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January 2010

From Wales to New Zealand

Posted by Dafydd James on 13 January 2010

As you may have seen reported in the press, I have decided to take up the post of Chief Executive at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. It has been far from easy to reach this decision for a variety of personal and professional reasons; and, to say that it represents a big step would be something of an understatement.

It has been a privilege to serve as Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru. During this time, I have truly come to appreciate how integral culture is to Wales's national psyche and how we should never lose sight of its importance in underpinning Welsh society and shaping the nation’s future. Our recent work regarding the positive contribution our museums make to Wales highlighted this fact, and we are committed as an organisation to working with other cultural organisations in Wales to take this research forward. Wales has strong cultural assets, and there is a job to be done in turning these into a more distinct brand and marketing them more effectively, both within Wales and beyond. There is a real danger, particularly during recession, of thinking that it’s not worth worrying about culture but it is incredibly important to our country and our economy.

I am excited about the challenges and different perspectives that I will face in this new role, but undoubtedly my approach will be shaped by my experiences here in Wales and Northern Ireland. Museums can't shy away from telling national stories, no matter how intricate or controversial they may be, and Te Papa is world famous for its innovative approach to demonstrating how culture and community memory has moulded the history and identity of New Zealand's communities.

I won't be leaving immediately. Over the next six months, I will continue to update this blog and look forward to remaining involved with a variety of projects including St Fagans and the redevelopment of the West Wing.

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