Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 2020 Update

What a crazy month. If you had told me on the 1st that within two weeks we'd be closing down our office and working from home, and that schools and daycares and almost everything else would be closing down too, I would have told you to stop being so alarmist. But here we are. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with messages of solidarity and concern. Anita has been working from home on a wide variety of tasks, Sandi has just started back with us in her new role as Member Services Coordinator, and Jen is in the process of moving on to her new role as the Curator of the Kings County Museum. With a toddler at home, I am putting in as much time as I can to keep things moving along. My husband is working a rotating schedule and Allie is being a real trooper in our new temporary reality, but I won't lie and say it's easy.

Speaking of online, we are shifting what we can to online. We also recognize the need for human connection in a time of self-isolation. If you are feeling lonely, need to talk, and/or want to compare notes on how your museum is changing gears in this weird current reality, please join us for our Monday Community Connection chats.

We had to cancel our Museums 101 course that was scheduled for April, and are instead testing out another new approach. I've pulled excerpts from the course content and shifted them into 7 webinars, each 45 minutes in length. We are calling it Museum Fundamentals. Rather than a set registration fee, we are asking that you simply "pay what you can". These are taking place Wednesdays at 11am, and as with Museums 101, these are a great way to introduce board members, volunteers and staff to the museum field. Please pass on this opportunity to everyone at your museum. The next webinar is looking at definition and mission statements. If your mission statement includes the words "to collect, exhibit, interpret, research and exhibit", you'll definitely want to tune in. I'll be asking some tough questions, so come prepared to ponder!
Read more and register online.

Museum Evaluation Program
We've had a few questions about this year's evaluation schedule. Today our board is holding a special meeting to discuss options, and we will be in touch as soon as a decision has been made. We know that this is a stressful time for everyone, and each museum is dealing with it differently. Some are making amazing progress on their evaluation prep work and are actively uploading. Others are finding it difficult to shift in-person meetings to online or phone meetings.
With so many stakeholders involved, from funders to museum boards and staff, not to mention the public, we are looking at every angle, and trying to anticipate all the impacts. No matter what the board decides, we know that we will all have to work together on a solution.

CollectiveAccess Updates
An impressive amount of work has been done this month. 1,053 new records and 2,273 new images were added to the databases. Great job everyone! That brings the total to 309,336 artifacts and 223,855 images overall. In a time when people can't visit the museum in person, there is an increased interest in seeing collections online. Your hard work is paying off! People are learning, sharing and being inspired by what you've shared. Working through your backlog and enriching database records is a great way to engage with your community online. Let everyone know about your latest updates!

Here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 137,786 artifacts, 85,977 images
Central - 103,221 artifacts, 66,970 images
Northeast - 37,112 artifacts, 53,590 images
Cape Breton - 31,217 artifacts, 17,318 images

Another great way for you to engage with your community right now is by using the new NovaMuse Transcribe feature. I circulated an email announcement which included links to Sandi's YouTube tutorials. In case any museums missed it, here's the video that teaches how to set your records to be transcribable. For the public, here's the video that shows you how to transcribe museum records. Let's work together to issue a public transcription challenge. As above, broadcast your efforts!

SME Partnerships
The timing might seem odd, but we've just partnered with a new SME to learn more about spinning wheels in museum collections. We often joke about how many wheels are in collections and that we don't want or need anymore. Well, David might disagree with that latter statement. He is already seeing some exciting and rare wheels, and wants to see more. Put simply, he can't tell you more about your spinning wheels if you haven't photographed them yet. So, if you are at home working on plans for the summer/fall, be sure to add digitization of spinning wheels to your list. For those of you that already have some spinning wheel photos in your database, we will be in touch.

Remember when Sandi visited museums with our SMEs and filmed some of the sessions? These recordings are now featured on NovaMuse. Check out the four galleries to explore the records examined by Terry, Joleen, and Gary. Terry examined agricultural tools, Joleen examined baskets, and Gary examined military insignia.

We also did a few virtual sessions with Eric who examined ships portraits. As you flip through the records in these galleries, click the blue "view record" button to see the recordings. The recordings will display as a thumbnail with the associated images of the artifact (as seen above). Please note that not all records have recordings in the galleries. Click here to listen to Eric's description of reef points! Are you more of a basket enthusiast? Joleen compared two baskets, one made of poplar and the other made of ash. Ox yokes more your cup of tea? Check out this description by Terry. Interested in learning more about items used in the First and Second World War? Why not start with Gary's discussion on battle dress? These are only a few of the recordings featured in these galleries. The best part is you can explore these records from home and learn from experts in the field. Looking for homeschooling materials? This is a great place to start!