Monday, November 11, 2019

Museums and Remembrance Day - 2019 Edition

Allie & Shari.
Allie fell asleep mid-play
Last week I attended the funeral of a dear friend. When lives are cut short, especially when the person is on the younger end of the spectrum, conversations inevitably include musings on the person's hopes and dreams, what they accomplished in their short life, and how much more they could have done if they had been given the opportunity.

Tributes and reminiscences at my friend's funeral revealed common threads; a strong faith, a love of reading, a passion for music, a desire for community (especially if it involved food), an eye and voice for social justice, a knack for jokes and being silly, a talent for seeing the uniqueness in children and nurturing their individuality, and the ability to fall asleep on anyone's couch at any time.

My friend started not one, but two literacy programs, learned to play many instruments and even resorted to building her own 15th century instrument that none of us had ever heard of when she felt she needed a bigger challenge. She was energized by learning, volunteered widely, and loved to help people. She traveled and was part of musicals and festivals and lived her life unapologetically and to the fullest.

I left this funeral feeling a mixture of inspiration and regret. Listening to the tributes and accomplishments of my friend was impressive to say the least. Her legacy is far flung, it is varied, and she will be remembered and missed for a very long time. People who never met her are benefiting from what she did. I wish we had visited more often, especially after she fell ill. I wish my daughter could have had more time with our friend, as she is too young to hold on to the memories of their time together. I was really looking forward to their days of music lessons. I miss her and I miss what could have been.

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium
I wish we had more time. How often do we express that sentiment? As I mused over this time of year and everything that comes with Remembrance Day, I was suddenly hit by the grand scope and scale of this loss, of times of war and conflict when funerals and memorial services and mourning were so widespread and such a common occurrence. What would a world be like where my singular grief was magnified hundreds and thousands of times. What would a world be like when so many people would be mourning for so many other people at the same time.

As I pondered all of this, the word legacy came to mind again and again. We often hear of the collective legacy of our veterans; of the rights and freedoms we are guaranteed because of their service. More and more we are hearing personal stories, as we collectively realize that time is running short for some of them to be shared in veterans' own words. As museums, if our mission is to honour and celebrate our community's past, then we must be doing this in a personal way, at the individual level. Unfortunately, even though we are engaging in oral history and other projects to capture these personal stories, they don't always get linked to databases or websites or other standard resources. They are separate, and can be lost or left behind on shelves or in files.

In an age when distractions are rampant and information is often twisted or made up, pursuing the truth and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human experiences is a noble task for museums. We can and should be bearing witness to personal stories and lives lived, but this information has to be integrated into our sharing tools (databases and websites) in a more permanent way for this information to be disseminated and make an impact. In contemplating Remembrance Day, we should investigate and honour the legacy of our veterans, following as many threads as we can find.

Uncle Grenville and his fiancee
If we follow these threads, the information revealed provides opportunities for celebrating the men and women who served. How did they overcome hardships and endure terrible experiences? How did they care for and protect and save their friends with whom they were serving? How did they maintain their senses of humour when there wasn't much to laugh about? For those that didn't come home, what were they studying or pursuing as careers before they were called to serve? What happened to the fiancées whose wedding plans had to be cancelled? How did people adjust to life after conflict? What kind of mental and physical and emotional scars were left from such experiences? Did they maintain war-time friendships throughout their lives, participate in reunions, write letters to each other, or did they prefer to move on from that chapter and focus on a peaceful civilian life? How did people's experiences during times of war and conflict change them? What lessons did they want to impart on the next generation? What impact did people have on their communities, what memories and marks have they left behind? Can they still be seen and felt today?
Following these threads of questions and information will enable us to weave richer collections records and demonstrate legacies in our communities; to reveal connections that aren't obvious.

The questions and stories are seemingly endless. But what better way to honour people than to document and share their far flung and varied legacies. In doing so, we will remember them for a very long time to come.

Grandpa and his buddies, Burma 1945

Thursday, October 31, 2019

October 2019 Update

There is a lot on the go right now. Between the Advisory Service, Museum Evaluation Program, Strategic Plan initiatives, MAP funding deliverables, and "other fun", it's never a dull moment at the ANSM office. If you want to hear about our latest dreams and schemes, be sure to attend a regional meeting. In the meantime, here are the highlights of this month's work.

Museum Evaluation Program
This was a very busy month for the MEP. On October 1st and 8th we had meetings with the Working Group, which mostly consisted of finalizing Accreditation details and reviewing questions for 2020. I've been spending a lot of time updating forms and resources for the coming year, which will hopefully all be ready by next week's orientation sessions. As documents are approved, they are being added to our website. If you are scheduled for evaluation in 2020 and haven't yet registered for an orientation session, click here.

On October 29th we announced Accreditation, and you can now read all about it on our website as well. Accreditation ties into your evaluation year, and the first deadline to apply is December 20th.

Regional Meetings
I hit the road last week for the Southwest Curator's Group meeting in Digby. It was hands-down the most entertaining regional meeting I've ever attended. The amount of laughter was amazing. If you don't participate in these, you should. So much information is shared - ideas, successes, struggles, frustrations. It's professional development and therapy rolled into one. Next month there will be meetings in the Northeast and Cape Breton, so if you are in those regions and haven't yet connected with your regional group, we can help you connect.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Sandi has been editing images from site visits this year and there are some fantastic shots! Thanks to everyone who helped with digitization efforts. The new images are gradually being added to NovaMuse. Keep an eye on the recently added section on the homepage. You may even spot an item you helped capture during hub training

Over the past month, 488 new records and 2,776 new images were added to the databases. This gives us grand totals of 307, 074 records and 212, 962 images. 

Regionally, here's the breakdown:
Southwest - 136, 757 artifacts, 81, 976 images
Central - 102, 744 artifacts, 61, 304 images
Northeast - 36, 458 artifacts, 52, 729 images
Cape Breton - 31, 115 artifacts, 16, 953 images

For the image of the month, we bring you a spooktacular postcard. If there is information written on the back of a postcard, don't forget to scan the back as well. This is a great example demonstrating that two-dimensional items need to be scanned (or photographed straight on if in poorer condition). The border at the top of the postcard is cut off slightly and could be improved if adjusted. Take the extra time to make sure your 2-dimensional items are positioned well in the scanner. Most scanners have a preview function that makes this assessment really easy.

