Young woman aims to increase visitors to museum

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When Emma Andy secured a job at the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) straight out of university four years ago, she saw her role as “a cultural ambassador of my country and our people.”

As the Public Relations Officer for NMAG in Port Moresby, Emma plays a critical role in promoting the museum to local and international visitors as an institution of knowledge and cultural identity.

“NMAG preserves over 100,000 artefacts and it is my job to attract visitors to the museum, so they can learn more about our country and enjoy the diverse items on display,” she said.

“Part of the education and public program section of the museum, I work with graphic designers, photographers, audio visual artists, education officers and gallery attendants. We are the face of the museum and are responsible for selling the product.”

The 28-year-old from Matupit village in East New Britain graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with a Bachelor of Arts in 2015 and was initially engaged by NMAG as an exhibition officer before taking on the public relations role a year later.

Emma was recently one of 30 communications professionals from government departments and civil society organisations who attended media training in Port Moresby, with the support of Australia through the Media Development Initiative (MDI).

Held in early June, the one-day workshop covered communication planning, stakeholder mapping, key message development, writing for different audiences, and risk and crisis management.

Since the training, Emma has been keen to put into practice the skills she learned to raise the profile of the museum.

“The training taught me about effective planning and targeted key messages, which had been missing previously,” said Emma.

“You need to speak the same language and ensure what you say is clearly received by your audience. People working in public relations and communications have a responsibility to share knowledge, tell the story and are a key part of the organisation’s wider plan.”

After an extensive refurbishment funded by Australia, the museum reopened to the public in November 2018 and has since seen an average of 1,400 visitors per month.

A resolute Emma and the team at NMAG are now embarking on an extensive communications and marketing strategy to increase local and international visitor numbers by 40 per cent next year.

“We are aiming to increase our social media presence as well as improve our current school programs, which target city primary schools,” explains Emma.

Since 2018, MDI has supported the growth of over 200 media and communications personnel across the country. A key focus of the program is upskilling journalists at the National Broadcasting Corporation and other media organisations to create content that accurately reflects PNG society and is inclusive of all citizens.

MDI team leader Hare Haro said the program aims to strengthen voice and accountability in PNG.

“Media provides citizens with a range of platforms to express their views and to facilitate government responsiveness. We want more citizen voices to be heard and to give leaders the opportunity to respond to those voices,” she said.

For Emma, she believes her role at the museum connects people to the country’s rich culture and history, providing a foundation for future development.

“I want more Papua New Guineans to know the story of their country. I believe that to know where we are going as a nation, we need to know where we have come from. The museum provides that platform. It acts as a guide for a young nation that is striving to develop.”

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