Friday, January 29, 2016

January 2016 Update

Evaluation Preparation
Questions are now pouring in about this summer's evaluations. Almost all of the museums I've spoken with have divided up the sections and assigned tasks to individuals or committees. I've been reviewing HR policies and talking about mission statements and helping museums clean up storage locations in their's been quite a mixed bag. This has made for some interesting, and very email/phone-heavy days at the office, but it's really encouraging to hear about how museum workers are rolling up their sleeves and working through the evaluation questions.

In November's blog post I shared a number of resources that will be useful in preparation work. I have also been getting back into book reviews, which are really book snapshots - quick tips & info that I can share from our reference library. If something really piques your interest, you can borrow the book. My most recent reviews are of the CMA Ethics Guidelines, and a 6-part series on the Small Museums Toolkit from AASLH. If you want to check through my other book reviews, just click on the book reviews button on the right side of the blog.
I should also say that these resources should be helpful for museums in general, whether you are on the list to be evaluated this summer or not.

As I said before the holiday break, I strongly encourage you to be in touch. My response time is starting to slip a bit as the volume of questions increases, so please don't wait until Spring to reach out.

Collections Database Info
I'm very pleased to say that our new server is working nicely (and quickly) and gives us lots of room to grow. As I've said over the past few months, there is a lot of database activity going on, but it is increasingly of the "cleaning up" variety rather than the addition of new records. This month, museums added 333 (yes really) records to the databases, and 750 new images. Collectively, we have documented 221,794 artifacts and attached 106,083 associated images. As I said in November, every little bit of this work is progress. For museums being evaluated, it increases your chance of a good result on the collections section, and for all museums, it's about being good stewards of the collections that the public has entrusted to us.

Here's the regional tally:
Southwest - 120,327 artifacts, 48,932 images
Central - 42,659 artifacts, 24,934 images
Northeast - 30,968 artifacts, 21,609 images
Cape Breton - 27,840 artifacts, 10,608 images

Congrats to the Central Region for adding the most records and images this month!

Special Projects
I'm going to skip the image lesson of the month and instead share some other tidbits. Just like museums have infinite irons in their collections, we have a number of irons in fires. So here are a few projects that we have on the go.

Fleming Project
We launched our annual Fleming class project this week, where the students adopt a Nova Scotia
"adopted" museums for this year's project
museum and do some proofreading and research work on selected collection records. This year we have 27 students working on 270 records for 10 museums. As ever, it will be very interesting to see what the students dig up as they work through their adopted artifacts. As crazy as it is to believe, this is the 5th year for this class assignment. In the past the students have discovered some amazing information about artists, local companies, and provided a wealth of contextual information about artifacts. If you're curious to see what artifacts are in this year's list, check out our NovaMuse Facebook page where we'll be profiling these items over the coming weeks/months. Here's a map of who is participating this year. In case you're wondering why you only see 9 pins instead of 10, The Army Museum has camouflaged itself underneath the HMCS Sackville.

Made in Nova Scotia Project
one of MacLaren's furniture books
Finally, I'd like to give you an update on this phoenix of a resource. We've referred to this as our crazy, never ending, rainy day project. It definitely is. What I'm really excited to share though, is that the Nova Scotia Museum is actively working on it right now. About two years ago, the new Curator of History stumbled upon former curator George MacLaren's research notes for his books on Nova Scotian furniture makers. And now there is a volunteer working with the curator to reconcile these notes with our Made in Nova Scotia database. Some people just started yawning, but other people just said COOL!  We're really excited about this partnership, about sharing MacLaren's unpublished research notes, and mostly we're excited about increasing the quality and depth of information in the Made in NS database. To date, the NS Museum volunteer has finished working through furniture makers of Hants County, and is plugging away at those of Inverness County, adding a lot of new entries to the database. If you want to check out what's already in the database, you can go to - Browse - Made in Nova Scotia.

SME Work
This is something that we are still trying to finesse, but really launched a couple years ago. Every once in a while a subject matter expert (sme) will leave comments on a NovaMuse record to let the museum know more about the item - how it was used, how it was made, special terminology, if something has been misidentified...basically correcting and improving the database record. So we thought it would be great to reach out to particular groups to encourage this kind of information sharing. We've dabbled with baskets and industrial collections, and right now we're working on military items. As we speak, a detailed list of 164 military badges are with a "sme" so that he can tell us more about these items from various museums' collections. We think that we've finally found the most efficient way to facilitate this sort of work, and hope to tackle more of it in the future.

That's all for this month. Enjoy the snowstorm and we'll talk soon.

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