Friday, July 31, 2020

July 2020 Update

COVID-19
Congratulations to the museums which have opened and are working incredibly hard to give visitors a safe and enjoyable experience. And congratulations to those that decided to keep their doors closed and work on some behind the scenes projects. We know that the decision was not an easy one and are very proud of how every board and organization identified what was right for them. 

We have continued to update the COVID-19 related resources on our website. If you haven't yet, don't forget to apply for funding assistance to help offset this year's losses. Federal funding is first come, first served, and has been expanded to include museums with annual budgets as low as $2000. 
As another reminder, ANSM staff are still mostly working from home. If you call the office, please expect to leave a message and experience a delay in response time. Once we have a set schedule for office availability we will let you know. 

Museum Evaluation Program
We've now had 3 Deep Dive webinars, looking at the Governance, Community and Management sections, and our next one on the Facility section is scheduled for August 13th at 130pm. If you want to register, click here. If you missed any of the earlier sessions, let me know and I will send you the recording.

Since so many museums are now opening for the season and people have other things on the go during the summer, I haven't been receiving as many questions about evaluation. So the Q&A emails have slowed in frequency, but will continue to be circulated when I receive 5 questions or have other news to share. Almost half of the museums being evaluated have submitted information for Documentation Review. Kudos to all of them for getting ahead of the game. For anyone who is slated to be evaluated next year (originally planned for this year) and hasn't started uploading yet, feel free to do so. It's great to see things come in gradually and without the pressure of deadlines.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Last month I mentioned the importance of continuous collections work in relation to expanding resource offerings. Well, it was a very productive month in this regard. 1,565 new records and 6,218 new images were added to the databases. That's pretty impressive. Don't forget to make those records and images accessible to the public using the access fields on the Basic and Media Representations tabs. 
Here's how the numbers look at a regional level:
Southwest: 140,054 artifacts, 90,009 images
Central: 103,702 artifacts, 74,475 images
Northeast: 39,850 artifacts, 55,995 images
Cape Breton: 30,990 artifacts, 18,439 images

For your image lesson of the month, cue music! Because we're going to the chapel and we're gonna get married... Let's take a look at this wedding dress. But what we really need to talk about is the backdrop. Remember to use a contrasting backdrop for your photography. Since this is a white dress, it should be photographed against a dark, either navy blue or black, backdrop. This will really make the dress pop, and it will be much easier to see details. Another lesson we can take from this image is to try and remove as many wrinkles from the backdrop as possible. They are really distracting to the eye, and again can almost obscure details of the object. Check out the bottom of the skirt compared to the top to see what I mean. What's great about this image is that the dress is on a mannequin and the skirt has been adjusted so that we can easily imagine how this dress looked on the wedding day. 

Advisory Service Training
Now that we know how well everyone is doing with their database and digitization efforts, let's talk about this year's training initiatives. We've been hearing for years and years that museums want help with school programming. The buses cost too much, insurance is an issue, teachers will only partner if the museum provides curriculum-based learning, etc etc. We've heard many stories. So, this year we're responding, thanks to some federal funding. And it is the perfect time to be working on this because of new realities that teachers will be facing this Fall. 

As we've mentioned previously, we're giving Advisory Service sites two options this year - developing collections and curriculum-based resources, and digitizing artworks. Sandi delivered the first educational resource webinar yesterday, and the next one will be August 5th. We are committed to working one-on-one with you to develop your ideas using a template. Whether this is totally new or something you've been doing for years, I promise that these sessions will be helpful. Attendees are doing a mix of repurposing existing school programs and looking for new ideas, so the brainstorming power alone is pretty impressive. And did I mention we have cheat sheet curriculum documents with oodles of ideas in them to help you out? If you have questions or haven't signed up yet, contact Sandi at her new address: services[at]ansm.ns.ca.

And what about those artworks? Teachers are asking for more access to images of Made in NS art, so this is another way to help out our educators. The special digitization equipment has just arrived from Toronto, and I've been having fun testing it out before Sandi hits the road for those in-person sessions. Our first choice is to digitize watercolours, but feel free to bring along other artworks if you don't have any watercolours. Be in touch for advice on packing and transportation if the hub training is not at your museum. 

Educational Partnerships
Our partnerships with MSVU and U of T continued this month, and wow the output was phenomenal. Erika not only compiled our cheat sheets on curriculum tie-ins for grades Primary - 12, but she included oodles of ideas for activities, and developed our first 6 learning activities. She finished her placement with us on July 21st, but the impact of her work will be felt for years to come. Camilo finished his internship with us on July 24th, but has decided to continue on as a volunteer for the rest of the summer. Talk about dedication! We challenged Camilo to make NovaMuse more active and engaging for visitors, and he's really risen to this challenge. He developed colouring pages using images from collections, and created a tip sheet so you can do it too. He created online jigsaw puzzles using images from collections, and here's your tip sheet so you can do it too. Word puzzles are currently underway, so stay tuned for another tip sheet. It's funny, because when we issued this challenge to him we weren't thinking about it relating to the new teacher section of NovaMuse, but now that we're into the work, everything is so clearly connected! These fun resources can stand on their own or make great add-ons to the more formal learning activities. 

We've also added some data cleaning work to Camilo's August work plan, to look at blank date fields, duplicated entities, and also to check on access settings since so many records and images are set to not be accessible. He will be reaching out to museums with little reports on accessibility, so stay tuned. We also recognize that this is a massive undertaking, so won't pretend that he will get through all 55 museums before the end of the summer. We will continue with this data cleaning and access review as time and resources allow. 

Keeping Fresh
I was able to schedule in a number of webinars this month, and am enjoying some varied learning as I continue to work from home. This month I participated in Information Systems: Protecting the Past, Securing our Future (Heritage Trust), Generating Revenue through Digital Content & Virtual Experiences (Cuseum), Museums After the Pandemic (ICCROM and UNESCO), and Re-opening Heritage Sites and Historic Places: Heritage Leaders Share Challenges and Solutions (Heritage Trust). I hope you were able to find some opportunities this month to stay fresh too.