Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Last days of the dictator

Vanda Vitali's disastrous reign as Director of the Auckland War Memorial Museum will end tomorrow.

For anyone interested in the study and preservation of New Zealand's natural and cultural history, the last couple of weeks have been worrying times. The National government's decision to yoke together the Turnbull Library and the National Archive, shedding jobs and possibly documents in the process, has alarmed scholars, and Gerry Brownlee's undisguised hunger for the gold and silver that lies below our national parks has had veteran environmentalists reaching for their banners and their megaphones.

Now, though, New Zealand's heritage sector has something to celebrate - the imminent departure of Vanda Vitali from the Auckland War Memorial Museum she has ruled as a private fiefdom since late 2007. In a new statement circulated by her lawyers, who have been fighting attempts by the Museum Board to unseat her, Vitali has pledged to leave her office on or before April the 9th. She will lose her powers as Director tomorrow.

Vitali arrived at Auckland's museum in the aftermath of a building programme which had given the institution new assets like a huge atrium and a euphonious lecture hall; her own tastes, though, ran more to deconstruction, and within a few months of her inauguration as Director scores of long-time workers had been dismissed, whole departments had been mothballed, and core services like the acquisition of valuable artefacts had been suspended.

These changes were rendered all the more traumatic by Vanda's failure to justify them with anything resembling rational argument. The 'strategy statements' and 'vision documents' which filtered out of her office were a curious mixture of corporate doublespeak and New Age gobbledygook, and quite as impenetrable as the sayings of Kim Jong-il or the Green Book of Muammar Gaddaffi.

Like all dictators, Vanda became increasingly isolated during her time in power. Her Vulcan-like contempt for the niceties of everyday conversation and her complete innocence of employment law quickly helped build a large and dynamic union branch at the museum. Her references to the Polynesian artefacts held by the museum as 'old stuff' and her proposal to create more office space by moving this 'stuff' to the museum's underground carpark soon had many Maori involved with the institution recalling the depredations nineteenth century imperialists had visited on their taonga. Vanda's public stoush with the children of Sir Edmund Hillary, who had the temerity to try to enforce the rights their father's will had given them over some of his personal effects, earned her the opprobrium of the public at large.

Vanda's falling out with the Museum Board that had bravely or blindly backed her though multiple crises and publication relations disasters made her departure from the museum inevitable. The falling-out was precipitated by former Vanda loyalists making devastating secret representations to the Board about their boss' incompetence and uncontrollable spite. With a certain reluctance, the Board's members were forced to see that their former favourite had become a threat to the very future of the institution they were entrusted to run.

Vanda is not going gently. The Board wanted her gone in the New Year but, with the help of a very expensive legal team - paid for, of course, out of the public purse - she has managed to eke out a last few miserable months as Director. Despised by most museum staff, avoided by the middle management that is supposed to be attentive to her whims, and increasingly distrusted even by the carpetbaggers she flew south from her old fiefdom at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Vanda has spent much of this year in her bunker-like office, devising increasingly bizarre plans to secure her 'legacy' and punish her critics.

In January Vanda took a knife to the museum's acclaimed Discovery Centre by announcing plans to sack of most of its permanent staff. The Discovery Centre was set up to give small children a place to visit and learn without disrupting the rest of the museum; it is filled with toys and games that are at once fun and educational, and it has traditionally been staffed by men and women with some experience in early childhood education. Without citing any research, and without so much as consulting the Museum Board, Vanda decided that Discovery Centre staff were superfluous, and that some of the customer hosts who man tills at the entrances to the museum could be drafted in to supervise the hundreds of children who fill the Centre every day. It is perhaps not a coincidence that some of the strongest critics of Vanda's policies have worked at the Discovery Centre.

Aware of her unpopularity with the the Auckland public and with key museum stakeholder groups, Vanda has this year used public money to hire a private public relations firm to attempt to repair her image. A 'charm offensive' has been planned, and key figures in the Auckland media have had the dubious privilege of supping with Vanda. Last Friday, for instance, Vanda and her handlers met with Tim Murphy, the editor of the New Zealand Herald, and his senior reporter John Roughan. It is not clear, though, whether any newspaper editor or radio host is prepared to put their head on the block by defending a figure so discredited and disliked as Vanda Vitali. Certainly, media coverage of her travails has continued to be unsympathetic.

