The Mixing Room, Te Papa Tongarewa
Wellington, New Zealand
The 2010 theme for International Museums Day is ‘Museums for Social Harmony’. Museums are many things to many people– storehouses of culture, material history and repositories of memory. Human history is not a chronicle of social harmony, quite the contrary. Social harmony seems to something we can only strive for, something to believe in, perhaps as some time gone by or a moment in the future. Harmony does not capture our imagination the way conflict does. Just look at the news. This is history in process- there is often little good to celebrate.
The best effort I have seen recently by a museum to promote social harmony is The Mixing Room at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, New Zealand. This exhibition explores the journeys of refugee families coming to NZ to build a new life. The photos are disturbing and moving to see, and the stories are even more heart-wrenching to read. They give space to many different people from all over the world who have lived through war, famine, and political unrest who all ended up in the little shaky islands in the Deep South Pacific.
There are also stories about what they found when they arrived, the fear of an unknown place, the hardships of fitting in, and the kind people who helped them on their new paths. It is the story of family, the people we know personally and our extended relatives who we have yet to meet. For me, this is the sort of exhibition that can uplift an entire country, make it reflect and embrace the reasons it can be great.
For us at Girl Museum Inc, museums are places to see things differently, spaces of discovery of past/present creativity and knowledge, challenging the status quo of history and illuminating the voices of those unheard. For us it is girls. For us museums and social harmony means doing everything we can to raise awareness about girls in danger, in need, and in celebration.
We invite everyone to visit our site, explore our exhibitions, send us suggestions for projects you would like to see or ones you have done you are interested in submitting.
— Ashley E. Remer
Girl Museum Inc.