Building the Museum of Tomorrow – Insights from the launch of Mahuki, Te Papa’s Innovation Hub     

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Tui Te Hau, Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand

For almost two decades, Te Papa has challenged expectations of what a museum can be. This year we pushed out even further with the launch of Mahuki, our culture-sector Innovation accelerator.

A structured entrepreneurial program, Mahuki is run annually over 5 months where up to ten teams (or 40 individuals) work on sustainable solutions for challenges facing cultural institutions globally.

Through Mahuki, Te Papa has made a bold investment, recognizing that innovation is experimental and higher risk than core business. Even though we undertook extensive market research, Mahuki has still been a lesson in trusting our instincts and building a program iteratively. Now that we have completed our first program, our instincts proved right and we are reaping rewards. Some of which were unexpected, like the deep insights and research the teams have uncovered and shared with us. The longer term impact of Mahuki in terms of sustainable business development and contribution to the wider cultural sector will take longer to present. Our choice to take equity in the teams will also take time to see if we realize a financial benefit.

Mahuki has also challenged traditional perceptions of the role of a museum. We saw the potential for Te Papa to play a new role and leverage its assets, international brand and networks to contribute to our nation’s economic and creative prosperity.