We are working diligently to have the transcription tool test site ready soon. A few of our Advisory Service sites have volunteered to test out this new feature. It's a great time to have a closer look at your collection and think about what material you'd like transcribed. Once ready, you can invite staff and volunteers to explore your records. Why not give them a head start? In the meantime, we encourage you to explore two online transcription tools that we are drawing inspiration from offered by the Nova Scotia Archives and the Royal BC Museum. Stay tuned for more updates!

New Resources Online
Anita, Ayla and Karin locked themselves in a room and talked through various templates and resources. Some were older ones that have been on our website but needed to be updated, and others were brand new. Here's an overview of what got added/updated, and the links:
New section on Governance that includes a board profile worksheet, checklist of material for potential board members, and prospective board member referral form.  
Collections - updated incoming and outgoing loan agreement forms and temporary receipt.
Management - updated volunteer policy.

We are still working on several other new/updated templates, so stay tuned for more announcements like this. If you have a need for a template, let us know and we'll add it to our to do list.

NS Social Studies Teachers Conference
Sandi and Ayla attended the annual provincial conference "Cultural Connections" hosted by the Social Studies Teachers Association of Nova Scotia on Friday, Oct. 25th at Saint Mary's University. It was exciting to have the opportunity to meet 300+ educators from across the province and share information about NovaMuse. We asked teachers what they look for when exploring online educational resources and came back with a lot of helpful feedback. Thanks to everyone who dropped by our booth!

SME Updates
Ayla continues to work with a map expert in efforts to improve records on NovaMuse. Discussions with a ship portraits expert and military insignia expert are also on the horizon. More on this as the SME partnerships unfold. Sandi is editing video footage from her visits to museums with Joleen. New basket related content coming soon to NovaMuse!
We track all of this SME work and have just started to compile a wish list for future partnership projects. We got a great wishlist of SME work from the teachers we met. If you have items in your collection that you'd like to learn more about, please let us know and we'll add them to our list. Or, if you have local experts who you think would enjoy sharing their knowledge with museums, feel free to connect them with us.

Old Loans
This project has taken a lot longer than we thought it would, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our lawyer is reviewing the final draft and hopes to have it back to us by tomorrow. Ayla is making fantastic headway on the lender lists, and has completed 13 so far. Once we get the loan toolkit back from the lawyer we'll publish it on our website and circulate customized toolkits that include lender lists for Advisory Service sites that requested them. If you haven't requested a lender list, let us know. We'll add you to the list. Yes the toolkit represents some work, but the toolkit will guide you through every step of the process. As we've compiled the lender lists we've encountered numerous situations where a lender has passed away within the past 1-2 years, highlighting the importance of reconciling these old loans asap. 

Artefacts Canada
Last week we circulated a message about refreshing content on Artefacts Canada (AC). As we've mentioned in the past, CHIN is working on updating the website, but in the meantime our friends in New Brunswick have developed a tool to easily contribute through CollectiveAccess. We contributed to AC from 2006-2011, but stopped when we switched databases in 2011. Over the past 8 years we've all been doing a lot of work on collection records, so many of the early contributions to AC were outdated and missing images before we did our first refresh this Spring. It's great to be able to refresh these records and mirror what is being shared on NovaMuse in the 'national inventory' (an early term used to describe AC). If you haven't yet responded to last week's message seeing permission to do a biannual refresh of your information, please contact Sandi.

Time-Based Media
Ayla's research project is focusing on multimedia holdings in museum collections. This is something we've never investigated before, so thanks to everyone who responded to her survey about what you have in your collections. She's now writing up her report which will include a guide on how to address these items (digitization, preservation, etc.). This ties in nicely to some NovaMuse upgrades to better share audio and video content, as well as some new preservation tools underway for CollectiveAccess. Isn't it nice when the stars align?

Advisory Service Survey
It is also that time of year, when we check in with members about their likes and dislikes about the Advisory Service. Sandi circulated the annual survey last week, so please remember to complete it. We want to hear your ideas on improvements, what you like best, what is of the least interest, etc. Basically, we want your feedback. The deadline to complete the survey is November 15th.

Museum Moments

Do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear about and share your success story in a featured blog post. Check out our latest Museum Moment post to see what it's all about. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Museum Moments - Engage, Collaborate, and Share

It's important to keep things fresh in museums, offering new content and thinking about ways to engage, collaborate, and share our knowledge with each other. Temporary exhibits are a great opportunity for community engagement and to generate interest. The development of temporary exhibits that focus on local history and stories leads to new content, discussion, and memorable experience for visitors. A great example comes from the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame with the launch of a temporary exhibit featuring the work of Bruce MacKinnon in July this year.

“Sports Illustrated: The Nova Scotia Edition”--- Collection of Bruce MacKinnon originals to be exhibited at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame:

"His work has been a daily fixture in many Nova Scotians’ lives for decades-- Bruce MacKinnon brings humorous, witty and poignant commentary to the pages of The Chronicle Herald with his skillful editorial cartoons. The Hall of Fame will be unveiling a new temporary exhibit in summer 2019 that features a selection of MacKinnon’s greatest sport cartoons. We are very pleased to be able to work with MacKinnon, The Chronicle Herald, StFX and private lenders to share this incredible collection of original drawings. Expect to take a stroll down memory lane with familiar faces and newsworthy moments that are equally thought provoking and amusing. The exhibit opens in July."

The official launch on July 15th featured a Q&A with Bruce MacKinnon himself. This temporary exhibit demonstrates the power of community partnerships and the importance of working with others to showcase local history. This exhibit is running from July 2019 - 2020.

Another notable mention is the Halifax Sport Heritage Walking Tour, which encourage you to visit historic sporting sites in the city. The NSSHF took this one step further by creating a new gallery on NovaMuse highlighting items in their collection with ties to the stories featured in the walking tour. This same approach can be taken for temporary exhibits. Why not create a place for your exhibit to live on using NovaMuse? 