Frustrated by the media's failure to sing her praises, Vanda has attempted to engineer her own electronic PR campaign from the fastness of her bunker. Russell Briggs, the head of Communications and IT at the museum, was compelled to use the museum computers to set up a very complicated system of RSS feeds in an effort to make positive references to Vanda more prominent on the internet. The system ensured that, every time someone clicked on a positive story about Vanda from a museum computer, that story rose up google's rankings, and became more likely to find a prominent place amidst the results of a google search. For days on end, the unhappy Briggs was forced by Vanda to sit in his office at his computer, wield his mouse, and click again and again on museum press releases and other texts containing positive references to Vanda.

Despite the Herculean efforts of Briggs, Vanda found to her horror that the most popular online story about her hailed not from her propaganda office but from an obscure blog called Reading the Maps. Briggs' recent farcical attempts to create a wikipedia paean to Vanda were motivated, it seems, by a desire to stop the Reading the Maps article being the first piece of information a google search using Vanda's name conjured up.

All dictators are ultimately ridiculous, and it is easy to chuckle at some of the antics of Vanda. We should not forget, though, the very profound damage she has done, in a mere two and a half years, to an institution which has a special place in the lives of so many Aucklanders and New Zealanders. In an e mail to me last week, a museum employee reflected on the legacy Vanda will leave:

Vanda is mad...It is incredible how much damage she has done to the museum. Countless staff are simply unable to do their jobs because of time-consuming processes that then inevitably lead to her making every single decision, often at a whim without explanation. I'm sure you know what a terrible need to control everything she has.

Hamish Keith, who spotted the danger that Vanda Vitali posed early on, has called for the Board that appointed her to be dismissed, and for an official inquiry to be held into the mess she has created. Keith's call should be supported by everyone who wants to make sure that the blunders and insults of the Vitali era are never repeated.

47 Comments:

Blogger Russell Brown said...

Wow.

I suppose it's only fair to note that one very good thing happened under her management: the Late at the Museum events have turned the museum into a public space for talking, thinking and culture.

The rest of it, hmmm ...

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will be lots of smiling faces at the museum today!

3:22 pm  
Blogger Laurna said...

hi there
I'm trying to get in touch with the person who wrote this blog. My name is Laurna White and I work for tvone's breakfast programme 09 916 7271 or 0274 919 388
cheers
Laurna

3:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh great maps, maybe now you'll get to have an interview with Paul Henry!

3:58 pm  
Blogger Timespanner said...

Keep us informed as to your publicity developments, Maps!

5:00 pm  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

Congratulations Scott! You have, in no small measure, contributed to this happy event.

5:09 pm  
Blogger stephen said...

Breakfast? Big time! Personally, I would agree only on condition that I not be in the same room as Paul Henry, lest an unfortunate transfer of credibility take place. I think you'd be better off being interviewed by a trained chimp, who would have better manners, more gravitas, and offer to groom you.

5:10 pm  
Anonymous mike said...

Maps, well done on your fearless reporting of the Vitali issue.

This kind of rootless cosmopolitan has only two loyalties - to their own personal career and to helping maintain the aura of expertise/professionalism surrounding their "field".

5:23 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Maps - all I can say is, you helped get rid of a wart & hooberloodyray!

I'd say an enquiry into her appointment is long overdue - especially, into whoever thought a Canadian (not especially high-ranking in her field) was thought A Good Choice -when she demonstrabably knew buggerall about ANZ.

7:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of celebrations happening around the globe. In one right now!

7:00 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Well played, sir. We shall not see her like again, we can hope.

7:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my view I have seen the Board of the Museum working long and hard to remove Ms V from her perch. Unfortunately her talons were very strong and her claws were driven deep into the flesh of the Museum. She was not removed in time to stop further damage to the carcass as noted in your post.

9:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well at least Vanda Vitali brought an atmosphere of glamour to Auckland! You people are soooo provincial!

9:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hot new picture of vanda here:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3459239/Auckland-Museum-head-quits-suddenly\
all that hatred...and she's shining!

9:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was supposed to be announced tomorrow morning. What did you think you'd gain from leaking it now?

11:05 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Sigh. A whole wee strut of anonimi - probably all the same poster - saying buggerall.

Tho' I really like the one who wailed about Vitali bringing "'an atmosphere of glamour to Auckland'" -dear, even in darkest South Westland she wouldnt have a place in an aftermatch function of the Wild Foods shindig-

11:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope that scientific research and the curation expertise behind the scenes at the museum are now encouraged to thrive once again.

8:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Vanda achieved some kind of balance at the museum. She dumbed it down AND f*cked it up...

8:21 am  
Blogger kate said...

concerning to me were the increasing gaps in the permanent collection that none of the staff i asked were able to explain. whoever tweets one there behalf was eager to try - but could only name where three of the taonga (out of 9) were. that, on top of what you've delinated here Maps, made me one very worried historian. I concur with RB re LATE; but also with Hamish Keith just now on nine till noon: museums are not events centres; they are the locus of cultural memory.

9:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Ngati Whatua leader says departing Auckland Museum director Vanda Vitali brought the museum to life and it is sad she is going.

Naida Glavish says she has been impressed with the way Dr Vitali has involved iwi in activities at the museum, by her concern for taonga and her commitment to making the museum a place relevant to all. She also applauds the museum's hosting of debates on the Treaty of Waitangi.

Naida Glavish says the region is losing someone who has contributed much, but still had much more to give.

10:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vanda weakened the institutional foothold Maori had recently gained in the museum after decades of striving by abolishing the post of Maori Director (and forcing the holder of that post out using the most thuggish means) and sacking numerous Maori staff, including one of the Maori conservators and a Maori technician. She also put a ban on the acquisition of new Maori taonga.

10:59 am  
Blogger Jack Ross said...

Actually I think the most cogent opinions on her departure to date have come from Mayor Bob Harvey. Far from "supporting her", as TV3 erroneously reported last night, he merely commented that she was a hired hatchetwoman employed by an unscrupulous museum board to clean out the brilliant (but expensive) staff of conservators and experts who had gathered in that beneficent institution over the decades.

It's an old technique of dictators: get someone else to introduce your policies - Beria, Hess - then disown them when public indignation mounts. (Rather like John Key with the threatened disestablishment of free goldcard public transport last week).

Of course it's great to see her go, but it's no real victory when the scum who put her there and supported her for three years are still smiling and looking "statesmanlike" in their comfy boardroom.

11:39 am  
Blogger maps said...

I think Jack makes an important point. Vanda was hired from a very large number of applicants by the Board, and there was a strong suspicion, for a long time, that she had taken part of her agenda from the Board.

The 'restructuring' process which Vanda launched so soon after taking office was widely seen as an exercise in culling staff members who had aggrieved the Board, or who were considered to be in some way 'difficult'.

As a union delegate at the museum trying to stop or slow down the mass sacking of workers I was aware of numerous appeals to the Board made by both union and non-union workers. The Board was utterly indifferent, though, to the loss of staff with hundreds of years' experience between them. You couldn't get a bus ticket between the Board and Vanda in 2007and 2008.

I suspect the Board has only acted now because, as Vanda's own loyalists have revealed after defecting from her camp, the museum is close to total collapse, with administration in chaos, the permanent collection being neglected because of understaffing and red tape, and no new acquisitions being made for eighteen months.

Hamish Keith is right to demand the sacking of the Board and an independent inquiry into the mess at the museum. There needs to be a public discussion about what the focus of the museum should be, about how the board is selected and about how it can be made more represetative of the community the museum serves, and about the ways workers at the museum can and cannot be treated.

I'm sorry to disappoint Paul Henry fans, but I couldn't be persuaded to get out of bed at seven this morning to listen to his nonsense close-up (it takes a *lot* to get me out of bed at seven!). I've heard that this blog post got used in a discussion about the crisis at the museum on National Radio's Nine to Noon show today, though, and I think that's great, because National Radio is one of the few parts of the mass media where an issue this complex might possibly be discussed properly.

12:41 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Imma let you finish, but has anyone else noticed that female characters in news dramas are always referred to by their forenames, while men are always known by their surnames? The ousted one is is known as Vanda here and elsewhere, not Vitali. Had she been Frank Vitali, man of letters, would we be referring to him as Frank?

I don't want to come down with the whole PoMo PC thing, but referring to people you don't know by their forenames is a bit patronising. It is how one refers to servants and small children.

12:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the neglect the staff have suffered under Vitali. I think the board owes the staff, remaining and gone, an apology. They have worked passionately over years, making the Museum what it is (or was before Vitali) - why are they hardly mentioned in the press? It seems to be all about the board and the Director - the vast amount of hours, knowledge and passion have been contributed by the staff - many of whom have been fired.

1:44 pm  
Anonymous Eileen Clarke said...

