Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012 Update

Collections Managers in training
Collections Management Workshop 
Our second workshop of the year was at the Whitney Pier Historical Museum. We had a full house with a great group of people from across the province. I saw a few light bulb moments in participants over the two days, and the homework assignment and evaluation surveys suggest that things went all right. We covered the role of collections, ethics, legalities, policies & procedures, care & handling, intellectual property, teaching collections, deaccessioning, insurance, acquisition, appraisals, loans, accessioning, documentation, floor plans, storage, databases, inventory, photodocumentation and online access. Phew! It was a lot of info to absorb in just two days, so kudos to all who attended. What troopers!

Database Renewal & Website Info
This is the first summer that everyone will be working in the new database, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of progress can be made in such a user-friendly system. I have been setting up new accounts for summer staff, answering collections management questions, and setting up site visits. Record numbers are still fluctuating, but we're definitely adding a lot more than we're removing.
So how many object records & images do we have now? 575 records and 1,051 images were added in May, which puts us at 173,787 records and 49,699 images. Here's what this means regionally:
Southwest: 85,959 artifacts, 21,163 images
Central: 35,705 artifacts, 11,314 images
Northeast: 29,726 artifacts, 13,010 images
Cape Breton: 22,397 artifacts, 4,212 images

Congrats to the Central region for adding the most records, and Cape Breton for adding the most images this month!

Please remember to follow museum standards when entering your new information. The Nomenclature book gives you the object name & categories. There are many fields in the database for a reason. Do not put colour, quantity, descriptive information, names of people in the photograph, etc etc etc in the object name field.
Hint: if you have 3 or more words in your object name field you've done something wrong.
If you have questions about data entry, collections management, conservation, or anything else, please call me. Also, remember to review your summer students' work!

Christening Dress
Antigonish Heritage Museum
Your image of the month comes from the Antigonish Heritage Museum and is in honour of our textiles project. The scale might be positioned a bit strangely, and there are a couple wrinkles in the fabric, but look at how nicely the white christening dress jumps out at you. It is in its natural position on a form that lets us understand how it would have been worn. There is no confusion between the contrasting background fabric and any part of the dress. We can see edges and stitching detail (although you'd still want to get a couple close-up shots). The dress is turned slightly to the right so you can see some of the side, and the camera is angled to see some of the shoulder top details as well.
The important thing about this kind of photography is to proceed carefully and cautiously. Setting up mannequins, positioning objects, and figuring out lighting for your studio space takes time. But when the finished product makes you sit back and say "wow that's a great shot!", it is well worth the extra time and effort.

Summer Textiles Project
As you've all now read, Hope is here for the summer and we've put her to work. So far she's photographed objects, worked in databases, helped with a workshop, prepared data for migration, and done lots of planning & prep work for her big summer task - the textiles project. Since we have a limited amount of time and resources, she will be focusing her efforts on museums with large textile (clothing) collections, assisting with the photography of the clothing items and training museum staff/volunteers to continue the work. Her research project will be to come up with a how-to guide that museum staff/volunteers can use to further assist in digitization efforts.
To prepare for this project Hope conducted a database survey to find out who has the most textiles, and the top 10 sites have already been contacted. If time and resources allow, we will move beyond this limited list, but since it's a pilot project we want to tread carefully and not overload our poor intern.
Our goal is to add another 250 images of clothing items by the middle of August.

Site Visits
It's that time of year again, time to get on the road. Remember that you MUST have a permanent staff member or volunteer on-site for this visit. We have important things to discuss about the upcoming website and how your data will be presented. This is not a summer student task. I will also be taking five artifact photographs during the visit, just to boost our website images a bit more. This may not sound like much, but it will mean another 260 images for the website.
Since we have to coordinate visits for the summer textiles project, my summer schedule is not as flexible as usual. I have already begun scheduling visits, but if you have a particular day that you would like a visit (or blackout dates) then please feel free to put in a request. If you have questions about site visits please let me know. Otherwise, I will be in touch very soon.

Regional Meetings
Please note that the Central (HRM) regional group meeting has been moved to June 21st at 930am. Evergreen House (Dartmouth Heritage Museum) is still hosting.

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