The Cumberland County Museum hosted a travelling exhibit from July 26th-October 6th: "Enemy Aliens: Internment in Canada, 1914-1920," by the Canadian War Museum in partnership with the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation. According to an article by the The Chronicle Herald, "One of the largest camps was in Amherst, located between Park Street, Patterson Street and the rail line, and had a population of 853 men. It closed in September 1919." It's important to look for connections to local history when considering temporary exhibits and this is a great example of this approach.

Past "What is it?" Cabinet -
West Hants Historical Society 
Looking to make an exhibit more interactive? Why not consider building a 'What is it?' and 'Who am I?' temporary exhibit, which encourages visitors to fill in the gaps. Don't know an object's history of use? when it was made? who made it? Ask your visitors. Not only will you be pleasantly surprised by what you learn during this process, it is another opportunity for participation. Many of our Advisory Service sites see positive results when they ask the public to help identify unknown items or individuals in photographs. This can be done both onsite and online.

Remember to include a link to the record on NovaMuse in your social media posts! This directs your audience to the online record, which often contains more detailed information. Crowd-sourcing information is a fantastic way to encourage the public to contribute their own knowledge and invest in your collections.

Monday, September 30, 2019

September 2019 Update

Museum Evaluation Program
Reports were mailed out on September 6th. It felt great to meet this deadline, and huge thanks go to the evaluation team leaders who did reviewing and proofreading for us before reports went in the mail. If you haven't already, please let me know that you received your report.

As soon as I write this blog post and answer a few more emails, I'll be circulating the announcement about 2020 evaluations. If your museum is scheduled for an evaluation next year, watch your inbox. The announcement will include orientation session dates and registration information.

We had hoped to launch Accreditation at our annual conference, but it was decided that the MEP Working Group needed to review and talk through a few more things before we launched. They have two meetings scheduled for the coming weeks, so stay tuned because information about Accreditation is coming really, really soon. The MEPWG will also be finalizing adjustments to the evaluation forms, so again, stay tuned and we'll let you know when that info is available on our website.

To wrap up 2019 evaluations, this Friday is the deadline to submit questions or comments about evaluation reports. After that we set the scores in stone and work on the statistical analysis for the big overarching report. If you were evaluated this year, don't forget to complete the post-evaluation survey. The feedback we get is very valuable in improving the program and process.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Tomorrow is Sandi's final site visit of the season, and it's been another great one for digitization and hub training. It's also easy to tell by this month's numbers that the cavalry (aka summer staff) have dispersed. Over the past month, 624 new records and 2,144 new images were added to the databases. This gives us grand totals of 306,586 records and 210,186 images.
Regionally, here's the breakdown:
Southwest - 136,701 artifacts, 80,169 images
Central - 102,460 artifacts, 60,527 images
Northeast - 36,351 artifacts, 52,598 images
Cape Breton - 31,074 artifacts, 16,892 images

Don't forget to set your records and images to be accessible to the public so people can see them on NovaMuse. We've got a big gap between the number of records in the collections and what is actually being shared.

It's been a long time since we've done an image of the month lesson, so let's get back to that shall we? Here we have an interesting print of a child with some dogs. The child appears to be dressed for a hunt, and the dogs are eager for the chase. Lots of interpretive potential. Unfortunately, the photograph doesn't do the artifact justice. First and foremost, artifacts should not be directly on the floor, even if it's just for photographing purposes. The wide 'leftover' space on the right and left are very distracting, with different colours, a door frame, tiled floor, and moulding all distracting us from the artwork we are supposed to be focusing on. The camera should have been oriented vertically instead of horizontally so more of the item was captured, and the print should have been photographed head on instead of at an angle. Fabric or other light blockers should have been used to avoid glare and reflections in the glass of the frame, giving us a better view of the print's details. The scale is also directly against the frame, obscuring some of those details. As we've seen in the past, this is an instance where taking a few extra minutes to do a proper set up would have resulted in a much better image that we would be proud to show off to the world.

SME Updates
Sandi has had fun working with SMEs this summer, and now Ayla is stepping into this job for the fall. Right now she is busy reviewing maps in museum collections and will be reviewing these with a new SME friend over the next couple of months. This is a new area for us to investigate, and we're excited to learn more about the maps in museum collections and see how we can improve their documentation. If Ayla and David are able to tell you more about a map in your collection, she will be in touch.
If you have items in your collection you'd like to learn more about, please contact Sandi or Karin. We would like to come up with a prioritized list of SME needs, so knowing what you're interested in learning about would be very helpful.

Multimedia Survey
Ayla's big internship project is to assess and develop a plan for dealing with multimedia in museum collections. This could be old vhs tapes of home movies, audiocassettes of oral histories, and much more. If you haven't yet completed her survey, please do so. We want this plan to capture all the kinds of media in collections and help us prioritize future special initiatives, and we can't do that without your input. It will take a bit of work if you need to check what's on shelves or in boxes, but we think it will be worth the effort. Links to the survey were sent out in early September and again last Friday, so check your inbox for those messages. If you can't find the link and need it to be resent, contact Sandi, Karin or Ayla.

Old Loans
The loan reconciliation toolkit has been updated, and is now being reviewed before it is released. There is a lot of good legal information in it, and it takes a very practice, step-by-step approach to addressing old loans in collections. No matter your size or shape, the steps are the same and we hope you will find it helpful. We will announce when it gets posted to our website. Lender lists continue to be developed. If you haven't yet requested yours, contact Sandi or Karin.

ANSM Annual Conference
In case you missed it, we spent a couple days in Sherbrooke Village recently. While it was a little chilly, it was nice to be in such a beautiful part of the province and enjoy talking and learning about visitor experiences and fundamental museum practices. People are still sending in photos of their conference experience, so stay tuned to our Facebook page for a photo album to appear shortly. In the meantime, here's a photo I took during one of my experiences - the art of the travel journal was a session that looked at how to get people to slow down, put down their phones, and enjoy making some art in a beautiful location. The lemonade and cookies didn't hurt either. This was one of four sessions that used a hands on experience to get people thinking about what simple experiences they can create for their own museum.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Introducing Ms. McKay

Hello! My name is Ayla, and I will be interning with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums for the next fifteen weeks as my final requirement to graduate from Fleming College's Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management (CHCM) program. I am looking forward to the work I will be doing here.

