Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September 2020 Update

Changes at ANSM
The office and our virtual staff meetings are looking different. In case you missed it, Sandi has embraced a teaching opportunity with Dalhousie University. It was tough to see her go, but we're excited for her and look forward to hearing about her adventures. In terms of replacements, when we talked about it, we realized that rather than hire someone immediately we should look at this as an opportunity to review the Advisory Service. 

To give us the time to do this review, we have welcomed back Ayla McKay as our part-time Member Services Assistant. It's rare that we get to bring an intern back so we're pleased that this worked out, and Ayla has hit the ground running on all sorts of tasks.

For those of you who are part of the Advisory Service, please complete the survey if you haven't yet. We've only had 16 responses so far and we definitely want to hear from more people than that. If you need me to resend the link, just say the word. IMAC has had one very productive meeting already and has a second planned for late October. We need your input on the next phase of the Advisory Service's life, your ideas for CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse upgrades, your preferences for site visits and training...we are looking to you for direction.

Another change that is taking place this fall is that we will be delivering two Museum Studies Program courses virtually. First up is Museums and Community, which is delivered by the wonderfully talented Dr. Candace Tangorra Matelic. If you haven't yet taken this course, I strongly encourage you to do so. Candace is a wonderful facilitator, and she just revised the course looks fantastically helpful to museums of all shapes and sizes.

Museum Evaluation Program
Since our Museums and Community workshop will be taking place on Thursdays, the October and November Deep Dives will be shifting to Fridays at 130pm, the day after they were originally scheduled. Next up is Interpretation on October 9th. To register, click here. Also keep in mind that we have recordings of earlier sessions, so if you missed out, or know you can't participate in a future session, let me know and I'll pass on the recording link. We have a bit of a backlog in video processing, but hope to clear that soon and have all sessions readily available.

CollectiveAccess Updates
What a busy month of collections management work. 1,641 new records and an impressive 4,683 new images were added to the databases. Wow. Ayla has also started processing Sandi's artwork digitization images so stay tuned for those - some really beautiful artworks will be introduced to NovaMuse visitors! 

Here's how the different regions are doing:

Southwest: 140,304 artifacts, 90,591 images   141,217 artifacts, 91,945 images
Central: 103,846 artifacts, 76,320 images   103,885 artifacts, 77,784 images
Northeast: 40,485 artifacts, 57,126    40,870 artifacts, 57,791 images
Cape Breton: 30,928 artifacts, 18,835 images   31,232 artifacts, 20,035 images

Last month I mentioned that our launch of #NovaMuseEd is (hopefully) going to result in teachers and students looking at our collection records a bit more closely, so we need to keep this mind as we digitize and do data entry. Our image lesson of the month is a good chance to talk more about this. This is a printing press. Neat eh? Imagine the interpretive and educational potential. Now, imagine that a class is looking at this image. Are you happy with how it presents your museum's hard work? By taking a few extra minutes and making a few minor tweaks this image would be fantastic. First, the backdrop ends up being distracting since it doesn't fill the frame. The dark and different coloured edges really distract the eye from focusing on the press itself.  So, the edges should be cropped out of the image or the backdrop positioned to fill the frame. Similarly, there are some pretty noticeable wrinkles in the backdrop, so pulling the fabric taut and making adjustments after checking the view in the camera would give you the opportunity to ensure a great image with the first take.

And unfortunately the same needs to be said about cataloguing and data entry. A quick scan of recently created records shows that new staff and volunteers aren't getting the training and supervision that they need, and so we're seeing some dirty data being added. Please remind new workers to use the help menu to access YouTube tutorials, the database manual, the Nomenclature website and other resources to make sure that the info going into your database is the best quality possible. Work through these tools with them and then check on the first few entries of new workers so make sure they're on the right track. 

Educational Partnerships
As many of you read on Facebook, this month we welcomed Cheryl Crocker to the ANSM team. She's finishing up her Honours BEd in Child and Youth Studies at MSVU and is helping us with #NovaMuseEd. Her placement is part-time but she has really hit the ground running by reviewing curriculum for more tie-ins and working on multiple learning activities. She is excited to chat with museums about their ideas and help you make these a reality. 

On Tuesday we held a little virtual chat to follow-up on Sandi's hub training sessions and were really pleased with the conversation that we had and the questions that people asked. One of the things we talked about at the recent IMAC meeting was how the Advisory Service and NovaMuse have matured. First our goal was to get into a standardized system, then to get the collections info online, and now we are at a point where we can really focus on how to use the collections info. The #NovaMuseEd initiative has been building from strength to strength every since we started it. We have a wonderful new partner in MSVU, teachers and schools are sending their thanks and getting excited about its launch, and everywhere we turn we are seeing educational potential. All signs point to this being the path forward. 

In other news, I'm also very pleased to share that we have just confirmed that we will be hosting an intern from Algonquin College's Applied Museum Studies Program from January-April 2021. It always seems like the coolest projects take place when we have interns around, and we love the fresh ideas, perspectives and skills that they bring to ANSM. We're already brainstorming about a work plan and looking forward to seeing what this winter internship will bring and accomplish. 

