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Institutions in the spotlight: SIT manager influencing museums

Invercargill is having a say on the future of public museums around the world.

Southern Institute of Technology Arts programme manager Kathryn Mitchell has returned from a trip to the 7th Annual International Conference on the Inclusive Museum in Los Angeles last month.

The annual conference draws people who are passionate about ensuring public museums are accessible for all people.

Mitchell was there to present ideas from her research about how museums can engage communities effectively.

"Probably the highlight was trying to think about what museums need to be today," she said.

In Invercargill, Mitchell has worked on collaborative projects with south city artists and Aurora College students to create community art projects, including the art project along the Elles Rd Skate Park fence.

Mitchell presented her paper "Performing the DIY Museum: Shirting the Frame of Conception, Production and Representation" at the conference and discussed Eilean Hooper-Greenhill's notion of museums not being limited by their own walls but moving for the needs of the community.

Museums currently ran on a modernist European mentality of the decisions being made by the staff wants instead of being based on research on user behaviour, Mitchell said.

While in LA, the conference took attendees on a tour of the Natural History Museum to show how the museum is developing community programmes, including ZomBee Watch, a study of the zombie fly infected honey bees where participants can become ZomBee hunters and contribute to research.

Mitchell's trip to the conference was inspirational and would help her continue to develop her own research, she said.

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