Friday, August 29, 2014

August 2014 Update

ANSM Conference
In just 3 weeks we'll be in Sydney for our annual conference. The theme is challenging our perspectives, and that means we'll be asking some tough questions and encouraging 'out of the box' thinking. Of course I always encourage museum workers to attend the annual conference, but this year feels more relevant than others. During my summer travels, questions have been raised and comments have been made about the future of museums. Several people have told me that feel like they're in a bit of a rut and need to get some new ideas or go through some sort of shift to get things moving again. As I said on-site, those are exactly the issues that we are covering at the conference. You need to be there. Period. For those people in Cape Breton, remember that this is your turn to host, ie we are only in your neck of the woods once every four years, so it would be a terrible thing for you to miss this opportunity. Check out the program & register online.
IMAC will be having a casual dinner meeting on the Thursday (Sept.18th) and is inviting Advisory Service members to join. We figure that since we'll all need to find supper in Sydney, we may as well meet up and eat together. If you're interested in this please let me know so we can make a reservation.

Membership Renewal
IMAC would also like to remind you that it is membership renewal time. For some reason people always mix up this process, so here's your gentle reminder about what needs to be mailed to our office:
1. Complete and send in your contract. Make sure that it is signed by two different people: the President of the Board of Directors and the primary Advisory Service contact person. We won't accept the contract unless two different people sign it.
2. A cheque for $350. $50 covers your regular ANSM membership and $300 covers the Advisory Service. In the renewal notice you will see that we itemized these amounts and so all you need to do is add up the total and write the cheque for $350.

Site Visits
hello sailor!
This has been a busy month; 3.5 office days, 19 site visits, and I don't want to even think about how many kilometres I've driven. I've criss-crossed this province in such a way that it feels like I've visited every nook and cranny. I mentioned last month that everyone was reporting a spike in visitation, and I'm sorry to say that hasn't continued across the board this month. Most museums still said they were up or at the very least on par with previous years, but a few said they were down from last year. So I guess the usual ebb & flow is taking place. I still have 4 site visits left, and then it's back to the office for the winter. As per usual I have a massive list of homework from site visits. Some of it is fun stuff, like sorting through all the copies of local industry info to reconcile with our Made in NS database, but other homework items will require a bit more work. Please be patient with me as I work through my 30 page to do's going to take a bit of time but I think the results will be worth it. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing how the customized collections game plans work out. We're already seeing progress, but I think that next summer will be the real test.
Thanks to everyone for your wonderful hospitality and good conversation. It's been tiring, but fun.

Museum Thefts
That's right, our favourite crazy story is back. The RCMP still have a whole lot of antiques and artifacts that they are trying to return to museums. It doesn't matter if you think Tillman never visited your museum or wouldn't have been interested in anything in your collection. This guy got around and took whatever he could get his hands on. It's worth a shot to let the RCMP know what artifacts are missing. There's no shame in it, and off the top of my head I can think of 5 community museums that will be having items returned. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get things back. It would be irresponsible not to take advantage of it.
If you don't have contact info for the lead investigator let me know and I will connect you.

Collections Database Info
I still haven't gotten back to database review work, but am looking forward to the zen nature of the task. It will be a nice way to calm down after running in circles all summer. Meanwhile, oodles of new records and images were added this month. Yes that is the technical term. Oodles. A whopping 17,712 new records were added this month along with a lovely 1,221 new images. The reason so many records were added is that we successfully migrated a very old database into CollectiveAccess. It was a rough go and there's still a bit of clean-up work to be done, but we've got it migrated. Phew!!
With this new addition we've blown our old numbers out of the water. 216,117 artifacts and 87,941 images are in the system. I like those numbers.
Southwest - 118,659 artifacts, 38,577 images
Central - 40,767 artifacts, 19,726 images
Northwest - 30,156 artifacts, 19,950 images
Cape Breton - 26,535 artifacts, 9,688 images