Keeping Fresh
Online learning continues at a slightly slower pace. This month I checked out the Canadian Council of Archives webinar on Young Canada Works, which looked at how organizations were adjusting their plans and proposed projects for the pandemic reality. I also participated in Evaluation Facilitation principles meet Blue Marble Evaluation principles: Professional Development to be World Savvy in a Virtual World, which had some good nuggets of info to apply to our Museum Evaluation Program. The breadth of online offerings is pretty impressive. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Introducing Ms. Crocker


Hello! My name is Cheryl, and I will be interning with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums this fall to fulfill the graduation requirements for Mount Saint Vincent University’s Bachelor of Child & Youth Study (Honours) program.

I live in Dartmouth with my husband and three sons.  We are an avid museum-going family and started “staycationing” in Nova Scotia way before COVID-19 turned it into a popular trend.  My summer job at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in 2001/2002 was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had - second only to my current job of owning and operating a before and after school and preschool program.

I am looking forward to working with you to find new and creative ways to share the rich cultural heritage that Nova Scotia’s museums have to offer.  I hope that my passion for education and storytelling will inspire some amazing collaborative projects during this internship.

Monday, August 31, 2020

August 2020 Update

It is great to hear how museums are continuing to serve their communities this summer. For those that are open, we are hearing that visitation is low but that relationships with the local community are being strengthened as people stick close to home. For those that are closed and working behind the scenes, collections management efforts and evaluation preparations are yielding really impressive results. I've said it before, but it's so cool to see how museums are thinking outside of the box right now, and each one is coming up with a creative and productive solution that works for them and their community. 

If you haven't yet applied for the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Heritage Organizations, there is still time. The deadline has been extended to September 11th. For those that have applied, we've heard that announcements are now trickling out, so keep your eye on your inbox. 

Museum Evaluation Program
We held our fourth Deep Dive this month, looking at the Facility section. It was a little bit shorter than the others, which was expected since so much of this section deals with the physical reality of the buildings during the site evaluation, but it was still great to talk about some of the big, overarching issues around facility management. If you missed the session, feel free to request the recording (or any other Deep Dive recordings). On September 10th at 130pm we'll be tackling my personal favourite, the Collections section. If you haven't registered for it yet and are interested in participating, click here.

CollectiveAccess Updates
967 new records and 3,954 new images were added to the databases. Great work! Don't forget to make those records and images accessible to the public using the access fields on the Basic and Media Representations tabs. Right now, 124,551 objects are inaccessible to the public. That's actually 1/3 of the records catalogued in our databases...a lot of info to be holding back. Let's try to fix that.

Here's how the numbers look at a regional level:
Southwest: 140,304 artifacts, 90,591 images
Central: 103,846 artifacts, 76,320 images
Northeast: 40,485 artifacts, 57,126 images
Cape Breton: 30,928 artifacts, 18,835 images

For our image of the month, we're looking at furniture. Furniture can be tricky to photograph for a few reasons - it's often hard to move, doesn't easily fit onto (or is too heavy to lift onto) a photography backdrop, and sometimes we're working in confined spaces making lighting and camera angles difficult to navigate. So while we know that sometimes the ideal images can be difficult to capture, let's focus on the goal for furniture photos. If the object is too heavy to move, let's remove everything we can that is nearby and make sure there are no distractions. If possible, use the big photo backdrop. If that isn't possible, consider plain sheeting that can be draped or hung to hide walls, moulding, windows, or other details that can distract the eye. In terms of an overall photo, you want to give the viewer an understanding of the 3-dimensional nature of the piece. In this case, looking straight on makes it hard to understand the sides and back of the chair. If the photo was taken looking down on the chair at an angle, and slightly from the side instead of the direct front, you would have a much better view and understanding of the chair. And don't forget the little scale in the bottom left corner.

Keep in mind that as we connect with more teachers and offer formal and casual educational resources, this means your records and images will be reviewed more closely. Teachers are looking for real, in depth records relating to our material culture, as well as formal resources. Let's make sure that we take the time to capture excellent images from a variety of angles, and proofread our documentation to showcase our museums at their best. 

As part of our "consolidation year" efforts to get ourselves a bit more organized, we've developed a long-term data cleaning plan for the Advisory Service. This will take us years to work through, but we're very pleased to say that Camilo got through step 1 (reconciling entities) for 13 museums. We're going to roll this into internship work plans and have it as a rainy day project, so we can keep picking away at it.

Advisory Service Training
It has been a very busy month! Thanks to everyone who joined Sandi for in-person and virtual training. It was great to see you and work together again this summer. We hosted two types of hub training, the first focused on digitizing watercolours, which we are looking forward to sharing on NovaMuse and The Watercolour World. The second focused on educational resource development, as we prepare to launch a new teacher resource section on NovaMuse. A big thank you to our host sites who made this all possible! We know the last few months have been a big adjustment and have come with new challenges but everyone's commitment to collections work really showed. Great work! Follow us on the NovaMuse Facebook page to see all of the photos from this year's training.

