Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 2017 Update

CNSA Education Committee
I mentioned last month that I sit on the CNSA Education Committee, and we had another meeting this month. Lots of planning activities for CNSA's conference: Facilitating Accessibility; Celebrating Diversity.

Margaret with her social media prize
We had a very full IMAC meeting this month. A lot of our committee have been serving for well over two years, and so we all decided it would be good to bring in some fresh faces and give our longstanding members an opportunity to step down and take a break. Our three new members are Pam Atwell (West Hants Historical Museum), Joanne Boudreau (Fultz House), and Margaret Mulrooney (Colchester Historeum). We are really excited to have them join us. Since the Colchester Historeum recently won our #150Touchstones contest for social media participation, this gave us the perfect chance to give her the Small Museum Toolkit book series - aka the social media prize.
The committee had lots to talk about, from our Fleming College partnership, to a recent trip to Ottawa, but one of the key items on the agenda was about moving forward. Before we launched NovaMuse the committee did a review of collections websites to inform design & functionality decisions. As amazing as it is to think about, NovaMuse is going to be 5 years old this September. So we figure it's time to go through that process again to determine how we can best move forward. We have a couple ideas up our sleeves already, but I'm sure a comprehensive review will result in all sorts of fun stuff to consider.

Provincial & Territorial Museum Association (PTMA) Meetings
My long-time readers will remember that I used to go to Ottawa every year to meet with the

Heritage workers from across the country :)
Canadian Conservation Institute, Canadian Heritage Information Network, Department of Canadian Heritage reps, and ANSM's counterparts from across the country. It was a very full two days of meetings/discussions, and we also took advantage of evenings to talk even more. We were tired by the end of it, but everyone agreed that it was a very worthwhile exercise.
We heard about CCI's strategic plan, and also that they are seeing fewer applications for conservation treatments than in previous years. That makes me want to flood them with applications from Nova Scotia. So put on your thinking cap folks. If you have something in your collection that needs some conservation help, let me know and we can talk about the application process and whether or not your situation is a good fit for this service. We heard from CHIN that Nomenclature 4.0 is going to be released in digital format in the not-too-distant future. You can be sure we'll be sharing that link once it is released. We also heard about the renewal of Artefacts Canada. Plans are still in the works but let's just say we are positioned quite well here in Nova Scotia.
Other discussions were around the Museum Assistance Program. There was an acknowledgement that the program is ripe for review & updating, especially to better accommodate current technological realities. Last but not least, we heard about the 2016 Survey of Heritage Institutions, and that there will also be a 2017 survey. Apparently not a lot of really small museums participated, so we will be asking everyone to take part in this year's survey. Government is using the results to inform decision-making, and museums can use the statistics in funding applications and advocacy work...very important stuff. So let's make sure that the results reflect realities of all museums.

Museum Evaluation Program
The big milestone for the program this month was the deadline for evaluator applications. We didn't get in as many as last year, partially because we promised not to have any former NSM staff or trustees on evaluation teams this year. We want to avoid any potential or perceived conflicts of interest. So the next step is for the committee to meet and review the applications, and form up the evaluation teams. On the museum side of things, the 28 museums on the docket for this summer are busy preparing. Q&A emails are regularly circulated so that everyone is getting the same information and support. We learned a lot from last year's evaluations and so are applying those lessons to this year's process in order to make things easier for everyone. So far, so good.

CollectiveAccess & NovaMuse
February was a rather quiet month for database work. Our big migration was all done and a lot of museums were working on other tasks or taking a mid-winter break (we don't blame you, we aren't fans of February either). 202 new artifact records and 750 new images went into the databases, giving us grand totals of 285,965 artifacts and 135,967 images. These are big numbers. But if you look at NovaMuse you will 'only' see about 214,097 records and 113,827 images. So don't forget to make those records accessible to the public. The public expects to be able to see your collection online, and you have a great marketing and programming opportunity to showcase your ongoing, behind-the-scenes collections work.

Now without further ado, here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 124,644 artifacts, 56,451 images
Central - 99,006 artifacts, 39,497 images
Northeast - 32,921 artifacts, 26,246 images
Cape Breton - 29,394 artifacts, 13,773 images

It's been a few months since we've had an "image of the month", so let's visit one that will cover a couple of bases. You might remember that right now I'm picking my way through a book on Atlantic Canadian Silversmiths for our Made in Nova Scotia database. So let's take a look at some Nova Scotia silver. This medal was made by Richard Upham Marsters (1787-1845) and was first prize in an Annapolis Valley ploughing match. Nifty eh? We want to highlight our locally made artifacts, and that means getting great photographs of them.
If you're like me, when you look at this image your eye feels pulled to the lower left corner. You shouldn't feel that way when looking at an artifact photo. You want the object to be centre-frame of the shot. The scale is also opposite of what it should be. Make sure you are consistent in your scale placement - lower left, and incorporated into the framing rather than treated as part of the artifact. The final point I want to make about this image relates to Marsters' hallmark. You'll notice a little blob above the medallion part of the medal, just below where the ribbon attaches. Believe it or not, this actually says R.U. Marsters, and underneath it there is a lion passant. This is gold...or perhaps I should say silver. This is Marsters' hallmark. He stamped his work so it could easily be identified. Whenever you see these kinds of marks that identify the maker, whether it be on silver or ceramics or clothing, be sure to take a close-up photograph.

I'm going to wrap things up here for this month. Here's hoping March turns out to be a great month for museums in Nova Scotia.

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