Aratoi’s Director, Susanna Shadbolt, has been appointed to the role of CEO of Te Manawa Museums Trust in Palmerston North. Susanna has been Director for the past six years and will be leaving Aratoi in early July.
Susanna has seen many changes over the last six years. She is really proud of the way she has changed the public perception of Aratoi as a community institution. She has achieved this by supporting the local communities and in turn they support Aratoi. Susanna has developed and maintained strong relationships with stakeholders that will leave Aratoi in a good space for the next Director.
Susanna has brought several high-quality exhibitions to Aratoi, including taonga Māori exhibitions and shows highlighting local and national contemporary artists. She has encouraged the development and showcasing of Aratoi collections and introduced a free education programme for all schools
A good example is the 50th anniversary exhibition that she relates “was just so amazing, because it was all about Aratoi, the collection and our community. It was a great team effort and looked amazing. We published a book that tells our story and that we can still cherish for years to come. The opening event was a real celebration of our community coming together; great vibes.” Her first project at Aratoi was developing the exhibition Te Marae o Rongotaketake - Redressing our Kahungunu History, an important exhibition in partnership with Ngāti Kahungunu. It was the largest exhibition of Ngāti Kahungunu taonga ever on display and filled the entire museum.
“It has always been important that Aratoi continues to challenge visitors but also keep exhibitions accessible” she explains, “You’ve got to work with your audience. We tell stories about locals for locals, but we try to challenge attitudes and broaden ideas at the same time.”
Susanna has held positions at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Te Manawa, and Massey University teaching Museum Studies. Initially joining Aratoi as Curator/Registrar, then taking on the Acting Director position in November 2016, Susanna had eight months to road-test the role before taking it on officially.
Susanna says, “I will miss the people the most. It’s a beautiful environment here. Everyone is so enthusiastic and positive and a very lively town and community. The staff are fantastic, so talented and they love making Aratoi a special place for the region.”
“It was tough during the COVID pandemic, but we are a very versatile team that wear a lot of different hats. We just couldn’t operate without our volunteers, they help bring the museum to life.” Susanna says.
Chair of Aratoi, David Moriarty said.
“We are very sad to be losing Susanna as Director. Through her tireless efforts and dedication Susanna has been a driving force for Aratoi for the past six years. She leaves us with very big shoes to fill and I know all our stakeholders will be sorry to see her go.
Having said that, we are pleased for Susanna in that she is moving to a larger role which will offer her new challenges, continue her outstanding career path, and enable her to live closer to her work and to spend more time with her family. All at Aratoi wish Susanna every success in in her new role.”
The recruitment process for a new Director will begin shortly.