Watercolour images will be edited and uploaded this Fall, so keep a close eye on the What's New section on NovaMuse. Thinking about the educational resource work, the deeper we delve into it, the more it feels like a renewed purpose for NovaMuse. We just released a teacher survey to ask about wants and needs, and are getting a great response from across the province. If you haven't yet, please share our Facebook postTweet, and the link to the survey with teachers in your area. We're already hearing that teachers are excited and appreciative of any and all new resources that we can offer them. If you are in the process of creating a learning activity, feel free to reach out at any time for help, and don't forget to send your drafts to Sandi via Dropbox. If you weren't able to participate in any of the webinars but would like to work with us to develop some offerings for schools, we would love to have you join in. Reach out and we will help you get the ball rolling. 

Webinar Wednesdays have wrapped up, but we have recordings for all of the sessions. If you missed any, just let us know and we will send along the link so you can review the sessions at your leisure.

Educational Partnerships
On Friday we said thank you and goodbye to Camilo, who first joined us in June for his University of Toronto internship. During his exit interview we were musing over the various projects he tackled, and how everything really tied back to educational resource development even though that was the item in his work plan that had the least amount of focus...or so we thought! The various puzzles and colouring pages that he developed, and developed tip sheets for, are exactly what teachers are asking for now! Isn't it great when everything comes together so well at the end of a project? Huge thanks to Camilo for all that he accomplished over the summer, and best wishes as he heads back to school to learn even more about museum work.

As we mentioned in a separate message to Advisory Service members, we are also really excited to continue our partnership with MSVU and welcome a fall intern from their Child and Youth Studies program. Stay tuned for the announcement of her arrival, but consider this a heads up that we'll have someone ready and willing to help you develop new offerings for teachers, or rework current or old school programs for online access. 

Keeping Fresh
Webinars are decreasing in frequency now, but I managed to take in two that were quite helpful. The first was from the BCMA on succession planning, and the second was from the Cuseum on Supporting Schools and Educators as a Cultural Organization. Since ANSM is working on both of these things right now, they were a good fit to my work plan and gave some good nuggets of info. Have I mentioned we're really excited about how the new teacher resource section of NovaMuse is shaping up? 

And as a final reminder, don't forget to keep the museum fresh! We had multiple calls and emails this month from museums that discovered major and minor mould problems in their collections storage. If you ever find yourself in this situation, give us a call! We will help you develop a plan of action and put you in contact with the right people if the problem can't be handled in-house. Remember to keep air flowing, keep humidity levels below 60%, and include regular walkthroughs and spot checks of storage to make sure you catch any problems right away.  For other tips on prevention and recovery, check out CCI's technical bulletin.

So long from Camilo

I was originally slated to intern for ANSM for an eight-week period from June to July. After this time elapsed, I continued working with ANSM for an additional four weeks. The past three months have flown by. Despite working remotely from Toronto, I felt like I have been integrated into the ANSM team. Karin has been particularly supportive, providing guidance on a variety of topics and projects. 

During my three months at ANSM, I was involved in numerous projects. I worked with a spinning-wheel subject matter expert to enrich twenty-four spinning wheel records from sixteen different museums on NovaMuse. I used the knowledge gained from this project to develop educational activities related to spinning wheels. These activities are intended for elementary and middle school students and focus on weaving and creating yarn. I also used CollectiveAccess to research and select records that cover diverse topics and can be transcribed on NovaMuse. I oversaw the creation of colouring pages, jigsaw puzzles, word searches, and crosswords based on records and images from museum collections. I also created tip sheets to accompany these resources, which are meant to help museums develop their own resources. My most recent projects involved cleaning entity records from different museum databases, testing educational activities, and creating new galleries on NovaMuse. I hope that these projects will benefit workers in the heritage field and the larger public. 

When I began the internship, my primary concern was learning more about collections management. This internship has provided me with a comprehensive overview of collections management as well as a deeper understanding of educational museum work. The insights I have gained from this internship experience will be invaluable for my future career in the heritage sphere. I would like to thank everyone at ANSM as well as the Nova Scotia museums staff that I have had the pleasure of interacting with daily for making my internship such a positive experience. I will keep in contact and hope that our paths will cross again soon!

All the best, 

Camilo Mejia

Friday, July 31, 2020

July 2020 Update

Congratulations to the museums which have opened and are working incredibly hard to give visitors a safe and enjoyable experience. And congratulations to those that decided to keep their doors closed and work on some behind the scenes projects. We know that the decision was not an easy one and are very proud of how every board and organization identified what was right for them. 

We have continued to update the COVID-19 related resources on our website. If you haven't yet, don't forget to apply for funding assistance to help offset this year's losses. Federal funding is first come, first served, and has been expanded to include museums with annual budgets as low as $2000. 
As another reminder, ANSM staff are still mostly working from home. If you call the office, please expect to leave a message and experience a delay in response time. Once we have a set schedule for office availability we will let you know. 

Museum Evaluation Program
We've now had 3 Deep Dive webinars, looking at the Governance, Community and Management sections, and our next one on the Facility section is scheduled for August 13th at 130pm. If you want to register, click here. If you missed any of the earlier sessions, let me know and I will send you the recording.

