Why Te Papa? Why is it that our national museum should draw such international attention and regard? At the International Council of Museum Conference in Kyoto 2019 Dr. Rick West (citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, just retired CEO of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, and founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian) used Te Papa as an example when arguing for a much-broadened definition of ‘museum’. The answer lies in ‘cultural fit.’
Ken Gorbey will develop this idea with reference to the founding principles and realisation of Te Papa in the time of his involvement during the 1980s and 90s, and will suggest in what directions it might continue to grow in the coming decades. He will reference cultural projects about the world, including the Jewish Museum Berlin.
Ken Gorbey held the position of Director of Waikato Museum 1970 to 1983. From 1985 to 1999 he had many different roles in establishing Te Papa (the National Museum of New Zealand). Finally, as Director of Museum Projects, he was responsible for the visitor experience. As Project Director and Deputy President he then opened the Jewish Museum Berlin (1999 to 2002).
His work includes a wide variety of cultural and tourism projects, including performing arts centres, urban renewal, historic sites and precincts, an arboretum, and cultural tourism attractions, as well as assisting the creation of new, and the re-engineering of existing, galleries and museums. These projects range from the very small community-based to large multi-million dollar developments in Russia, Germany, Australia, the States, and Mexico as well as New Zealand. They include a number of projects working with Iwi and Hapū authorities. His memoir Te Papa to Berlin has been published by Otago University Press. CNZM, Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse des Verdienstordens.
Banner image: Jüdisches Museum Berlin Birthday Cake. Image provided and reproduced courtesy of K. Gorbey