Thursday, April 15, 2010

PMA Follow-Up Report - Part 2

Museum Knowledge Workers for the 21st Century
The University of Toronto recently completed a project to evaluate the role of technology in the changing museum environment, thereby determining the technological skill set required by emerging museum professionals.  Reviewing curricula of the various museum studies programs available in North America as well as post-graduate professional development opportunities enabled U of T to identify gaps between what is being taught and what is actually needed.  There were three goals for the project: assess the impact of technology on museums, provide information on curriculum development in museum studies program to better serve changing needs of museums, and enable museums to better plan for professional development. 
The full 59-page report is available online here.  

New Technologies Roundtable
Four groups presented on the use of new technologies in their work, which included a presentation by Karin on the use of Crossloop for remote assistance. 

Last year you heard that PEI was working on creating downloadable tours, using audio & video files to enhance visitor experiences.  These are now available for purchase as souvenir cds.  They have also created a collection management cd which contains slide shows, videos, quizzes, samples, test sheets and supporting documents.  A way of combating the succession planning conundrum, the cds are meant to provide their members with all the information they need to handle collections management issues.  Whether it’s a new volunteer, student, or seasoned veteran, everyone should be able to refer to the cd to find the information they are looking for.

The Ontario Museum Association reported that they have created a community of practice portal on their website.  This allows their members to login and review information prior to site visits, adding items to meeting agendas, and also ask and/or answer questions.  They have moved their website to a content management system, allowing members to control their own profile information.

Saskatchewan has been working on a pilot project creating GPS tours of provincial heritage.  Similar to the PEI project, they hired actors and sought out a lot of supporting information, but the focus is on the southern part of the province.  They project has 10 museum sites involved, and 15 in-kind and supporting partners, some of which the association has never worked with before.  In order to participate, museums had to get a letter of support from their communities, as well as sign a letter of commitment.  The tours will be available through mp3 players and cell phones, provided they can handle gps coordinates.

Standards Update
As some of you may be aware, a nomenclature working group has been reviewing the Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing, working on clarifications and additions to the rules for cataloguing and classifying cultural objects.  For the most part, clarifications have been made to fields such as discipline, classification, title, school/style, and the measurement fields.  The only change that will really affect the Passage database is an adjustment to the date formats, but until we are able to make the necessary adjustments, our current formatting will be acceptable as an alternative.

The group has not only completed their work, but a Nomenclature 3.0 has just been published.  The new book can be ordered from the Altamira Press and is on sale during April.  A Standards Reference database is currently being created for the CHIN website.

Projects 2010/11
As we were all aware, CHIN is moving away from the collections enrichment projects.  This year’s projects will be focused on creating an online toolkit that will be available on the professional exchange.  The toolkits will include step-by-step instructions on how to use various technologies, such as a webinar on the creation and clean-up of collection records.  This is a departure from the enrichment projects, but will hopefully be something that museums from across the country can take advantage of.

Digital Heritage Symposium (Vancouver, Feb 2010)
CHIN hosted its first online symposium in February (review is available on my blog under February 2010), and it was a resounding success.  Partnering with the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia, the symposium had presenters from across Canada and around the world.  There were 90 attendees at MOA and over 80 online participants.  The webcast will be available online in May.
The webcast system was custom-built, and provided a solid connection for the two days with very technical questions or problems.  Online participants were able to submit questions and since it was online people from across the country were able to ‘attend’ without worrying about travel costs. 

Canada’s Got Treasures
In May (Museum month) a new website is going to be launched as part of the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) Experimental lab.  CHIN will be measuring results to see if the project translates into an increase in museum visitors.  It will be a web-based challenge and quiz aimed at young adults.  Using audio, video, images and research, national “treasures” will be profiled and users/visitors will be encouraged to share their own treasures in the same way using YouTube and Flickr.  From May to October new treasures will be broadcast weekly, and a map will provide geographic context for everything that is profiled.
The goals of the project are to increase the level of interest in museums among young adults, encourage engagement by the public and museums to respond to profiled ‘treasures’, encourage young adults to consider careers in museums, and to attract visitors to the VMC and local museums.

More information will be coming out about the project in mid-April, and promotional rack cards will be made available for distribution across the country.

Social Media in Canadian Museums
CHIN sampled 270 cultural institution managers from around the world to determine how museums are using social media.  They have determined that the following six networks are the most popular for cultural organizations: Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, My Space and LinkedIN.  In Canada, My Space and LinkedIN are less popular with museums, and social networking is used predominantly for event promotion.  Interestingly, Canada has the most online video watchers in the world. 
CHIN’s top five tips for museums considering engaging in social networking activities are to learn from what other museums are doing, determine what you are trying to achieve, participate in activities such as museumfactmonday on twitter, keep social media alive by engaging with your public, and think about your institutional voice.

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