Since so many museums are now opening for the season and people have other things on the go during the summer, I haven't been receiving as many questions about evaluation. So the Q&A emails have slowed in frequency, but will continue to be circulated when I receive 5 questions or have other news to share. Almost half of the museums being evaluated have submitted information for Documentation Review. Kudos to all of them for getting ahead of the game. For anyone who is slated to be evaluated next year (originally planned for this year) and hasn't started uploading yet, feel free to do so. It's great to see things come in gradually and without the pressure of deadlines.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Last month I mentioned the importance of continuous collections work in relation to expanding resource offerings. Well, it was a very productive month in this regard. 1,565 new records and 6,218 new images were added to the databases. That's pretty impressive. Don't forget to make those records and images accessible to the public using the access fields on the Basic and Media Representations tabs. 
Here's how the numbers look at a regional level:
Southwest: 140,054 artifacts, 90,009 images
Central: 103,702 artifacts, 74,475 images
Northeast: 39,850 artifacts, 55,995 images
Cape Breton: 30,990 artifacts, 18,439 images

For your image lesson of the month, cue music! Because we're going to the chapel and we're gonna get married... Let's take a look at this wedding dress. But what we really need to talk about is the backdrop. Remember to use a contrasting backdrop for your photography. Since this is a white dress, it should be photographed against a dark, either navy blue or black, backdrop. This will really make the dress pop, and it will be much easier to see details. Another lesson we can take from this image is to try and remove as many wrinkles from the backdrop as possible. They are really distracting to the eye, and again can almost obscure details of the object. Check out the bottom of the skirt compared to the top to see what I mean. What's great about this image is that the dress is on a mannequin and the skirt has been adjusted so that we can easily imagine how this dress looked on the wedding day. 

Advisory Service Training
Now that we know how well everyone is doing with their database and digitization efforts, let's talk about this year's training initiatives. We've been hearing for years and years that museums want help with school programming. The buses cost too much, insurance is an issue, teachers will only partner if the museum provides curriculum-based learning, etc etc. We've heard many stories. So, this year we're responding, thanks to some federal funding. And it is the perfect time to be working on this because of new realities that teachers will be facing this Fall. 

As we've mentioned previously, we're giving Advisory Service sites two options this year - developing collections and curriculum-based resources, and digitizing artworks. Sandi delivered the first educational resource webinar yesterday, and the next one will be August 5th. We are committed to working one-on-one with you to develop your ideas using a template. Whether this is totally new or something you've been doing for years, I promise that these sessions will be helpful. Attendees are doing a mix of repurposing existing school programs and looking for new ideas, so the brainstorming power alone is pretty impressive. And did I mention we have cheat sheet curriculum documents with oodles of ideas in them to help you out? If you have questions or haven't signed up yet, contact Sandi at her new address: services[at]

And what about those artworks? Teachers are asking for more access to images of Made in NS art, so this is another way to help out our educators. The special digitization equipment has just arrived from Toronto, and I've been having fun testing it out before Sandi hits the road for those in-person sessions. Our first choice is to digitize watercolours, but feel free to bring along other artworks if you don't have any watercolours. Be in touch for advice on packing and transportation if the hub training is not at your museum. 

Educational Partnerships
Our partnerships with MSVU and U of T continued this month, and wow the output was phenomenal. Erika not only compiled our cheat sheets on curriculum tie-ins for grades Primary - 12, but she included oodles of ideas for activities, and developed our first 6 learning activities. She finished her placement with us on July 21st, but the impact of her work will be felt for years to come. Camilo finished his internship with us on July 24th, but has decided to continue on as a volunteer for the rest of the summer. Talk about dedication! We challenged Camilo to make NovaMuse more active and engaging for visitors, and he's really risen to this challenge. He developed colouring pages using images from collections, and created a tip sheet so you can do it too. He created online jigsaw puzzles using images from collections, and here's your tip sheet so you can do it too. Word puzzles are currently underway, so stay tuned for another tip sheet. It's funny, because when we issued this challenge to him we weren't thinking about it relating to the new teacher section of NovaMuse, but now that we're into the work, everything is so clearly connected! These fun resources can stand on their own or make great add-ons to the more formal learning activities. 

We've also added some data cleaning work to Camilo's August work plan, to look at blank date fields, duplicated entities, and also to check on access settings since so many records and images are set to not be accessible. He will be reaching out to museums with little reports on accessibility, so stay tuned. We also recognize that this is a massive undertaking, so won't pretend that he will get through all 55 museums before the end of the summer. We will continue with this data cleaning and access review as time and resources allow. 

Keeping Fresh
I was able to schedule in a number of webinars this month, and am enjoying some varied learning as I continue to work from home. This month I participated in Information Systems: Protecting the Past, Securing our Future (Heritage Trust), Generating Revenue through Digital Content & Virtual Experiences (Cuseum), Museums After the Pandemic (ICCROM and UNESCO), and Re-opening Heritage Sites and Historic Places: Heritage Leaders Share Challenges and Solutions (Heritage Trust). I hope you were able to find some opportunities this month to stay fresh too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Farewell from Erika Bird

For those who read my introduction post nearly 8 weeks ago, you will notice that I was scheduled for a 4-week internship with ANSM through the MSVU Child & Youth Studies program. That great experience turned into an 8-week internship that has flown by. The Covid19 pandemic caused this to be a virtual placement but I do not feel I missed out on anything (except maybe staff meeting cakes) thanks to the welcoming and interactive nature of ANSM staff via Google Zoom.

