Thursday, June 9, 2011

Provincial Museum Association Meetings - Day 4

CCI is so cool!  Our final day in Ottawa was spent at the Canadian Conservation Institute, talking about preservation issues.  This is great.  Having studied Collections Conservation & Management, I obviously have a soft spot for these guys.  Not only are they our national experts, but they are highly respected on the international level as well.  And this is a very small field, so we are extremely fortunate to have such an organization.

Over the past few years many federal programs and services have been undergoing review, and CCI's was recently completed. In discussing preliminary results, it sounds like we're all on the same page about what issues are most prevalent in Canadian museums (regardless of size, operating structure, budget, etc.).  We have insufficient room and inadequate conditions to house collections, we have difficulty caring for collections in the long-term, difficulty  financing core functions that don't generate revenue (and insufficient revenue in general), and insufficient funds for the necessary professional development.  In comparing these issues to the services provided by CCI, it is very easy to recognize its importance.  Access to expert advice, reference materials on their website, workshops delivered through the provincial museum associations (we've got one coming up in the fall...stay tuned for more details), an extensive lending library, research & publications, the list goes on and on.  We heard today that since 2006, CCI has trained 1707 people in 113 workshops. 

We also talked a lot about relative humidity and temperature, and the ASHRAE guidelines that are now being used.  In a nutshell, you want to avoid extremes - fluctuations are bad and end up costing you a lot of money to try and control.  So if you will realistically never be able to achieve 50% RH, you should instead focus your efforts on minimizing the fluctuations that take place.  As this is an active area of discussion in the conservation field, it was recognized that more work needs to be done on implementation strategies - simple things that any museum can do to help improve their storage and display environments.  I think this is a topic to dig a bit deeper into, so I'll put it in my list of future posts. 

Thanks to Charlie Costain for the quote of the day, "don't let things go mouldy".  Mr. Costain is an expert, so I'd listen to his advice if I were you.

After 3 days of beautiful summer weather, this afternoon was a completely different picture.  At 445pm the skies opened, the wind picked up, and we had a crazy thunder and lightning storm.  Maybe Ottawa was just sad to see us all go back home, but throwing a tantrum that involved picking up and tossing patio umbrellas around seemed a little extreme.  Thanks to CHIN & CCI for pulling all of this together, and to the other PMAs for some great discussions and "networking".  And now it's time to catch up on sleep.
Thank you Ottawa and Good Night!

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