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Dowse Director awarded Winston Churchill Fellowship

Author: Katrina Smit, Communication & Relationships Manager

As one of 15 recipients of a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2015, our Director Courtney Johnston is about to leave on a research trip to visit museums and galleries in seven American cities.

The Dowse's director, Courtney Johnston, is about to depart on a whirlwind tour of American museums and art galleries, with the generous support of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship and the Hutt City Council.

Between 7 September and 2 October Courtney will visit seven American cities, with meetings scheduled at the following organisations:

Courtney will also be visiting newly-opened museums, including the Whitney in New York and the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and attending the MuseumNext conference in Indianapolis.

Courtney's research falls into three main areas: innovative Friends and membership programmes; community outreach programmes focused on supporting people on the autism spectrum and people with dementia; and ways digital technology is being used to enrich people's visits to museums.

She says the trip will be a whirlwind, with so many locations in a short period of time, but very energising.

"Not only will I be reconnecting with many people I've met through my work in the cultural/digital sector, I've also strategically sought out museums who are doing outstanding things in cities that are (relatively!) off the beaten track. For example, I'm really excited about visiting the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, as I've been told their community engagement work is superlative. I'm looking forward to getting to experience all the cutting-edge projects I've heard about in the last few years as a physical visitor, rather than a virtual one."

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust places a strong emphasis on recipients sharing the knowledge they gain on their travels, and Courtney already has several presentations booked, including a keynote address at the Museums and the Web Asia conference in Melbourne and the National Digital Forum in Wellington, both in October, and an event at the National Library of New Zealand in November. As a member of the Museums Aotearoa board, Courtney looks forward to sharing what she has learned with colleagues throughout the country. She is also delighted that several local groups have already asked her to come and speak about her trip at their meetings, as this is another way to share the benefits of the generous support she has received.

Throughout the trip Courtney will be posting updates on The Dowse's Facebook page, so if you want a vicarious experience, start following us now.

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