During my time at ANSM, I participated in discussions on website design for the Teacher's Resource section of NovaMuse and the Learning Activity draft template design. I developed a collection of five Acadian Learning Activity resources based on NovaMuse artifacts, which tie directly into NS Curriculum learning outcomes. I have completed three Curriculum tie-in documents (P-6, 7-9, 10-12) that will serve as reference tools for museum members who wish to tie their activities into academic learning outcomes to connect with teachers, parents and children in the school community. I also created a "How-to" guide on lesson plan development that can be used in museum member training.

Overall, I have learned a great deal about the functions of Google software and most importantly how eager the museum community is to support and collaborate with educators, parents and teachers. I hope that my contributions to ANSM’s educational resource development projects will benefit the learning community and I plan on referring to once I am teaching again. The networking I have done during my time at ANSM will benefit my future teachings and I hope to be able to collaborate with ANSM in the future on other projects.

Special thanks to Karin and Sandi for their guidance and support during this internship. Next, I must
focus on my own learning as a mother, while waiting impatiently to welcome baby number two any
day now.
All the best, 


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June 2020 Update

What a difference a month makes. We're seeing daily announcements about museums reopening. With the Atlantic Bubble, we will be able to welcome nearby family and friends into our museums, even if the experiences we offer will be a bit different from usual. Over the course of the month we released some more information and resources, including reopening guidelines and information about the federal emergency support program for museums (it's first come, first served so don't miss out!). Check out our website.

Museum Evaluation Program
The MEP work continues from isolation. We held our second Deep Dive this month, looking at the Community section, and our third Deep Dive will take place on July 16th at 130pm and will investigate the Management section of evaluation. For those that had registered for this session already, please take note of the new date! Sorry for any inconvenience but something came up and we had to move it ahead by a week. The Management section is usually one of the most difficult sections of the evaluation for museums, so we hope that we can help to make some improvements in this statistic. You can register for this or any other Deep Dive on our website.
Q&A emails continue to go out when I have a stockpile of five questions to answer, and museums continue to upload as various evaluation requirements are completed. This is all great, and while it may feel busy right now, I know we'll be happy next year when the deadlines arrive and we aren't feeling the same rush or pressure.

Advisory Service Update
In exciting news, we have received MAP funding to offer hub training this year! We are bringing in equipment to digitize watercolours, as well as, enhance educational offerings on NovaMuse with your help. We will offer two hub training options:

1) Digitizing Watercolours (in-person) - We will digitize watercolours found on NovaMuse and contribute to The Watercolour Word with your help. The Watercolour World is a free online database of pre-1900 documentary watercolours from public and private collections around the world. It's an opportunity to explore the world before photography. You will be invited to bring examples of watercolours from your site to digitize and share on both platforms.

2) Educational Resource Development (mostly virtual) - In an effort to enhance educational offerings on NovaMuse, participants will help us create templates for activities/resources to assist students and teachers. We are currently working with a Teachers Advisory Group (TAG) to discuss classroom needs and the development of the teachers resource section on NovaMuse. We look forward to building on this work and offering key resources to teachers.

Sandi is currently in the planning stages and confirming hub training locations. Registration will open shortly! Please check your email on a regular basis for updates.

CollectiveAccess Updates
This month we added 2,028 new records and 5,095 new images to the databases. Good work! It's great to see everyone keeping busy behind the scenes. Your hard work doesn't go unnoticed! That brings the total to 313,031 artifacts and 232,700 images overall. Unfortunately about half of these images are not accessible to the public on NovaMuse. Right now is a great time to check if you've chosen 'accessible to the public' for images under the Media tab in CollectiveAccess. Sometimes this step is overlooked and the public misses out on some fantastic images you've been capturing and meaning to share with your online audience.

Here are the regional stats:
Southwest -  138,788 artifacts, 88,492 images
Central -  103,598 artifacts, 71,186 images
Northeast - 39,383 artifacts, 55,484 images
Cape Breton - 31,262 artifacts, 17,538 images

Recently, we've had a few questions about access, as in what should be made accessible, how does accessibility impact the Transcription feature, etc. So here's your refresher. The access field in your database links directly to NovaMuse. It has nothing to do with physical access in the museum, whether something is in storage vs. on exhibit, etc. Even though you have 3 options for accessibility, we've set them up to only function in one of two ways - to either show the associated record on NovaMuse (accessible to the public) or to not show the record on NovaMuse (restricted access and/or not accessible to the public). As your basic rule of thumb, if something is in the museum's collection (ie owned by the museum), it should be made accessible to the public. From this starting point, you may decide that you have several items that cannot be shown online for some reason, such as crumbling newspapers that will likely need to be deaccessioned in the near future. But these decisions should be the exception rather than the rule. Looking at our database statistics, we're actually holding back over 100,000 records and even more images from public view. That's a lot of exceptions. So let's see if we can shift these numbers over the coming months and open up our museum collections even more.