Originally from Saskatchewan, I have called Halifax my home for the last twelve years. I graduated from Dalhousie University in 2012 with a B.A.(Hon.) in Social Anthropology, and spent the next six years exploring my options before I discovered the Conservation program at Fleming. After spending two years at NSCC completing a diploma in print production and four years working in a variety of environments, I hope to bring the best of my varied experience forward into my work.

I am very pleased to be back in Halifax for my internship, as I've grown to love it and its rich history and heritage in the time that I've lived here. I am excited for the growth and learning opportunities that this internship will provide to me, and will strive to offer the best of my abilities in return!


Friday, August 30, 2019

August 2019 Updates

Museum Evaluation Program
Writing, writing writing! September 6th is the day we hope to mail out evaluation reports to the 29 sites evaluated this year. 19 reports are complete, and the remaining 10 are all partially complete, so we are on track to meet this deadline.

We are also actively planning for 2020 evaluations. Orientation sessions will take place in October and November, and once we finalize the arrangements, we will announce dates and locations. There will again be four sessions across the province. If you are slated for evaluation in 2020 or are interested in learning more about the program, this is a great place to start.

Membership Renewal
If you are a member of the Advisory Service and haven't yet sent in your membership renewal, now is the time. We won't name names, but there are still a few outstanding renewals. Emails and phone calls are coming your way! We have some special projects and partnerships up our sleeves for fall and winter; we need your renewal in order for you to participate. You won't want to miss out. Trust me.

CollectiveAccess Updates
It's kind of cool to think about how far we've come. In 2006, it was decided to try and get some collection records online. Now here we are in 2019 with 305,962 items in CollectiveAccess, with more being added every day. "Only" 230,345 are available to the public on NovaMuse, so don't forget to check your access status when you're adding new records.
Over the past month, 4,720 new records and 14,616 new images were added. Wow. Those are very impressive numbers. 
Here's the regional breakdown:
Southwest - 136,677 artifacts 79,208 images
Central - 102,088 artifacts, 59,545 images
Northeast - 36,309 artifacts, 52,446 images
Cape Breton - 30,888 artifacts, 16,843 images

Don't forget about the new features! Our YouTube tutorials cover how to use the change log and manage statistics. You can also learn how to use the new editor alerts function to clean up records. Remember that the Help Menu provides quick access to FAQs, Resources, and contact information. The CollectiveAccess Manual has also been updated to reflect the new database features.

It's never too early to plan for next season! Why not start using the Seasonal Work Calendar? Remember, you can customize this document to suit your site's needs.

Hub Training
Hub Training - Old Sydney Society
& Wallace and Area Museum
In August, we offered hub training at the Old Sydney Society and Wallace and Area Museum. It's hard to believe we are nearing the end of the summer but don't worry! There is still one session remaining:

DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

Registration is nearly full so email Sandi ( to secure one of the remaining spots! If you participated in one of the hub training sessions this year, please send in your feedback - you would have received an invite to fill out the online survey by email and it's not too late to reply.

Joleen and Museum Staff
SME Update
Joleen and Sandi visited L'Acadie de Chezzetcook to see a number of baskets in person. We can't thank Joleen enough for sharing her knowledge and participating in this partnership once again. She shared many insightful tips that we are excited to share with you soon. We plan on editing the video footage, which will be featured in the audio/video feature on NovaMuse shortly.

Looking to partner with subject matter experts in your own community? Check out our SME tip sheet! This is a great place to start.

Don't forget the video series showcasing the SME partnership with Kings County Museum. Learn more about bottles and silverware directly from the experts.

Transcription Tool Update
We are currently working on a test site and a few of our Advisory Service sites have been so kind to test out this new feature for us. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore two online transcription tools that we are drawing inspiration from offered by the Nova Scotia Archives and the Royal BC Museum. Stay tuned for more updates!

Old Loans
We mentioned last month that we had just received info from the lawyer helping us on this special project. Once evaluation reports are finished, Karin will finish updating our reconciliation toolkit. We've got a long list of museums that have asked for help in developing their lender lists, but if you haven't yet requested yours, be in touch with Sandi or Karin. We'll add you to the list and send you a customized loan reconciliation plan using the new toolkit.

Museum Moments 
Do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post!

Conference Update
Registration is now open for this year’s conference: Mining Your Museum: Making Every Nugget Count. This year’s conference theme is capacity building. Tues., September 17th 7:00pm – Thurs., September 19th 5:00pm at Sherbrooke Village. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

July 2019 Update

Site Evaluation, Port Hastings Museum
photo credit Yvonne Fox
Museum Evaluation Program
The much anticipated site evaluations took place this month. 12 museum professionals served as evaluators and criss-crossed the province, visiting 29 sites over the course of three weeks. You can check out our evaluation photo album on Facebook to see where we went and what these museums are up to.

So what happens next? The evaluation process is far from over. Karin is now tabulating the scores from the 87 site evaluation forms, after which the evaluation reports will be developed. For those museums that were evaluated in 2016, you'll notice some additional graphs and info in this year's report, including a comparison between this year's results and your previous results. Reports will be mailed out in early September.

IMAC & Advisory Service membership
If you haven't yet sent in your membership renewal, now is the time to do it! We have a lot on the go, and you don't want to miss out on opportunities to participate in special projects.
In more exciting news, IMAC met yesterday and approved three applications for museums to join the Advisory Service. Yay new friends!! They approved another application at their last meeting, so that means we are now at capacity with 55 museums participating in this membership program. Last fall as part of our strategic plan, we set a goal of reaching capacity by 2023, so we were really pleased by the response to our call-out for new participants.

CollectiveAccess Updates
301,212 artifacts documented with 193,426 associated images,  which means that 1,660 new records and 3,385 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. Congratulations to all regions for collectively breaking the 300,000 mark! Great work.

