Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History celebrates the significant contributions of our Collection Manager Bronwyn Reid who is retiring. She has served the institution – and the Wairarapa community as a whole - for 24 years.
“It’s been a fantastic job. I’ve learned so much,” said Bronwyn. “I have felt proud to be part of the team that has served as the guardian of many taonga.”
“Bronwyn has an almost encyclopaedic - yet intimate – knowledge of the Aratoi Collection and its links with our communities,” said Aratoi Director Susanna Shadbolt. ”She has served the community exceptionally well over the years, telling the stories of our region and beyond with intelligence and care, caring for Taonga with devotion and meticulous attention, and working untold hours on so many exhibitions and catalogues, including Aratoi’s recent 50th anniversary exhibition and publication.”
Aratoi Regional Trust Board Member Carlene Te Tau (Rangitāne o Wairarapa) acknowledges the mana that Bronwyn Reid has held at the museum, and in the community. “Many whānau bring items to Aratoi because they know they will be cared for, and cherished. Bronwyn has been respectful of our Taonga, and we are grateful for her care and expertise.”
Bronwyn began her employment at Aratoi in 1996 as a weekend minder. She had been studying design and art at the Wairarapa Polytechnic, which served her well in communicating with visitors about the exhibitions on show.
Her job quickly expanded, with her role including the installation of exhibitions, the management of the collection, and a myriad of tasks with the 2002 rebuild when the Wairarapa Arts Centre developed into a full museum.
Managing the collection is no small feat: Aratoi has close to 4,000 items of regional, national and international significance, from taonga Māori and social history to artworks from the colonial to the contemporary. Each item is documented, receives an individual accession number, and requires a significant amount of research to learn the stories and context. They also require a climate- and pest-controlled environment and earthquake-proofed storage.
And the Collection is growing. The Wairarapa and Wellington community has generously increased its support in recent years, particularly with donations of contemporary art. In 2019, there was a 300% increase in donations to the Collection.
“The Aratoi Collection is a wonderful community asset. It is here for the benefit of the community, and the museum as a whole is vital, especially for children, to learn more about Wairarapa – there is no other public collection of art in the region.”
Many people ask Bronwyn what her favourite item is in the Collection. She says she cannot possibly choose just one. “Sometimes the huia, sometimes an 1870s Bragge photograph, a Lindauer portrait or a John Drawbridge mezzotint – it’s the objects’ stories that engage me.”
What might the future bring for Bronwyn? “I am looking forward to being a maker again, rather than an observer – printmaking and painting beckon.”