And now let's have an image lesson again this month. As we open up our collections even more, it's so important to have high quality images. Last month we looked at the need to use mannequins when photographing clothing. This month we are going to look at another common issue, using the camera when you should be using the scanner. Yes we love the scale and we're glad you do too. But remember you do have the measurements field in the database. So when you are digitizing photographs, postcards, books, and other 2-dimensional items, please use your flatbed scanner. The images will be so much better, and you will look so much more professional.

Webinar Wednesdays continue! The next is on July 8th - Let’s Talk Social Media: Sharing NovaMuse. Why not check out our remaining sessions? Click here to learn more.

Educational Partnerships
spinning wheel SME impact!
By now you've 'met' our summer interns. As a reminder, we are working with the Mount Saint Vincent University Education Program, and hosted 2 interns this month, and 1 intern from the Masters of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto. Jixin completed her placement with us on Friday, but Camilo and Erika will be continuing on through July. And wow, they've been busy. Camilo worked with a spinning wheel expert to review and enrich spinning wheels in 16 museums' collections! We know this work is far from over, because there are still have many spinning wheels out there that need to be digitized, but some excellent progress has been made. He has also been working on developing some transcription challenges, and has just released the first few. The information he has been uncovering in collections is pretty significant, and to be honest, some will take time to process.

Erika and Jixin got a jump on our MAP grant deliverables. Key curriculum outcomes have been identified for grades P-6, with middle school outcomes currently under review. They also started building educational resource templates. We already have 8 resources in draft form and another 22 ideas percolating - all from artifacts in your collections. We've sent a couple messages through about permission to use your collections in this work. We want to build some tools and resources that you can promote as your own and feel empowered to reach out to your local schools. To be honest, a lot of museums haven't been promoting NovaMuse as a service you deliver. We want to change that. So if you haven't responded to Camilo's message about permissions, please be in touch. We'd love to talk to you about this.

And now I'd like to take a minute to remind about data integrity. As we launch into this new educational initiative - helping schools and museums connect and use collections information in the classroom - we are reminded of the need for good data. It is of paramount importance that we go the extra mile and pay extra close attention to our work. Images need to be very high quality; no more quick, rushed snapshots. Students, volunteers and staff need to be properly trained and monitored. Don't assume someone knows about data entry standards or will proofread their work. We need to take our time and make sure that we've got the best images and data possible in order to make our collections as versatile as they can be. If the scope and scale of this work feels overwhelming to you, remember that you are not alone and there are many other museums eating elephants one bite at a time. We are more than happy to work with you to develop a customized game plan, but here's a basic recipe for success:
1. make an institutional pact to embrace the database as your institutional memory.
2. enter all your paper documents into the database (gift agreements, catalogue forms, donor questionnaires, etc.)
3. conduct a slow inventory to fill in the holes (room by room, shelf by shelf, box by box, compare the database record with the actual object. This is why we love an online database - take the laptop, tablet or phone along for the inventory ride and update the info as you go. Add descriptions, measurements, condition remarks, marks/labels, storage location or other missing info. When you find something that hasn't been digitized yet, photograph or scan it and add the images to the system right away.)
4. identify additional work and make a plan for it (this could be researching an individual, subject or event, seeking help from a SME, or developing a new program around a cool object or story, to name a few)

This recipe is not fast. But it is methodical. It will set you up with a solid foundation, on which you can build some really amazing work.

Call for ANSM Award Nominations
Each year, ANSM presents the Award for Excellence in Museum Practices Individual Contribution to a museum employee or volunteer who has gone above and beyond to make a significant contribution to the museum field. Recipients of this award have made remarkable efforts to increase knowledge about Nova Scotia’s history through exemplary museum practices. Would you like to nominate someone? Click here to learn more.

Keeping Fresh
Now that Allie is back at daycare, I'm very slowly trying to catch up on some of the webinars that have been delivered over the past few months. And as I'm sure you've experienced, these are hit or miss. Some are great and inspiring and others fall a bit flat. But one that I watched this month made a really great point about emerging from isolation and engaging with a world that is calling for very serious change and reconciliation of some very big, long standing issues. Now is more important than ever to embrace learning and have conversations, not from positions of power, but as members of our communities.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Introducing Erika Bird

Hi. My name is Erika and I will be completing an internship with ANSM over the next four weeks as a requirement of the Child and Youth Studies Program at MSVU.

I live in rural Nova Scotia with my toddler daughter and am due with my second child in July. I am a passionate gardener and am very proud of my francophone/Acadian language and culture, which I am passing down to my children.

Along with parenting, I hope my past work experiences as an Early Childhood Educator and as Executive Director of l’Acadie de Chezzetcook Association and Historic Site will allow me to efficiently complete projects that will benefit the NS museum community and children and teachers who engage within it.

My career goal is to complete a Bachelor of Education to teach in our local Acadian school. I look forward to networking with ANSM staff members to build strong community partnerships that will benefit my future teachings in the Child and Youth field.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Introducing Mr. Mejia

Hello! My name is Camilo, and I will be interning with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums (ANSM) for the next eight weeks. Interning at a cultural heritage institution is a requirement of the Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto (U of T).

