Museum director completes doctorate

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It’s been a labour of love and a journey of research and discovery, but Ashburton Museum director Tanya Robinson can now proudly call herself a Doctor of Philosophy.

She graduates today at a ceremony in Geelong, Australia, having completed her 100,000 word thesis.

The thesis title was “Successful partnerships between galleries, museum and cultural industries and how networks of practice can achieve strategic outcomes”.

Her study journey began in 2010 when she applied to Deakin University to undertake post graduate studies.

With an undergraduate degree in visual art and design to her name, she began as a masters student, but after two years was invited to step up to the doctorate programme.

All of her course fees and much of her study costs, including travel, have been covered by the university.

Ms Robinson said her initial application had been the hardest part of the journey.

“I applied not knowing too much about the subject I wanted to tackle, but needing to produce an application that made sense and interested my supervisors,” she said.

She said her thesis had been narrowed down and tackled because she had a real interest in the challenges faced by museums today.

“I’ve worked in the museum environment for over 20 years and over the last 10, in particular, museums have become less inwards focused and more about the community and visitors.

“Museums have been asked to do more with the same resources and have increasingly partnered with others to get more creative.”

Ms Robinson’s thesis was supervised by two academics who shared her research journey.

The journey has taken her to dozens of museums, countless exhibitions and allowed her to meet and talk with museum people.

Over the last couple of years she estimates she has spent 30 to 40 hours per week on her thesis.

“It has been a long, hard process, but it’s been very interesting.

“If you’re passionate about something, you’ll devote the time to it.”

Ms Robinson said she encouraged others to do what she has done, regardless of the level of study they chose.

“If you are curious about a subject, why not study it in detail.”

She said she hoped aspects of her thesis might benefit students in the future.