The most poignant moment for me yesterday was the absolute delight and excitment displayed by my seven year old grand daughter when she heard the announcement on the six o'clock news that Vanda Vitali was leaving the Museum. For three years, this child, who has an intimate relationship with the Museum, her mother has been Curator Maori there for the past decade,has watched with great sensitivity and sadness as her mother and her mother's highly respected professional colleagues - fellow curators, former senior conservators, educators and not least, the former Maori Values Team, have been treated in the most appallingly patronising and dismissive manner under the Vitali regime.
She may not have understood all of the complexities surrounding the many issues that arose under that dictatorship, but with the innocence, clarity and perception of the child, she understood fully its damaging impact in so many ways on people she cared for deeply, openly and unconditionally.

Whilst we can, and will (the boil having been finally lanced), make cogent museological, cultural, political and economic commentary on the events of the past three years, somehow it all seems too little, too late when set alongside the child's simple delight in hearing that justice has atlast been served.

2:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Audio from Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Kathryn Ryan Nine to Noon show if you have not seen it yet.

http://tinyurl.com/yehwrfy

3:50 pm  
Blogger Pevinator said...

Obviously I do understand that the board is ultimately accountable for the strategic direction of the Museum. However I am pretty sure there have been some quite significant changes on the board in the last 9-12 months. David Hill (The Chairman who hired Vanda) left the trust board. There was a new chair and deputy chair (who were already on the board) but there was also an injection of new people with strong governance and museum experience. So ultimately I don't think it is the current Trust Board who is to "blame".

Also I have to disagree with Hamish Keith. Hamish says "a museum is not an events centre" in reference to the LATE at the Museum series. However Museum comes from muse - to make us think. LATE is a place for thought and conversation and so is a natural part of Museum programming.

7:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Pevinator that the current board is not the same as the one who appointed Vitali. In addition, the vote to appoint her was not unanimous. Some of those who were on that board and who are board members still, did not vote for her. What's to be gained from sacking the current board? Who would it benefit? I'm sure Vitali would just love to see a few more heads roll.

7:58 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Actually, Pevinator- 'museum' comes from mouseion, "an establishment recording and propagating the cultivation, by the people, of the arts and sciences. L. museum. adopted by E."

You can argue with Eric Partridge if you like-

8:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Keri h said...

Actually, Pevinator- 'museum' comes from mouseion, "an establishment recording and propagating the cultivation, by the people, of the arts and sciences. L. museum. adopted by E."

You can argue with Eric Partridge if you like"

And you, Keri h, can argue with the OED which defines 'mouseion' as "seat of the muses"...are dictionaries unavailable in the South Island?
(Hence the Latin source also, hence Joyce's 'museyroom' and so on and so on ad infinitem...

11:42 pm  
Blogger stephen said...

I realise this is a rambling divergence, but the verb "to muse" comes from Old French word for wandering aimlessly, and doesn't have anything to do with the Greek Muses. Hence musing in the museum is more or less equivalent to roaming in Rome.

(eg see http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=muse)

8:32 am  
Blogger Pevinator said...

Yes I know that Museum comes form mouseion. Which means seat of the muses or temple of the muses.

So I still stand by my point that the ultimate derivation points to thought and contemplation.

That incredibly reliable and totally infallible source of information that is Wikipedia lends its support here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muse

Also of note is ICOM's definition of a Museum as "A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment".

That is a pretty wide brief and I am sure that an event like LATE fills a purpose within this.

10:16 am  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Pevinator wrote

"However Museum comes from muse - to make us think."

I pointed out that it actually doesnt - and gave the origin of the word (cf. p 421, "Origins - A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English" Eric Partridge. Who was one of the greatest lexicologists working in English.)

I have over 150 dictionaries, including the complete OED, but if someone claims a word 'comes from', "Origins" is my first port of call.

12:00 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

150 dictionaries! I have a number but not the huge OED...hmmm...

What disturbed me was the down-grading of that children's area which was great when I took my grandson. But also the dismissive approach to Aotearoa that move or action implied.

I'm not necessarily opposed to opening up museums and innovative approaches - the old and the new is the ticket. But a museum has an historical, a preservative, and an educational importance. Also it is a memorial to kiwis of all kinds - Maori and Pakeha. It also has much science, culture (and that includes 18th to 20th Century N.Z. and older culture from elsewhere and older Maori culture and history) and many other histories of other ethnic groups.

Children's groups haven been visiting since (well I recall going there in the 50s).