I am from Toronto, graduating from the U of T in 2017 with a B.A. (Hon.) in History and Anthropology. After graduating, I spent two years  contemplating and exploring what I wanted to do in the future. This time led to my discovery of the Museum Studies program at the U of T. I recently completed my first year of the Museum Studies program, taking an interest in Collection Management. I have also been volunteering regularly at the Royal Ontario Museum in their Discovery Gallery. I believe that these experiences will inform my work with ANSM during the next eight weeks.

I am excited to start interning with ANSM! Currently, I have a general understanding of Nova Scotian history. I look forward to delving into the rich heritage of Nova Scotia through this internship with ANSM, as well as further developing my skills as an emerging museum professional.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

May 2020 Update

We have another month of isolation under our belts, and lots more experience in creative problem solving and thinking outside the box. We've seen a number of museums make decisions about opening or remaining closed for the season. We are receiving questions about this on a daily basis. I know museums are eager for information, and we are working on this. Conversations are happening, and there will be news soon. In the meantime, feel free to check out the various resources being compiled by the CMA & the COVID-19 related resources that we have been made aware of on our website.

As a reminder, last month we developed a guide on supporting seasonal staff during COVID-19 with our friends at some other museum associations. And great news! Our friends in New Brunswick took on the translation of this resource, so it will soon be available in French as well. To complement the staffing guide, we wrote another one on social media during COVID-19. We are continuing our weekly chats with our colleagues, and the regular sharing of information and resources is really refreshing.

Our COVID-19 impact and response survey is now open! We are seeking to collect up-to-date information on the impacts of COVID-19 to Nova Scotia’s museums and we are asking for your help in gathering this information. We also want you to share the creative and inspiring ways that you have responded to the crisis - how you've helped your community, how you've provided services and resources online, how you've adjusting staffing and fundraising, etc etc. It should only take you a few minutes. Click here to fill out the survey. June 8th at 11:59pm is the deadline to contribute your information. Results will be anonymous but used for advocacy and learning purposes.

Museum Evaluation Program
We held the first Deep Dive this month, looking at Governance issues. It was very well attended and we are hoping to see even more people for the next one on June 11th. We'll be talking about community engagement and evaluation. Deep Dives are taking place every 2nd Thursday of the month, at 130pm, and are free for everyone. If you'd like to register for this session, or any of the others, click here.

Even with the new evaluation timeline, 13 museums have been actively uploading files for review, and regular questions are being submitted as museums prepare for evaluation. Documentation Review dispatches were circulated yesterday.

We also continue to look ahead to future years, and had another meeting with NSM staff to plan for 2022 evaluations. My toddler thought this was great fun and enjoyed sharing her agreement and input in our Zoom chat. The joys of working from home :)

We were very excited to announce the first Accredited Museums in Nova Scotia this month, in conjunction with International Museums Day. Congratulations to the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum, Avon River Heritage Museum, DesBrisay Museum, and Northumberland Fisheries Museum for receiving this designation! It felt great to share some good news with the world, and we look forward to making Accreditation announcements on an annual basis to celebrate the amazing heritage work being done around the province.

CollectiveAccess Updates
This month we added 622 new records and 1,986 new images were added to the databases. Good work everyone! That brings the total to 311,003 artifacts and 227,605 images overall. Don't forget to make these records and images accessible to the public, and to share NovaMuse links and updates on your work via your social media channels!

Here are the regional stats:
Southwest -  138,058 artifacts, 87,298 images
Central -  103,481 artifacts, 68,931 images
Northeast - 38,247 artifacts, 54,058 images
Cape Breton - 31,217 artifacts, 17,318 images

With summer staff starting, we thought it would be a good time to return to some image lessons every month. This month we are looking at clothing. Yes we've looked at it in the past, but we're still seeing the same issues over and over again. This adorable little nightgown really loses its cuteness when it is photographed like a 2-dimensional item. Rather than laying it flat, it should have been put on a child-sized mannequin to demonstrate how it would be worn, how the fabric would flow and fall over the body. The wrinkles from prolonged folded storage definitely don't help either. While you don't want to iron out your textile collection, dressing a mannequin and gently positioning the garment can help to lessen the wrinkle distraction. The scale should always be put in the lower left corner. This is a consistency thing and moving it from place to place in your different photographs can make the museum look less professional.

Sandi has taken over Webinar Wednesdays and is delivering a summer-long series on
CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse features, with a couple other subjects added from your requests. The next session (June 3rd) will focus on NovaMuse Transcribe. Looking to share your records for transcription using this new feature? Don't miss out on this session! Sandi will guide you through the process to set up records in CollectiveAccess and demonstrate how to use the tool on NovaMuse. These are free for Advisory Service members, and for others we have set up registration by donation. Any donations received will be put towards future training initiatives.

Our friends at CHIN were also busy this month processing all the updated records that we submitted in April. They added and/or refreshed 3,083 records from across the province, another big boost for Nova Scotian content on Artefacts Canada. Our next refresh will take place in October.

Educational Partnerships
Our annual Fleming College partnership project finally wrapped up this month, and I circulated the students' reports to the 11 participant museums. We say this every year, but the students were able to dig up some great new info and make some great edits and additions to collections documentation.

