We're sure we're not alone when we say that Stephanie Gibson is one of our favourite people in the sector. She was particularly influential for Nina back when she was a Masters placement student and then a (temporary) fully-fledged employee with the History team at Te Papa. Stephanie was endlessly helpful, kind and welcoming - attributes which are no small thing to a nervous young sprout at the beginning of their career.
Aside from that her fresh, open and collaborative approach to collecting and curating is inspiring. This is someone who cares deeply about taonga, people and communities.
In five words, describe your role in the sector.
History curator, community facilitator, museologist (not sure that’s a word!)
What is it about the sector that you love?
I love the endless possibilities and opportunities. I love the fascinating work and research, particularly meeting people and sharing their stories and taonga. No two days are the same, and I’m continually surprised and challenged. I’m inspired by the literature and constant striving of the sector to matter and be relevant to all parts of society.
What have been some challenges in your career?
One of the biggest challenges is practical – how to balance the enormous deadline-driven demands of exhibition projects with collection work, research and publishing etc. I have always believed that no matter what stage I’m at in my career, it’s important to reflect on our practice and document it when possible – so we can share our mistakes and successes, and leave behind a public record.
Another challenge has been navigating the complexity of the cultural sector, particularly working in a large national museum with many different perspectives, agendas and pressures (and within a context of frequent restructuring!)
What challenges can you see moving forward?
I think a key challenge moving forward is for museums to be relevant and useful, and for all members across the sector to really believe in and engage with this paradigm, and not be afraid of how messy things might get on the way.
What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?
The latest thinking, optimism, can-do attitude, buckets of energy!
What is your spirit animal?
The kea – partly because I love watching and hearing kea when I’m tramping in the mountains down south, and partly because of their traits – they love all things novel, they’re highly gregarious, they live long, and they’re intelligent!