Friday, April 28, 2017

April 2017 Update

Meetings!
Northeast Regional Meeting
The first regional meeting of the Spring, this group met at the Museum of Industry on April 11th. It was quite a full house, with a few new faces which is always nice. The group did a roundtable to update everyone on various activities. Busy times over the winter, and busy times preparing for the summer season! Thanks to Andrew of MOI who gave a tour of the museum after the meeting finished. It's always great to get inspired by what other museums do.

Southwest Curators' Group Meeting
The second regional meeting was April 21st at the Kings County Museum in Kentville. Big thanks and applause to Bria and Kate for being such great hosts, and for having such a spread of snacks and
treats for everyone. Since these museums circulate reports in advance via the listserv, there was a very quick roundtable, we gave updates on ANSM activities as well as provincial and federal news, and the group had a discussion about some pressing issues in the Southwest that they wanted to address as a group. That's one of the great opportunities of regional groups - to advocate about important issues. We're all keeping fingers crossed that the letter being sent to a certain municipality will help to bring some positive results. A special guest joined the meeting for the afternoon - the inimitable Val Lenethen came out of retirement to give a talk on collections rationalization. It was a great, casual learning experience that everyone seemed to enjoy.

Central Region Heritage Group Meeting
Today was the final regional meeting of the month, hosted by the HRM Archives. Thanks to Susan for being a great host, providing treats, and for showing people around the archives after the meeting. It was another great turn out, and now we have a set of 3 photos of museum people sitting around tables. And I have just noticed that I always seem to sit in a corner...strange. Again we had a roundtable with everyone reporting on their museum's activities. So much going on!! We gave our updates, and Kellie had to lots share about HRM Municipality activities. One of the key lessons from this meeting was the importance of communicating with your local politicians. This group took on some advocacy work recently and are now waiting for final word on some additional support. When the latest news was shared, everyone was reminded that they needed to build relationships with their municipal councillors and other politicians. When it came time to advocate for support, the relationships were established and the job was much easier. A number of people chimed in about how relationships with politicians had helped their museums. So if you aren't already doing it, invite politicians to your events, send them holiday greeting cards and thank you cards when they do show up and when they do help you out. Make sure every politician in your riding, no matter if they are municipal, provincial, or federal, knows about your museum and its work.

Museums 101
We had a great group of 18 participants for our Museums 101 course, hosted by the Yarmouth County
Museum & Archives on April 6-7th. As with the regional meetings we had some new and familiar faces. We had some really good discussions. It's always more fun to facilitate when people ask questions and want to talk through things. Again we need to give a shout out to Nadine and her team for being such great hosts and especially for keeping us so well fed. The lunches and snacks kept us well energized. The next Museum Studies Certificate program course is Museums & Community and it will be happening May 25-26th at the Age of Sail Heritage Centre in Port Greville. There are still a couple spots left if you haven't registered yet, and don't be afraid to put yourself on the wait list if it is full when you try to register.

Museum Evaluation Program
Things are really ramping up with this year's evaluations. Museums are actively uploading their submissions for Documentation Review (due May 5th), and there are lots of Q&A emails being circulated for last minute tips and clarifications. Site evaluations are all scheduled for July, and we've started to work on travel arrangements for the evaluation teams.
Behind the scenes, the Steering Committee is meeting next week to finalize some documents about accreditation. I've said this in the past, but this committee is really great; very engaged and committed to developing a solid program and process for the museums of Nova Scotia. We've been editing documents via email discussions, and now it's time to sit down again in person. We'll be sure to announce via the Beacon when fresh information is available on our website.

CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse
Database work is always ongoing, and this month was no exception. We now collectively have 286,226 entries with 136,800 associated images. This means that another 332 records and 613 images got added this month. Great! And it's still the off-season! Speaking of which, we need to have a serious talk for a minute. When your summer staff come on board, it's really, really critical for you to train them in documentation standards and database use. We have spent a lot of time and money in helping to clean up data and give you recommendations for improvements. You have spent a lot of time and resources on getting your database to its current level. You don't want dirty data going into your system, and you definitely don't want to be broadcasting bad info online. It will create massive headaches that make you look unprofessional and require a lot more effort to clean up. It's important to remember that not everyone enjoys or is adept at collections documentation work. If you have a student or volunteer whose brain doesn't work that way, don't let them mess up your data. Trust me, it's not worth it.

Now let's look at those monthly regional statistics shall we?
Southwest - 124,592 artifacts, 56,657 images
Central - 99,289 artifacts, 39,850 images
Northeast - 32,922 artifacts, 26,401 images
Cape Breton - 29,423 artifacts, 13,792 images

Congrats to the Southwest region for adding the most records and images this month! We're looking forward to seeing lots of great, clean database work happening over the summer.

Fleming Project
We have wrapped up this partnership for another year, which means another 270 database records were improved. Kudos to the students for their hard work, and for all the amazing info they dug up! This was the 6th year for this partnership, and I can definitively say it was the best for research. Whether it was finding information on a British watchmaker, American photographer, or Nova Scotian military unit, these students uncovered some amazing new details and context for these artifacts.
Here's one of the adopted artifacts from this year for your image of the month:
What a dapper gent in his top hat! Ideally we'd have no shadows in this image, but otherwise it's a great angle to see the 3 dimensions, and additional photos show the side, back, and inside (including the milliner's label) views so a viewer can see the whole thing. With hats it is very important to photograph them on a head form. That's really the only way to demonstrate how the hat was worn, and how it would sit on the head. Otherwise your hat photos can end up looking lopsided or hide details (especially with women's hats that have ribbons or other bits that dangle).

Made in Nova Scotia
In geeky exciting news, I finally finished entering the silversmith info into the Made in NS database.
Phew! What a long haul. Sandi is still plugging through carvers. We are both feeling good about the progress being made, getting a few new or updated entries reconciled every day. I have now moved on to a little book by George MacLaren (former NSM curator) on furniture, and am happy to report that we'll be getting more copies of MacLaren's research notes to beef up the furniture section as well. Thanks to our friends at the Nova Scotia Museum for partnering with us on this.
Since we started this "picking away at it" approach, we've added over 300 new entries to the system, and have enhanced many existing entries.
If you are wondering what artisans or businesses we have in the database from your area, send me an email and I can give you a little report. Or if you've got some local history books or resources that discuss local industries or artisans, be in touch! We want to add to our stockpile, and can quickly tell you whether or not we've already worked through a book. As I mentioned last month, we are particularly interested in shipbuilding and marine-related resources right now (but we really will take anything).

#150Touchstones
Sandi has been busy with Touchstones, recruiting schools and teachers to partner with us and have their students identify their top picks for the virtual exhibit and interactive storytelling phases. As you can imagine, local connections are pretty powerful. So if you know a grade 11 history teacher in your area please be in touch with them about participating. We want every region of the province to be included in this project, and need museums to advocate for their collections in their communities to make this a reality.
We're extending the deadline a bit but it is still fast approaching...sort of like the end of the school year. More info here.


That's "all" for this month. Lots more on the go next month so stay tuned for more updates!