And these people sack people so easily and so heartlessly - do they know that people have to pay rates and so on, buy food? That they bring knowledge of various levels and depths, put a big effort into their jobs? How terrible it is to be taken from an occupation one loves, and feels proud of, or indeed maybe need also? These people, these executives and administrators are are all over paid. Many are heartless.

The working people need to control these institutions.

11:49 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Eileen and Richard, I heartily tautoko what you both say - and Eileen, I really loved your post apropos your mokopuna- because this is the very real, the vicious damage, VV did. But - with a new board (I suspect it will take this) maybe matters can be healed?

Richard - I have the micrograph editions, so 16 +huge volumns are condensed into 6 huge volumns(the last one is in normal print.) I also have them on disc - but there is -something- about - paper, and leafing through - the first 3 volumns were courtesy of a man called Richard Vuylsteker, who *gave* them to me in Hawai'i in 1978 - I sent him books from here, but if anyone knows where he is now, I still owe him, big time-

1:16 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Nicely put Richard. While i'm not actually against the LATE events, I think the Museum was failing on several issues Pevinator listed from the Wikipedia definition. Conservation and research are probably the first two i'd mention followed by, as Richard points out, a disregard for Maori and NZ culture. While musing is great in a museum, I felt that many of its exhibits and in fact the whole approach to curating was either deliberately haphazard or focused upon the spectacle such as one might expect in a modern art gallery where things are purposefully placed out of context etc (or just plain weird and uninformative). What happened to cataloging? What happened to research?
The move to 'inspiration' at the expense of information and context is/was, in my opinion, an unnecessary move.
Good riddance to a bad egg I say.

9:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the focus continues to fall on the well-trodden Hilary embarrassment, the Bomber Command dispute and Vitali’s various callous purges of departments (finishing with the Discovery Centre team who were give their official redundancy notification less than a day before Vitali announced her own resignation), there are still many other questions to be answered. For example:
• How can it be justified the that the chief architect of the 2008 staff restructure was allowed to create a position for himself as unofficial 2IC, and then secure permanent tenure in said position?
• How can Vitali boast of the success of exhibitions such as ‘Secrets Revealed,’ when the counting system used could not differentiate between visitors entering and exiting?
• How can it be justified that Vitali openly shunned NZ artists and designers, employing North American and French design and lighting teams to produce her exhibitions? These consultants were flown to New Zealand many times over Vitali’s short tenure. What is the total cost for these consultants? And what damage has been done to Auckland Museum’s own reputation with highly-regarded NZ experts?
• How can the museum boast of the success of its ‘Late Series,’ when these events regularly run at a $25-per-head loss?
• What is the total cost of redundancies and personal grievance settlements paid out during Vitali’s tenure?
• In addition to the much-quoted figures of staff left jobless after Vitali’s first purge in 2008, how many staff have since been made redundant, or left voluntarily due to disillusionment and disgust?
• When will the much-loved Children’s Discovery Centre Tales and Treasures re-open? The gallery was closed for a refit shortly before Vitali started in 2007. Although the design had been approved by both the Trust Board and outgoing director Rodney Wilson, Vitali cancelled the project and the gallery has remained closed and empty ever since. It has recently been re-designated as a lunch room for schools
Vitali has not, however, acted alone. Yes, she has done terrible damage to a once-great organisation. Yes, she is callous, vindictive, petty and cruel. However, she has been defended by her employers up until very recently. Worse still her executive team have a great deal to answer for, because these people executed her various and increasingly unhinged orders. As an incoming Director or temporary administrator I would work very quickly to rid myself of this inner circle. They have proven their moral and ethical bankruptcy time and time again, and therefore should not be trusted.
Auckland Museum, I wish you a speedy recovery - but know there is much to heal.
Vanda Vitali, you asked for our trust 3 years ago, and have shamelessly abused it. You have been a monstrous disappointment to me personally and professionally. Shame on you.

10:45 am  
Blogger maps said...

Excellent questions, anon. I suspect an inquiry is necessary to answer them in full. I've been talking to a couple of investigative journos this week - I hope their articles for this weekend's papers will help to make it clear how much needs investigating at the museum.

4:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, reading the maps! A brilliant summary of the situation. My only comment is that the union representing museum staff is fully supporting the board. Surely the opinion of the professional museum staff is worth listening to?

5:32 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Keri h - Thank you. I have seen that smaller (micrograph) edition but I recall seeing the very large one at the Auckland Uni...I'm a bit addicted to reference books but I don't use them as much as should..to my embarrassment I had to look up tautoko which in my small Maori dictionary means support...

