboriginal people in the delivery of those programs, which have been outstandingly well received.

[4.45 p.m.]
Ms O'BYRNE - My former chief of staff is famous for his action-man shot in the contemporary Aboriginal community display.

Mr FINCH - I am just wondering, Minister, too, through you, does the museum set a target for exhibitions that are generated in-house or one a year, one every two years?  Or do you fill in the gaps between touring exhibitions?  How does your process work?

Mr BLEATHMAN - We try to upgrade one of the more substantial themes of the museum every two years.  Between the upgrade every two years we suffer a lack of travelling exhibitions and other shows.  We also look at minor modifications and changes as we go through.  We are about to start work on the geology gallery within the museum.  We are upgrading that - it has not been upgraded for ages.  It is almost a museum exhibit in its own right.  But it will be upgraded.  We have just finished upgrading the money and metals gallery at the museum and those sorts of things.  Certainly as the redevelopment kicks in, those sort of changes will be less because what will open at the end of the redevelopment is a major new show across all aspects of the museum. 

Mr FINCH - Is there money allocated too for the marketing of when something is renovated?  Do you then go out and promote that again to let people know that it has been rejuvenated?

Mr BLEATHMAN - Yes, we treat every redevelopment or every new exhibition as a separate project and we look at that project as a complete whole.  We develop a budget for that project made up of Government money and we go out to sponsors, philanthropists and supporters to get funding or in-kind support from them and then we deliver the program.  We have people monitoring that budget all the way through.  Certainly marketing and promotion is important.  We have some really good networks within the State and it does not cost us a great deal of money to do that.  It is always one area that needs to be strengthened and emphasised more, but we seem to be going okay at the moment. 

Mr FINCH - Thank you.