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:

Southwest - 134,564 artifacts 75,411 images
Central - 101,344 artifacts, 56,106 images
Northeast - 34,546 artifacts, 45,659 images
Cape Breton - 30,758 artifacts, 16,250 images

Hub Training
We have reached the half way mark for hub training sessions. Don't miss out! Why not attend one of the three remaining sessions?

Old Sydney Society (Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS) - Tues., August 13th 10 AM
Wallace and Area Museum (Wallace, NS) - Thurs., August 29th 9 AM
DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

Hub Training - Port Hastings Museum
There are spots remaining in our upcoming session. Advisory Service members also expressed interest in later training opportunities this year so the last two sessions will take place in August and September.

Haven't had the opportunity to join in yet? These sessions are a great time for you to take part in digitization training once you wind down from a busy summer at your museum. This year, there is a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items with connections to manufacturing and makers in Nova Scotia, further enhancing connections to Made in Nova Scotia. Spots fill up quickly so please email Sandi ( as soon as possible to express interest.

New and Improved Resources
Looking for an easy way to track changes in CollectiveAccess? Watch our latest tutorials to learn how to use the change log and manage statistics. Did you know the database can also suggest edits? Learn how to use the new editor alerts function to clean up records.

The CollectiveAccess Manual has also been updated to reflect new database features.

Looking to expand your galleries on myNovaMuse? Why not check out Webinar 5 - Identifying, Linking & Sharing Stories in our collections management webinar series and the NovaMuse Stories Guide. This would be a fun end of summer project for students. Did they take interest in specific records that tell a great story? Why not share it with your online audience as well! Did you have a fantastic temporary display? Why not feature it in a gallery so that others can see it's a part of your online collection! The sky is the limit. If you are having trouble finding your log-in information, please contact Sandi.

Exciting news! We are in the process of developing a transcription tool for NovaMuse. We will be working with a few museums in the Advisory Service to test out this new tool shortly.

One of our ongoing goals is to continue to add new entries and expand on existing entries in the manufacturer database. Do you have information about manufacturing and/or makers in your area and would like to share? Let us know! We'd like to add to our Made in NS resource list.

SME Update
Joleen w/ Lordly House Museum (bottom left)
Joleen and Sandi (bottom right)
We are working with a few returning SMEs this year who have been so kind to offer their expertise to further enrich records found in CollectiveAccess and on NovaMuse. We are excited to announce that we have received funding to improve the multimedia capacity of NovaMuse that will give us the opportunity to add a more robust narrative to records online. Our SMEs are great sports and will be the first to contribute to this enhanced feature. 

This month, Sandi visited the Dartmouth Heritage Museum and Lordly House Museum with Joleen Gordon who has offered to share her knowledge of baskets and wooden flowers with us. Video footage of the artifact identification process will soon be added to records on NovaMuse. Sandi and Joleen looks forward to visiting the Acadian House Museum in August. More updates on SME work soon!

Old Loans
Last week we received more info from the lawyer helping us on this project. We are very pleased with the results as they help to clarify the risks associated with 'permanent' loans in museums. The next step is to add all of this legal info into our loan reconciliation toolkit. We've also had many museums ask for lender lists to help them jump start the reconciliation process once the toolkit is released. This is really encouraging, and we hope to see a drastic reduction in the number of outstanding loans in the years to come. If you are a CollectiveAccess user and haven't yet asked for your lender list, contact Sandi or Karin.

Museum Moments 
Do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Book Review - The Birth of the Museum: history, theory, politics

image from
As we've shared on social media, in the winter we took advantage of a fantastic book sale and also received two very generous donations of museum literature. These have greatly expanded our reference library.

The first 'new' addition that I read felt like an appropriate place to start. Written by Tony Bennett (not that Tony Bennett) and published by Routledge in 1995, this is not your standard book on the history and development of museums. Bennett takes a serious look at museological development in Australia, Europe and North America, and how museums played a role in social development, gender equality, education, and much more. He also looks at the motivations behind these activities. What I really appreciate about Bennett's take on museological history is that he doesn't shy away from harsh truths. Rather than tooting our professional horn, he acknowledges the good, the bad and the ugly. He also includes world fairs, exhibition centres, and other similar activities and events in his analysis, and includes many quotes from early museum designers and planners that reveal motivations and goals, some of which will make you shake your head. This makes for a rich, diverse look at how we have showcased and displayed, celebrated and mocked our collective history, and how those teachings and the museum environment have translated into long-term, generational lessons.

Bennett identifies three issues that were driving forces in 19th century museum development. Firstly, museum designers and planners absolutely thought of museums as public, social spaces and wanted to make a serious shift away from the private, exclusive museums that were in existence. The second issue, also a major shift, was to move from presenting cabinets of curiousity to educational forums that would teach visitors. This teaching would be done through exhibit design and labels. George Brown Goode presented a lecture in 1889 that noted a desire to transform the museum of the past "into a nursery of living thought". I think that's a great question to ask ourselves today. Is our museum a nursery of living thought? Are we cultivating questions and discussions? The third issue was really about the visitor. Designers and planners recognized that society was changing, partially because of the industrial revolution, and that there was a huge opportunity for education around things as simple as being polite. The museum's public, accessible space offered an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to gather, to watch and learn from each other. This concern over proper behaviour even translated into building design, with promenades, galleries, and elevated areas providing plenty of open space and ability for museum staff to keep an eye on visitors and address any "inappropriate" behaviour immediately. They also expected visitors to monitor and address issues as well, through disapproving looks or remarks.

Bennett reminds us that while western museums were some of the first public places that welcomed and encouraged women to visit (go equal rights!), this often came from a place of fear. Planners were afraid that museum crowds would turn into mobs, and that the buildings and collections would be damaged. They figured that men behave better when women are present, so if they encouraged men and women to visit museums as a social activity, this would help to maintain order. No I am not making this up.

He also faces colonialism head-on, and demonstrates how these racist attitudes have had a lasting impact on our societies. His discussion on chronological exhibit design will make you think.
"The devices which rendered human progress into a performable narrative within the museum entailed that only some humans and not others could recognize themselves as fully addressed by that narrative and thus be able to carry out its performative routines." Let's admit it, we've been really slow at changing out exhibits and labels and other interpretive text, so there is some insensitive information still being presented that definitely doesn't help in the era of reconciliation. I still sometimes see "Micmac" in Nova Scotia's museums, even though I remember being told clearly as a young child in school, "even though the textbook spells it Micmac, it should be spelled and pronounced Mi'kmaq". Not that I'm trying to age myself, but that was almost 30 years ago. I think it's time to show a little respect to our First Nation friends and neighbours.

