Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 2016 Update

Museums & Security Symposium (and our AGM)
We had a great time in Tatamagouche for our first ever Museums & Security Symposium. It was a jam-packed day, and in case you missed all the tweeting and Facebook posts, you can read Heather's blog recap here.

If you're wondering who Heather is, you can read her intro here.

Museum Evaluation Program
May kicked off with a bang since the 6th was the deadline to submit documents & information for the pre-evaluation review. It was kind of exciting to see all the uploads taking place, even with the mad dash to the finish/deadline. Sincere kudos to everyone who put in so much work to prep the documents and answer the questions, and kudos as preparations shift to focus on the site evaluations in July.
So what's happening now and next? Right now all those documentation packages that were submitted are being reviewed. As you can imagine, this is a lot of reading. These questions are being graded and we will then pull out various highlights as briefing notes for the evaluation teams. We have also started working on the travel arrangements for the teams. We're going to have a lot of people running around the province in July, and they'll need places to stay, cars to drive, and meals to eat.
If you are a CMAP museum and haven't confirmed your site evaluation visit date yet, please do so asap.
The other exciting thing to report in this program is that we are officially evaluating the Nova Scotia Museum sites in 2017. We were at the all sites meeting last Friday and got to share a quick overview of the program and process with the directors of these sites, and will be conducting orientation sessions this fall (just like we did with the CMAP museums last fall). It's exciting to see the evaluation program grow and develop and be embraced by the museum community as a whole.

Site Visits
The annual site visit ritual kicked off this morning with a meeting at Scott Manor House in Bedford. I will be playing a much smaller role in visits this year because of the Evaluation Program. It will be very weird not to make all of my usual visits, but we will be bringing someone in to take on this task, and you'll be in good hands. We're still building the site visit agenda, but one of the things in our list is #ProjectVicky. Similar to our focus on First World War era artifacts last year, we'll be focusing on the digitization of Victorian era artifacts this summer, but with the twist of broadcasting our progress via social media (hence the hashtag). Feel free to play along. Heather has been compiling lists of relevant items for each museum and figures that on average there are about 50-75 items at each site that still need to have their photo taken. This gives us lots of stuff to work with, and will tie in nicely with Canada 150. We'll share more details as they develop, but all that work we've been doing on dating artifacts and adding details to records is definitely paying off. Exciting times ahead :)

SME Projects
Joleen & Heather reviewing
baskets on NovaMuse
Remember a couple years ago when I was pushing digitization of baskets because we were going to partner with some experts and get them to teach us more about the baskets in our collections? Well, it's happening. Our SME (subject matter expert) is none other than Joleen Gordon, THE basketry expert of Nova Scotia and a research associate of the Nova Scotia Museum. Heather did a scan of the databases for baskets with images and came up with over 270! The beauty of NovaMuse is that we could turn these results into a tidy document for Joleen, allowing her to review them and make a few notes. She spent the morning at our office on Friday and was able to read all sorts of details about materials, culture, and other descriptive info from the images and limited info in the existing records. Joleen is eager to continue with the work and will be meeting again with Heather to review more, and Heather is developing little reports for the museums whose basket records can be enriched. No changes will be made to the records until the museums approve these reports.
We have two other SME projects on the go right now, both with a military slant to them. Thanks to our friends at The Army Museum and the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum who are each reviewing some items from their areas of expertise. We don't have timelines linked to these projects but are looking forward to learning more about these items in our collections. As you can imagine, the possibilities for SME work are practically endless, but very dependent on good quality images in the database. It's pretty satisfying to be a point where we can start to dip our toe into this work.

Made in Nova Scotia 
This rainy day project has gone from back to front burner more times than I care to remember, but I'm pleased to say that Heather is picking away at this among her various internship tasks. She's picking up where our recent NSM volunteer left off, reconciling former curator George MacLaren's research notes on furniture making in the province with the Made in NS database. Pictou county is in the works right now, and while sometimes we have little more than a name and location, we're building a solid foundation and actively pursuing opportunities to enhance this resource.

Collections Database Info
We updated the database to the latest version and as expected, a few bugs appeared. We have most of them out of the system and will making a number of other tweaks in the near future. Database work continues to be steady, with lots of inventories happening in preparation of the July site evaluations. As I mentioned above, it seems that we have reached a threshold with this work, and are doing more enrichment work now than data entry backlog work. Fantastic! But since we always like to talk about what's new (a little ironic working in heritage don't you think?), 309 new records and 749 images were added to the systems this month, giving us new grand totals of 223,252 records and 109,798 images. Looks like we'll be cracking the 225k and 110k marks really soon.

Here's the regional breakdown:
Southwest - 120,799 artifacts, 50,218 images
Central - 42,970 artifacts, 26,830 images
Northeast - 31,073 artifacts, 21,833 images
Cape Breton - 28,410 artifacts, 10,917 images

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

Our image of month for May, is fittingly, a bread basket! Also known as a "brot korb", this basket was used for raising bread dough (hence the residue). This is one of the baskets whose record Joleen could add more info. This is a great image because there aren't harsh shadows, the backdrop is free of wrinkles, the scale is nice and straight in the bottom left corner, and you can see a lot of details in the basket itself. One of the things Joleen pointed out about baskets is that it's important to be able to see the inside and how the basket was started. You can tell a lot about a basket by seeing how it all began so be sure to keep that in mind the next time you're photographing baskets. Clear, focused detail shots and different angles of the basket are important as well because it's easier to tell what the basket is made of or how it was woven.

That's all for this month. Have a fantastic week!

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