Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 2012 Update

Site Visits & Summer Textile Project
July was a very busy month for site visits. I've been to almost every corner of the province, seen some familiar faces and met some new people. We've talked about funding, CMAP review, the upcoming website launch, ANSM's conference, visitor statistics...so many conversations. I'm also very pleased to report that my goal of photographing another 5 objects per site has been going well. With only a few exceptions, this goal has been met and surpassed. It's good to give museum staff & volunteers a refresher course in photography, and to give a boost to the museums and our website. 
photographing a CWAC uniform
Army Museum

Hope's journey through the world of textiles has been full of amazing discoveries. It's had us climbing up ladders into storage lofts and pulling out 1960s stewardess uniforms, marvelling over the tiny waists of 19th century women, peeking into the world of fraternities with masonic vests of various ranks, and saying awwwww to a whole lot of cute kid's clothing. We've seen bonnets and shoes and top hats and bustles and corsets. Every time we said "ok, I think we've seen so much variety that we've covered everything", our next visit reveals something we hadn't thought about. We've photographed almost 300 objects (our goal was 250) and still have one more site to visit next week. Hope's photography guide will be available online in the near future and should give people some great tips.

Database & Website Info
So, apparently people are feeling competitive or productive or maybe just eager to prepare for the upcoming website launch. As I've been travelling around I've told everyone that I just want them to look good on the website. Some museums have adopted a strategic approach in focusing on images or updating old records, while other sites have just continued working according to the game plan. Whatever the approach, I think it's working. With a month and a half to go, everyone should be proud of what they've accomplished.
And now for our record-breaking month of new records & images. 3,852 new records and 6,116 images were added in July. I don't even know what to say to this, other than WOW! My goal was to get 60,000 images uploaded before the website launches, but it looks like we might actually hit 65,000 at this rate. Way to go everyone! This means we have a new grand total of 185,735 records and 59,700 images. 
By region:
Southwest: 97,015 artifacts, 25,887 images
Central: 34,755 artifacts, 12,201 images
Northeast: 30,072 artifacts, 15,456 images
Cape Breton: 23,893 artifacts, 6,156 images
Congrats to the Southwest region for adding the most records & images this month!
As we get closer to publishing these records to the world, remember that the goal is to tell a personal story with each object. The record should justify why the artifact is in your collection. So when new items are offered for donation, make sure your discussions with the donor capture associated memories and the life history of the object. If you aren't sure what to ask, think of the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. What is it? Who used it? When did they use it? When was it made? When did it come into your possession? Where is it from? Where was it used? Where did you get it? Why was it used? Why was it important? How was it used? How did you get it? How was it modified over the years? And also make sure you complete a pre-acquisition review form, a tool that will give you an unbiased answer as to whether the object should be accepted into the collection. This will give you the justification for saying no to the 20th sadiron or 10th sewing machine, and you can show the potential donor this form and clearly show them why you can't take the object. Suggest other museums they could approach and everyone should walk away happy.

Artist's signature
Sydney & Louisburg Railway Museum 
I thought I'd do something a little different for your image of the month. Instead of talking about the overall photograph, let's look at detail shots. If the item you're photographing has clothing labels, maker's marks on the bottom of ceramics, hallmarks on silver, signatures on paintings, etc etc etc., it is a good idea to get a close-up photo. To get a good quality image, set your camera to macro (the little flower setting), and use the tripod to keep the camera from shaking. These are important pieces of information, especially when it comes to research. So be sure to take your time and ensure the image is of good quality. If there are multiple labels or markings, take close-up shots of each. Assume this is the last time you'll be able to photograph the object. 

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