Even our educational history is tarnished with elitist intentions. Bennett shares numerous quotes that illustrate the hope of museum founders to improve the morals and behaviour of the low classes in order to render them more acceptable to encounter while out in society. In the various quotes that Bennett shares on this subject, the museum planners come across as wanting to make things better for the privileged in society, rather than trying to help lift anyone out of poverty or illiteracy or ignorance. Believe it or not, instruction booklets for museum visitors were part of this process, and included things as fundamental as how to dress. They may speak of the benefits to the "lower classes", but their comments are dripping in elitism and a desire to make the spaces popular with the privileged.

In thinking about this complex and difficult past, Bennett encourages museums to look to their visitor statistics and make use of them (yes!!! a thousand times yes!). As he puts it, "studies of museum visitors thus make it abundantly clear not only that museum attendance varies directly with such variables as class, income, occupation and, most noticeable, education, but also that the barriers to participation, as perceived by non-attenders, are largely cultural. Those sections of the population which make little use of museums clearly feel that the museum constitutes a cultural space that is not meant for them - and, as we have seen, not without reason."

Aside from the different perspective presented, which I will be rolling into our Museums 101 course, finishing this book left me with a series of questions. I wonder what I've been programmed to understand as a museum. Do I behave differently when I'm in one? What are our true intentions when we develop programs, design exhibits, or seek partnerships. Have we shaken off our elitist history? Are we trying to be self-serving? Or are we legitimately trying to make our communities better for everyone?

Friday, June 28, 2019

June 2019 Update

Museum Evaluation Program
This month has been full of scoring and writing. I (Karin) am very excited to say that we are finished reading and scoring the 2,497 files submitted for Documentation Review, and that all of that information has been distilled into Briefing Notes on each museum for the evaluators. It feels great to finish these pieces of the puzzle. Next Wednesday the evaluators are coming to our office for a full day of orientation. We'll be discussing the site evaluation process, questionnaire form, travel logistics, and lots more. Last year orientation day felt like old home week, and we're looking forward to eating cake with our colleagues again. After the orientation session, team leaders will be getting in touch with each museum on their list to confirm their arrival time and other logistical information.

The MEP Working Group held an online meeting on June 13th to discuss eligibility for Accreditation, and has also been talking through question updates/adjustments for 2020. One of this year's changes to the evaluation process is that we'll be asking participants to complete a survey about their experience. We always ask for feedback, but want to formalize this process a bit more. If there are questions you find confusing, things you think are missing or shouldn't be included, or any ideas for improvements, we want to hear about them.

CollectiveAccess Updates
299,552 artifacts documents with 190,041 associated images, which means that 1,029 new records and 4,046 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Southwest region added the most images this month. Great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,710 artifacts, 74,084 images
Central - 101,099 artifacts, 54,640 images
Northeast - 34,111 artifacts, 45,069 images
Cape Breton - 30,632 artifacts, 16,248 images

With Canada Day right around the corner, let's return to this great example for our digitization tip. Here's a beautiful maple leaf patch. For items like this, remember that you can digitize them with and without the scale, using the non-scaled image as your primary image for NovaMuse, and keeping the scale image in your database for quick reference. You can see how a scale would be very distracting in this shot.

In terms of 'fixing' this shot, you'll notice a sort of greyish line that runs through from the top left to bottom right. Play with your lighting and camera settings to make sure that your image is evenly lit and doesn't have shadows in any areas.

Hub Training
Hub training is the perfect opportunity for staff, summer students, and volunteers to take part in group digitization training. This year, there is a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items with connections to manufacturing and makers in Nova Scotia, further enhancing connections to Made in Nova Scotia. Spots tend to fill up quickly so please email Sandi ( as soon as possible to express interest in participating!

As you can see, sessions at the Admiral Digby Museum and Scott Manor House were a great success!

There is still opportunities for you to participate, please email Sandi ASAP to reserve a spot.

The remaining sessions are scheduled for:

Port Hastings Museum (Port Hastings, NS) - Thurs., July 18th 1 PM
Old Sydney Society (Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS) - Tues., August 13th 10 AM
Wallace and Area Museum (Wallace, NS) - Thurs., August 29th 9 AM
DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

Intro to CollectiveAccess Webinar 
This year, we are offering a webinar introducing CollectiveAccess to new users and returning users who would like a refresher. During this live demonstration, we will review basic data entry and search functions in the database. The last session for this summer is scheduled for July 2nd at 10 am. Please note that this session will cover the same material as the first session that has gone past. An invitation containing the link to join the webinar has been sent to Advisory Service members, check your inboxes!

New and Improved Resources
Looking for an easy way to track changes in CollectiveAccess? Watch our latest tutorials to learn how to use the change log and manage statistics.

Did you know the database can also suggest edits? Learn how to use the new editor alerts function to clean up records.

The CollectiveAccess Manual has also been updated to reflect new database features.

Exciting news! We are in the process of developing a transcription tool for NovaMuse. More information to come, stay tuned!

SME Update
We will work with a few returning SMEs this year who have been so kind to offer their expertise to further enrich records found in CollectiveAccess and on NovaMuse. We are excited to announce that we have received funding to improve the multimedia capacity of NovaMuse that will give us the opportunity to add a more robust narrative to records online. Our SMEs are great sports and will be the first to contribute to this enhanced feature. More on this soon!

Museum Moments 
Do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post! Check out our latest post, which highlights reorg projects completed by West Hants Historical Society and Colchester Historeum.

Fleming College
In preparation for Ayla joining us in September, we're slowly working through her learning contract, which is essentially a work plan that she gets graded on. As we noted last month, she'll be investigating media and file formats in museums, so start thinking about those cassette tapes and film reels and other multimedia holdings sitting on shelves and in boxes. She'll be talking you up about them, and working on some digital preservation procedures, and much, much more.
We're also reviewing our annual Fleming/NovaMuse class project. It won't be disappearing, but we're going to standardize reports and make a few adjustments to make the project easier for Fleming and ANSM to administrate.

