Thursday, April 15, 2010

PMA Follow-Up Report - Part 1

Ottawa & Gatineau, March 24-26, 2010

Provincial Museum Association staff were once again invited to meet with federal heritage agencies to discuss issues and compare notes on the national museum community.  The meetings began on March 24th at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) in Ottawa, where invitees met with CCI and Canadian Museum Association (CMA) staff.  The following two days were spent at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec with Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) staff.  As in previous years, the meetings were very well attended, with representatives from every province and territory except for the Northwest Territories. 

As with all federal departments CCI is about to undergo a government evaluation to determine its relevancy and cost-effectiveness, a process which has raised several questions:
What would museums do without CCI?
How do we rate the benefits of CCI, and the level of importance of its services?
How can CCI improve?

CCI has been moving its focus towards risk assessments, including integrated pest management, cold storage of vhs tapes and media migration, facility assessments and scientific services.  The famous framework poster is currently being revised, and a 10th agent of deterioration has been added – dissociation.  This includes things like missing labels, lack of succession planning, etc.  It will also incorporate ASHRAE guidelines, and sustainability will be considered for each agent of deterioration.  The new poster should be ready by the end of the year.

They have been piloting a risk assessment program that consists of staff conducting site visits to help museums determine preventive conservation priorities.  A comprehensive report provides rational justification for priorities in language for business managers and funders.  Key elements of the pilot project include a scale for measuring the magnitude of risks, as well as providing a forecast of the magnitude of risk if nothing changes.  This uses the ABC model created by Stefan Michalski – how often or soon will something happen, how much loss per object, and how much of the collection is affected.  Prior to the site visit, staff review museum documentation, environmental factors, etc., and when on-site discuss other issues with staff to determine what parts of the collection or property are most at risk.  The report identifies treatment options and estimates the ABC model scores if recommendations are implemented.  There is also an estimate provided on the cost of treatment and the general cost-effectiveness of implementation over a period of time.

If you are looking for information on preservation, check out CCI’s website.  You can also subscribe to their e-news, which promotes learning opportunities and new resources on their website.  CCI has also just published its new magazine – Reflections on Conservation.  This is a bilingual magazine that profiles the work of CCI staff, upcoming learning opportunities, and provides insights on how to better care for museum collections.  A limited number will be available at the upcoming ANSM conference, and you can subscribe for free at CCI’s website.

CCI will be coming to Halifax for a workshop on Emergency Planning, hosted by the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA).  The two-day workshop will be held at the Provincial Archives of NS in mid-June.  Stay tuned for more details and the finalized dates.

John McAvity and Monique Horth met with us to discuss CMA news.  Young Canada Works (YCW) is in decision-making mode, currently undergoing peer review.  Due to the number of proposals received every year and the lack of funding available, the CMA is only able to approve 8% of applications.  They hope to be able to take advantage of a $30 million increase in youth funding to provide more and longer internships for museums.

The annual CMA conference is taking place in St. John’s Newfoundland from May 11-14th, with the theme of Evolving Boundaries: linking people, place and meaning.  In 2011 the conference will be held in London, Ontario.  They are currently investigating the possibility of having some sessions available as webcasts.  Another conference taking place this year is the China Canada Conference, celebrating 40 years of trade relations.  This will be in Ottawa in October 13-14 and will have some focus on cultural activities.  Philanthropic groups have sponsored work exchanges between the countries, and the CMA is excited about promoting Canadian heritage in China.

Cultural Access passes are being given to new Canadians as part of their citizenship ceremony, and many of these ceremonies are moving from courthouses to museums.  The passes are available by application, and provide the new citizens with one year of free access to selected cultural institutions. 

International Museum Day is May 18th, in the middle of Museum month.  In addition to this, Culture Days will be taking place September 24-26th.  Inspired by Québec’s immensely successful Journées de la Culture, this is a volunteer movement to raise awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in their community’s arts and cultural activities.  The goal is to have a wide variety of free, interactive events across the country that everyone will be able to enjoy.  More information can be found online

Also, for those museums interested in sustainable development, an environmental sustainability toolkit has been created and is available for downloading from the CMA website.  

CHIN - Membership
Member services provided an overview of CHIN’s membership as of December 2009, and following is an overview of relevant Nova Scotian information:
·         1422 members in Canada
·         99 members in NS
o       5th highest in the country
·         50 contributing members in NS
o       3rd highest in the country
·         4 new members from NS in 2009
·         13 potential members in NS
o       these groups are in the middle of the membership application process
·         2 museums participating in Community Memories projects, neither having participated before

CHIN received 6% of all its inquiries from Nova Scotia, and two-thirds of all inquiries were related to Community Memories and Artefacts Canada.

If you have participated in Community Memories but did not opt to have your exhibit translated, CHIN will pay for this to be done.  As a national website, it is expected to be fully bilingual, so remember to pick the bilingual option when you first apply.

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