The Northern Territory’s Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chansey Paech has announced the appointment of Tracy Puklowski to the role of Senior Director, National Aboriginal Art Gallery planned for Alice Springs.
She’ll start in the job on 24 May 2021 and will be responsible for leading the delivery of one of the biggest investments into Alice Springs in decades.
In her role as Senior Director, Ms Puklowski will be responsible for leading a project team of five officers with various skills across curatorial, engagement and project management, and will be responsible for ‘inputting’ into the design of the NAAG, developing the content and programming in the gallery, and engaging with stakeholders in Alice Springs and nationally to ensure the ongoing success of the gallery.
Tracy Puklowski has an extensive background and passion for the arts, museum and culture sector, which is, demonstrated throughout her career in which she has held senior roles at major art galleries, museums, and libraries, mainly in New Zealand.
However, she is currently the General Manager of Creative Arts and Cultural Services at the City of Launceston in Tasmania, a portfolio that includes being Director of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) – Australia’s largest regional museum – and the development of a cultural strategy for the City of Launceston.
Prior to that, she was Director of the National Army Museum of New Zealand, where she led a strategic realignment of the organisation. And before that, she was Associate Director at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, where she was responsible for the exhibition ‘Gallipoli: the scale of our war’ – the country’s most successful exhibition in recent history. Other roles have included Associate Chief Librarian at the National Library of New Zealand, and General Manager of Te Papa’s national partnerships unit.
According to her LinkedIn entry, Tracy is a graduate of the highly competitive Getty Museum Leadership Institute. She is passionate about using values-based models to drive transformational change and the role of culture in thriving communities. With extensive experience in bicultural and multicultural environments, Tracy is committed to contemporary, inclusive practice.
When she moved to Launceston in 2018, she was reported by the ‘Examiner‘ for her interest in, and work around First Nations culture, which was the primary focus of her role at the Museum of New Zealand.Â But she said that despite her expertise, her strategy in fostering Tasmanian First Nation people’s culture and storiesÂ is first and foremost to listen. They’re not my stories to tell, she said.Â It’s all about relationships, it’s about how you work together, and it’s about listening.
When I was at the National Museum, that was created as a bi-cultural museum, and so that meant that the Indigenous worldview was woven into every aspect of what we did. That’s what could be achieved here. But I don’t want to be the ˜colonialist’ coming in and saying ˜yes, I can make this happen’. It’s very much not up to me. I can provide the conditions, but it’s up to who wants to work with us and who wants to share their stories -Â and we’reÂ very blessed to have a very supportive and knowledgeable Aboriginal Reference Group at the museum.Â
This is a lady who moves fast! Just a little over two years in Launceston, and it was only on March 15th she was tweeting that she’d moved into a new house there big enough for her art collection.
In a quote attributed to her, Ms Puklowski says: The events of 2020 reminded us all of the power of art to bring communities together and provide space for healing. I commend the Northern Territory Government for having a vision that puts Indigenous art and knowledge at the heart of Mparntwe, and indeed the country”.
A challenging final thought from the new Senior Director, NAAG: The museum leaders that I most admire are the ones who have been bold and forged a new path.Â Museums affect change;Â I think museums can be transformational.
Good luck – for the NAAG has been at least three years under discussion and its siting is still subject to dispute between Traditional Owners, the City Council and the NT Government.