Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 2016 Update

Kellie & Marven learning about the Atlantic Canada
Aviation Museum's work from Barry and Gary
Museum Evaluation Program
Evaluations wrapped up the first week of August, and boy did it feel great to finish. It was a busy four weeks for everyone involved. I have now received all the forms and photos from the evaluators and am mid-way through report writing. As promised, the reports are very comprehensive, and provide feedback on any questions that the museum struggled with. We also encouraged evaluators to write notes and comments and ideas, and they delivered! We also realized by the second day that we should be taking photos of things we saw on-site so that these could be incorporated into the reports. So while not everyone will have photos in their reports, most sites will. This is a very roundabout way of warning that the evaluation reports are long. They are nothing to feel overwhelmed by, but should be seen as a tool for the board, staff and volunteers to move the museum forward. Our goal was to have the reports finished by September 6th, but this doesn't look feasible, so instead we'll be doing a gradual release. Reports are being done in the same order as evaluations took place, so those who were evaluated first will get their reports first.

Farewell to Heather
In sad news, we said goodbye to Heather our intern this month. She wrote a lovely little blog post to say goodbye and we made sure to send her away with cake. I know not everyone got to meet Heather, but she was an amazing help to us over the summer. She was given fair warning that it was going to be a very busy summer and she jumped in with both feet. She accomplished a lot and was instrumental in keeping us from feeling like we were drowning. So again, big thanks to Heather for joining us for the summer, and best wishes as she launches into her museum career!

On that note I'm going to hand things over to Sandi, Advisory Assistant, to talk about site visits and digitization work. Time for me to get back to report writing.

Site Visits
The end of summer is near and our annual museum site visits are coming to a close. I would like to take this opportunity to  thank staff and volunteers for having us during your busiest time of year. Let's review a few highlights from our visits!

This journey has taken me to over 40 sites; during my visits I provided insight on database work, digitization, and our special projects. With the support of partnering sites, we photographed approximately 400 artifacts, including 225 scans of manuscripts and photographs from the Victorian era. I am proud to say that together we collected a large sum of material that will make a great addition to the CollectiveAccess databases and NovaMuse. I have also noticed an influx of data entry since I visited many of our sites, I want to applaud you for your continuous efforts and passion for collections management. Here are your updated totals for Collective Access entries:
Southwest Region - 109,352 artifacts, 49,267 images
Central Region - 32,609 artifacts, 27,713 images
Northeast Region - 24,824 artifacts, 24,048 images
Cape Breton Region - 22,810 artifacts, 11,098 images

Great progress is being made!

Photo of the Lamp's
One of our most popular tools on the road was our handcrafted light box. As mentioned during the visits, creating a light box is a cost-efficient and easy way to create a seamless and clear backdrop for photographing your artifacts. It allows you to create beautiful photos that are telling of the objects and their story. Remember, Collective Access allows you to upload multiple images so be sure to capture those hidden details, such as: manufacturer marks, handwriting, signatures, embroidery, and other unique features. It is important to look at an object at all angles and share that information with the public who are sometimes viewing the object for the first time. 

This miner's lamp is a great example of how a light box diminishes shadowing by making use of proper lighting and a clear backdrop. I took a photo of the entire lamp, which will act as the primary photograph on Collective Access, and then I photographed the individual pieces, as well as marks and labels found on the object.

There were a few trending questions and/or concerns that I would like to address. Many sites have asked what to do if they have misplaced their scale. Unfortunately, much like each site, we have a very limited number of these at the office (one) so we suggest placing an order for a replacement. Please search for a Crime Scene Photomacrographic Scale, these are easy to find online and are cost effective. It may be a good idea to order a few or make a photocopy of the scale on cardstock once it arrives for a backup. A friendly reminder that your scale should always be at the bottom left hand corner of the object and it is to be removed when taking close up shots of details or dealing with 2-dimensional items. 

Photo taken at:
Cape Sable Historical Society
Also, a friendly reminder to please use proper tools and equipment when working on digitizing your collections. Please use gloves when handling artifacts. It is important that we protect the objects during the digitization process. Another common question during my visits was, do you photograph or scan things like books, letters, deeds, etc.? The first step in this decision is to evaluate the condition of the item. For example, if you have a book with a broken spine, it may be best to either use a handheld scanner or photograph it to avoid further damage. If you choose to photograph a book or textual document, please do so overhead and do not use a scale. If a photograph is in a frame, please leave it behind the glass and use fabric or card stock to block the reflection. If you have a tintype, try scanning and photographing it to see what option works best. Try different techniques, there is room for creativity and new ideas in this field but it is also important to always keep the item's condition in mind when making these decisions. It is our job as museum professionals, to maintain and protect these historic treasures. 

That is all for now, keep plugging away at digitizing your collections, we look forward to sharing your progress! Please continue to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on #ProjectVicky and to show your support for all of our partnering sites.

Sandi Stewart
Advisory Assistant

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