Artefacts Canada
The refreshing of collection records on Artefacts Canada continues. In addition to the old records that have been updated, we've added 59,585 new records and 58,188 new images. Martine at CHIN assures me that she's having fun processing all the data and helping you get your content online. We'll be doing another refresh this fall, which will be much easier since we will only have 5 months of updates to process instead of 8 years worth.

Old Loans
This project is definitely taking longer than we hoped, but right now the lawyer is doing a bit more work on proof of ownership and public notices. We'll then find some time to update the toolkit and release it to the world. In the meantime, if you haven't requested your list of lenders from your database, feel free to do so. We've had a number of museums do this and notice board members or volunteers with items on loan, and they've been able to clear those up quickly and easily. We've also had a couple museums notice that information didn't get updated in the database when a loan was reconciled, so this serves as a good spot check for the reliability of your data.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Museum Moments - Reorg Projects (Before and After)

Today, I will discuss the importance of reorganization projects in storage spaces. Do you think your museum is in need of a reorg project? I suggest following the Self-Evaluation Tool for Collections in Storage by CCI and ICCROM to find out if your space would benefit from this process. The Re-Org Workbook outlines ten quality criteria, which define a professionally managed and functional storage room. 1-7 can typically be met through a physical reorganization that aims to improve access to collections. 8-10 may require further mid- to long-term improvements.

1. One qualified member of staff is in charge
2. The storage rooms contain only collection objects
3. Separate spaces are dedicated to support functions: office, workroom, storage of equipment and
other materials (non-collection)
4. No object is placed directly on the floor
5. Every object has a designated location in storage and can be located within three minutes
6. Every object can be accessed without moving more than two others
7. Objects are arranged by category
8. Key policies and procedures exist and are applied
9. The building and storage rooms offer adequate protection for the collection
10. Every object is free from active deterioration and is ready to be used for the museum’s activities

The Colchester Historeum and the West Hants Historical Society have been kind enough to share their reorg journeys. Both examples provide helpful tips that will aid you in this process. Some helpful take-a-ways from the re-org projects are as follows:
West Hants Historical Society wall 1 (Before/After)

West Hants Historical Society wall 2 (Before/After)
Create a plan - Looking at your self-assessment results and using the re-org workbook, identify your top priorities, resources you'll require, and a plan of action. You know your space, so if your current storage is frustrating or difficult to access/manage, address those frustrations in your plan.

Create a Swing Space - Since you'll be moving things around, make sure you have a clear space where you can put items while you address the shelving or other storage furniture. Group items by collection and non-collection to make things easier later on.

Strategically organize the space - Each item deserves it's own space. Artifacts shouldn't be stacked on top of one another. Check out for practical info on storage solutions. You can also check out the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes Series 1 (Care of Collections - General Guidelines), under General Precautions for Storage Areas, which notes:

"Different categories of objects require different storage methods, e.g. screens, racks, metal or wood shelving, metal or wood cabinets, drawing cabinets, platforms, and rolled storage. The choice of method and material depends on the resources available to the institution and on the type of artifact being stored. Whatever kind of unit is chosen, it should be made of materials that are chemically inert and have good long-term stability. The same rules apply to wrapping, padding, and support materials. Paints or other finishes used on storage systems should also be of proven stability."

Also, creating a designated location for new acquisitions that acts as a temporary holding area for items being processed is a great idea.

Clearly label storage locations -  For instance, "Shelf 1," "Shelf 2," etc. West Hants Historical Society labelled each shelf accordingly so that artefacts can be located quickly and with ease.

Put stuff back - Grouping similar items together, move the collection items from your swing space into your renewed storage space. Try to find homes for the non-collection items elsewhere so there is no confusion about what is part of the collection and what isn't.

Complete an inventory - After the reorg has taken place, it's important to document exactly where everything is located. It's time to complete an inventory. If you are unsure how to do this, I recommend watching our webinar on this topic, which will walk you through the process.
If items are missing labels, set the item aside in a designated area for artefacts missing accession numbers that require further investigation.

Check Documentation - Sometimes identification labels fall off or fade over time. Look for donor forms, gift/loan agreements, and other supporting documentation for items missing accession numbers. If you discover something is on loan, treat it like a potential acquisition and then work through the reconciliation process.

Margaret Mulrooney, Curator/Administrator at the Colchester Museum describes the Basement Re-Org project and the steps that were taken:

"From March 1-3, 2016, the Colchester Historeum was the workshop site for RE-ORG Atlantic. Sixteen museum professionals from the Atlantic Provinces, Ontario and even Belgium worked to re-organize the Historeum’s third floor artifact storage room. The Historeum received funding for compact shelving through the federal Museums Assistance Program to maximize storage efficiency.

After the stationary metal shelving units were removed from the third floor storage space, they were moved to our basement storage area. The basement RE-ORG and inventory ran from October 2016-March 2017. An intern was hired with funding through the Young Canada Works Building Careers in Heritage Program. With the help of the Curator and some helpful volunteers, the intern adjusted the stationary shelves to maximize storage efficiency. While conducting the inventory, the intern was also photographing the objects and uploading these photographs to Collective Access.

Colchester Historeum - coroplast boxes
In order to further maximize storage efficiency and eliminate wasted space, coroplast boxes were made to fit snugly in the smaller metal shelving units. These boxes house smaller objects such as tools and kitchen items.

Colchester Historeum Storage Area (Before)
The coroplast was initially purchased and used to construct boxes during the RE-ORG Atlantic workshop. During the workshop 20 boxes were constructed. An additional 52 boxes were later constructed for the third floor and basement storage rooms. The total cost of the coroplast was $812 with each box costly approximately $11.28. Constructing the boxes can be challenging at first but once a pattern is created the boxes can be built fairly easily.