Actually I sell books and I ened money so once I sold a dictionary that had been done by Sir Apirana Ngata - now I happened to know about him - some years ago - strangely I found out about him on an engineering course in which I had to to English so one project in that I researched some NZrs...The Apriana Ngata book went for a good sum...

All this means that people in NZ are interested in their past and in all 'angles' of it - as indeed NZ books (old mainly, but not all old) are some of the most valuable items one can get...

I have to admit that for a long time I wasn't so interested in kiwi stuff...

But all that aside I feel the museum is good but I can see that there are so many objections to Vitali - whatever her merits if she has any - that clearly we need to be alert...we all need to be aware of what's happening to our heritage and our people in work etc

I don't really know what Late was but I cant see why the new and old cant coexist...and clearly it was hard to communicate with this Vitali person.

Who is behind this board - is it the Auckland City Council?

I pay a lot in rates I can tell you and they don't in my opinion deliver. Auckland is a mess. The beaches are often polluted by storm water overruns (I can smell it by the Tamaki estuary as I am down there about twice a week) and also sewerage (which makes a mockery of what Mayor Robinson achieved) They even try to bully me at the gates of the museum to pay but I just walk straight through them...

My grandson liked washing his hands as he exited the Maori part but as well as the Maori performance etc he liked all parts of the museum and still does..I am old now and find it rather daunting to be where there are so many people - as I am bit agoraphobic...but it is still very interesting.

11:19 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I want to clarify that - I don't mind paying rates if they are for good works, and I know that the ARA (or is it the ARC?) and the ACC do do a lot of good stuff and they have quite big costs - I have also seen (in action) good work done by the council, the water people and the ARA, I am not bitter about paying rates (or even taxes).

But I think we NZrs (and anyone in the world) need to have more control over how our rates or taxes are spent - we need closer, more detailed accounts of how exactly that money is spent - I feel that too many people in too many places at the "top" (Governments, Councils, big business etc etc) get too much money for start. Most employees get far too little in comparison.

WE the people of Auckland (indeed of the world) own the museum - not Big Money or Vitali or anyone else.

11:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the boys from the now defunct Tauranga museum did do well getting themselves on to that strange little pompous group of 'management executives'. A case of jobs for me mates? Must be rather disconcerting though if you have grandiose notions of the job you thought you were hired for and end up having to run admin. Interviewing for lowly paid receptionist duties must be deadening stuff for an 'executive'.
And what about a research manager who doesn't even know what the term 'in press' means? This in spite of all the rate payer monies poured into getting her trained. Scary! In house appointments? You betcha they need review.

8:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently the Board announced at a staff meeting that they would open the channels of communication and invited staff members to email with their thoughts. Predictably many of those recently promoted to more senior positions by VV then set about trying to gag their team members telling them not to communicate with the board. Aside from the smoke/fire analogies you certainly get the impression that the museum as an organisation still has a long way to go before it can began anything resembling a healing process.

Another interesting feature of VV's time here in Auckland is that prior to her first restructure the museum had a curators of marine, ethnology and applied arts. It also had a director of moari collections and many other equaly vital roles which did not survive the Vitali regime.Going forward the museum will need to determine whether the expertise offered by such people can play a part in a vision for its future.

1:12 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't think much of Geoff Cumming's wishy washy article in the Saturday Herald. Seduced by Vitali's cynical ploy of wining and dining the media maybe. Matt Nippert's in the Herald on Sunday was much more in the true investigative tradition.

8:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't much appreciate being referred to as a "carpetbagger", but as a former colleague of Vanda's in Los Angeles, I can say that despite all the criticisms of her, she had vision. She breathes creativity into atmospheres that are lacking. Perhaps her techniques are not appreciated, but she has panache and a style that can be appreciated.

4:51 am  
Anonymous Dr Rosemary Stewart-Beardsley said...

I only wish that I had been aware of Vitali's cintempt for those things which lie at the core of any worthwhile museum before I lent and donated material to the Auckland Museum. Sadly, I live overseas amd therefore had no idea of what was happening. Suffice to say, it took two years, many emails, a formal complaint and a trip to Auckland from regional Australia before my gifts of rare WW2 photographs were acknowledged, let alone catalogued. Let us now hope that the new director can restore some credibility to the museum's battered reputation as a respectful and responsible custodian of New Zealand history. Dr Rosemary Stewart-Beardsley

11:21 pm  

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