Congrats to Whirl-i-gig for adding the most records this month!! We've heard that a certain Curator will be toasting you this afternoon.
Stuffed Animal
Macdonald House Museum

Your image of the month is a personal one for me. When I was visiting the MacDonald House Museum in Cape Breton I was wandering through rooms looking for baskets when this little guy caught my eye. Why? Because my Mom has a doll made from the exact same fabric. It was her favourite doll as a child, and we have a number of photos of her hugging it tightly or pushing it in a carriage. Clearly this little doggy needed to be photographed as well. So let's talk toys. You'll notice that he has his contrasting background fabric, and the scale fits into the frame of the image, leaving doggy in the centre of the shot. I also angled him a bit so you can understand his 3-dimensional nature. What you can't see in this image is that I also took a couple additional photos in order to capture other angles and stitching detail.

That's all for now. See you in Sydney!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tribute to Kim Truchan

From Kim's obituary
I can't believe I'm saying this again so soon, but we've suffered a loss in the Nova Scotia heritage community. Kim Truchan, formerly of the Shelburne County Museum, passed away on August 5th after a 3 year battle with cancer.

As her colleagues have shared over the heritage listservs, Kim was greatly respected and well-liked. Coming to us from the arts world, she offered fresh perspectives and a creative edge, and it was inspiring. Her youthful spirit and energy, her quick smile and positivity, her intelligence and many wonderful traits. People enjoyed being around her and knew that when she spoke up at a meeting it was because she had something very valuable to share. She wasn't just the ideas person though, but could turn ideas into action, and understood how to navigate the business side of things as well. Advocacy, funding applications, project management...she was ready to tackle it all.

As I've been thinking back to our on-site visits, I've realized that we hit it off so well that none of them seem like they could have included our introduction. As soon as we sat down, I saw that she was brimming with optimism and ideas. She wasn't afraid to "tell it like it is", preferring to face a problem than ignore it. But she knew when it was time to ask for help, and had no qualms about phoning to have a quiet talk about some issue or other. She just wanted to move Shelburne forward, and by extension, the museums of Nova Scotia. I distinctly remember returning to the office and reporting "she gets it!", which is the term we use when someone really impresses us. We all immediately knew that Kim was a wonderful asset for the museum world; we were thrilled at the prospect and it didn't take us long to recruit her.

Kim served on our Information Management & Access Committee when we were moving to a new database system and was of great assistance as we were developing NovaMuse. She LOVED that name. It had her vote from day one. The notion of museums inspiring creativity and collections serving as a new muse to artists got her pretty excited and fit perfectly with her artistic background. As soon as we started brainstorming about potential directions was when her creative juices started flowing. She always saw the big picture but never lost sight of how that translated for individual museums. Quick on the draw and eager to help museums improve themselves, Kim always had valuable input. Whether it was a discussion on advisory service membership, technical database issues or the aesthetics of website design, she could handle it all. She took the job very seriously and while most people won't notice, as I peruse NovaMuse I can see her fingerprints. Our logo with the capital M immediately comes to mind.

We worked with Shelburne on a number of special pilot projects while Kim was there. She loved being the guinea pig and playing with new technologies, whether it was installing qr codes or seeing if our database could really be used in a class assignment by a college in Ontario. She was up for anything, even when I'd caution her that we had no idea if or how something would work or that we'd be making it up as we went along. She would remind me that we learn by doing, nothing ventured nothing gained, and that it was time for museums to be innovators and break free of old and staid stereotypes. Then she'd start brainstorming other potential projects and we'd get even more excited about the possibilities.

When Kim called to say she needed to step down from IMAC to undergo treatment, she made it clear that this was a temporary thing. She was determined to beat it. She'd be taking a leave of absence, that's all. She'd still be keeping an eye on us, watching to see what we were up to, and checking in to say hi and get the latest news.

Well Kim, I hope that your leave is relaxing and peaceful and full of creative inspiration. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights and ideas with us. You were a bright star that we lost far too soon. You will be sorely missed.