Colchester Historeum Storage Area (After)

The RE-ORG projects have allowed the Historeum to gain control of its artifact collection and allow easy online access to the collection through NovaMuse. Although this multi-phase project took several years to complete, it has allowed for a dramatic increase in efficiency when researching for exhibits, programming, and general public inquiries about the collection. The artifacts also are now safely housed and no longer over crowded."

The before and after photos demonstrate how a strong plan of action and a bit of creativity can go a long way.

Friday, May 31, 2019

May 2019 Update

Conferences & Meetings
The first conference of the month was the annual one of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, where Sandi presented on our SME work and encouraged attendees to engage with local experts to learn more about their collections. It was great to hear about non-traditional uses and approaches to archival collection issues, and how the information in them is becoming more and more accessible. I (Karin) somehow missed getting a photo of her in action, so here she is all ready to talk up the amazing work by David, Marven and Kassandra.

I spent this week running from one conference to another. The Canadian Evaluation Society was in Halifax for its annual conference, which afforded an opportunity to learn more about broader evaluation practices and issues. I attended workshops and sessions on communication strategies for transforming results into action, evaluator integrity, community-led evaluation practices, decision-making and its impact on the evaluation process, and using results to form strategic plans. I have a lot of notes, takeaways, and information to process. It was great to delve deeper into the  evaluation world and get input on the Museum Evaluation Program from professional evaluators.

The second conference of the week was the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property, which is still taking place today and tomorrow. It's been a few years since I've attended the CAC conference, and it was great to see some old friends, colleagues, and even two of my teachers. What made this conference especially special, was that I had the honour of delivering the opening keynote. Not only was this a huge compliment, but it was exciting to share the amazing work of our member museums with a national audience. I was asked to speak on how community museums address collections care issues, and thanks to all of the great community museums we work with, had plenty of examples to share. The next session of the conference focused on conservation projects in Nova Scotia, so by lunch time the attendees had a pretty solid understanding of the scope of work being done in our wonderful province.

Museum Evaluation Program
May 3rd, aka the deadline for Documentation Review, came and went. This year felt pretty smooth since most museums uploaded their files gradually and well in advance of the deadline. So where are we at now? While museums shift gears to prepare for the July site evaluation, we at ANSM are reviewing and scoring the Doc Review files. Unfortunately, not everyone cleaned up their 2016 submitted files, so the MEP Working Group is now debating how to address this issue in the future. As you can imagine, this makes the review process much more difficult and lengthy. So while we had great intentions and thought this would make things easier, we'll have to figure out a better process for next year.
The working group is also tackling question review for 2020 and policies and procedures for Accreditation. They are a very busy group. We had one virtual meeting this month and what felt like a million emails and discussion threads in the Google group.

CollectiveAccess Updates
There are now 298,523 artifacts documents with 185,995 associated images, which means that 286 new records and 1,496 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month. The Southwest region added the most images this month. Great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 133,567 artifacts, 71,849 images
Central - 100,955 artifacts, 54,155 images
Northeast - 33,691 artifacts, 43,862 images
Cape Breton - 30,310 artifacts, 16,129 images

A number of new tutorials have been added to our YouTube channel to review new features in the database, please visit the CollectiveAccess tutorials playlist. Topics include:

Exporting Records to Artefacts Canada
Using the Nomenclature Website
Adding Child Records (New & Existing Records)
Using Change Log
Help Menu

Other important resources to share with your team:
CollectiveAccess Manual
NovaMuse Stories Guide
Artefact Photography Tips
QR Code How-To Guide

Fleming College
Hot off the press, we are super excited to announce that an intern from Fleming's Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program will be joining us this Fall. As part of her internship, she will be surveying museums to see what media formats are in collections, so put on your thinking caps and be ready to answer her questions about this in September. Do you have cassette tapes of oral histories sitting on shelves? Film reels or vhs tapes of old family movies? She will want to hear about it.

Artefacts Canada
As we've been mentioning, before there was NovaMuse, we shared collections info on Artefacts Canada. Over the past month we have asking permission to refresh the old 2011 records with the latest records from NovaMuse. So far, we've added 25,000 records and 30,000 images. If you haven't yet responded to a request to refresh your collections info on AC, please do so. If you haven't yet heard from us, you will soon. Or you can be proactive and reach out to us first. Our plan is to refresh AC twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall, until their website renewal process is complete and we will be able to share automatically between the two sites.

Old Loans
While we still haven't wrapped up the new Loan Reconciliation Toolkit, we can still be working on prepping lender lists in anticipation of this new resource. If you haven't asked us for your lender list yet, email Sandi or Karin, even if you think you don't have many loans in the museum. We hear that a lot and when we actually look into the records, they sometimes reveal a very different reality.

Site Visits
The schedules have been released, please check your email for updates. Hub training is the perfect opportunity for staff, summer students, and volunteers to take part in group digitization training. This year, there will be a focus on digitizing 2-dimensional items with connections to manufacturing and makers in Nova Scotia, further enhancing connections to Made in Nova Scotia. Spots tend to fill up quickly so please email Sandi ( as soon as possible to express interest in participating!

Admiral Digby Museum (Digby, NS) - Wed., June 5th 1 PM
Scott Manor House (Bedford, NS) - Tues., June 18th 9:30 AM
Port Hastings Museum (Port Hastings, NS) - Thurs., July 18th 1 PM
Old Sydney Society (Charlotte Street, Sydney, NS) - Tues., August 13th 10 AM
Wallace and Area Museum (Wallace, NS) - Thurs., August 29th 9 AM
DesBrisay Museum (Bridgewater, NS) - Thurs., September 12th 9 AM

We still have openings for next week's session. Email Sandi ASAP to reserve a spot!

SME Update - we will work with a few returning SMEs this year who have been so kind to offer their expertise to further enrich records found in CollectiveAccess and on NovaMuse. We are excited to announce that we have received funding to improve the multimedia capacity of NovaMuse that will give us the opportunity to add a more robust narrative to records online. Our SMEs are great sports and will be the first to contribute to this enhanced feature.

Museum Moments - do you have tips you'd like to share regarding collections management? What about an event or special project you'd like to highlight? We'd love to hear and share your story in a featured blog post!

Membership Packages will be mailed out soon! Please keep an eye out. Questions? Please contact Jennifer (admin[at]