In other news, we will be welcoming three interns on Monday who will be working with us remotely. That's right, we're doubling our workforce. The interns will be tackling a variety of tasks for us, all relating to developing collections-based resources for educators and the public. So stay tuned for introductions, and if you're part of the Advisory Service, watch your inbox! You'll be hearing from us very soon.

We will also be working with a Teachers Advisory Group (TAG) in the upcoming months to review Nova Scotia curriculum tie-ins and resource development opportunities for NovaMuse. Our first discussion is scheduled to take place early next month. We look forward to this collaboration and sharing ideas with educators from across the province! We are excited to receive their input throughout this process. Stay tuned for updates.

Call for ANSM Award Nominations
Each year, ANSM presents the Award for Excellence in Museum Practices Individual Contribution to a museum employee or volunteer who has gone above and beyond to make a significant contribution to the museum field. Recipients of this award have made remarkable efforts to increase knowledge about Nova Scotia’s history through exemplary museum practices. Would you like to nominate someone? Click here to learn more.

Keeping Fresh
Sandi's participated in loads of great webinars this month, and hopefully you've found some helpful ones too. A tip that she learned for an easy, yet effective way to engage with visitors in-person while wearing a mask: add a photo of the staff and/or volunteer smiling on their name tag. I managed to sneak in one from Statistics Canada on their Canadian Statistical Geospacial Explorer. It's a pretty neat tool that lets you look at StatsCan data geographically. I was especially interested in their web design and filtering setup.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 2020 Update

Before anything else is said, I want to share a virtual hug with our entire, loving, supportive, amazing province. As others have said, we won't let what happened this month redefine us. To those at the Colchester Historeum who had direct ties to victims and their families, our hearts go out to you especially.

Life continues under isolation, and by now it feels like we've settled into our new routine. Our Monday Community Connection chats continue every Monday at 4pm. As we've heard during these and other chats, there are a lot of questions about whether or not to open this summer, hiring summer students, and what can be done remotely. Our counterparts at other provincial/territorial museums associations are hearing the same things, and so we decided to write up a little guide on supporting seasonal staff during COVID-19. As we've said numerous times, these strange times are an opportunity for growth and development if we choose to see them this way, so hopefully this guide will help museums navigate the current reality. You can download it here. We are also sharing a list of related resources on the ANSM website and will continue to update this section.

Next Wednesday is the final webinar in our Museum Fundamentals series, after which Sandi will be taking over Wednesday Webinars to deliver her own extensive series on CollectiveAccess and NovaMuse subjects, and more. We welcome Sandi back to ANSM in her new role as Member Services Coordinator. She is excited to connect with you all again. Webinar registration is free for Advisory Service, as a benefit for participating in that program. This is an opportunity for you to customize your training. Invite staff, volunteers, and members of your board to participate. These sessions are also open to others on a donation basis (minimum $5), with donations supporting future training initiatives. Registration is scheduled to open May 1st. Click here to view the schedule and registration information.

Virtual meetings are the name of the game right now, and we had lots. IMAC and the MEPWG met this month, we are holding weekly staff meetings, and having regular meetings with other provincial/territorial museum associations as well. After all the concerns about Zoom, we investigated our options and reviewed Zoom's 90-day plan to address security issues. To make a long story short, we're satisfied with their plan, are taking advantage of the new security features, and are feeling good about continuing to use Zoom. If anyone has questions about this, feel free to be in touch.

Museum Evaluation Program
As most people now know, the board decided to postpone this year's evaluations until next year. Since this decision was made we've hosted two online sessions on how we're moving forward, and how to upload to the ftp site. While not every museum participated, we had pretty good representation from across the province. Q&A emails continue to be circulated every two weeks, so keep those questions coming. The newly updated evaluation timeline can be downloaded here.

For those museums that participate in the MEP but were not slated to be evaluated this year, this postponement means you can get some extra support too! As we've mentioned previously, the evaluation questions will remain the same for each evaluation cycle. That means that those being evaluated from 2021-2024 will be dealing with the same questions and forms that we have now (we will change the year watermark though). We'll be hosting monthly Deep Dive webinars that will look at the sections and requirements of evaluation. Part live-Q&A session and part advice session, this is a chance to get ahead of the game and spread out your preparation efforts. The first Deep Dive will be on May 14th and will look at the Governance section. You can check out the updated evaluation timeline to see the full schedule. To register for any/all of these sessions, click here.

CollectiveAccess Updates
An article recently shared that 40% of museums in the UK did not have remote access to collections records or documentation. Wow! When I read this, I felt so proud of Nova Scotia because we are miles ahead of this statistic. Advisory Service members have been proving on a daily basis that collections work can easily continue from isolation. We had another month of great results. 1,045 new records and 1,764 new images were added to the databases. Great job everyone! That brings the total to 310,381 artifacts and 225,619 images overall. Don't forget to make these records and images accessible to the public, and to share NovaMuse links and updates on your work via your social media channels. People are looking for this right now.

Here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 137,972 artifacts, 86,814 images
Central - 103,277 artifacts, 67,831 images
Northeast - 37,915 artifacts, 53,656 images
Cape Breton - 31,217 artifacts, 17,318 images

Don't forget about the Transcribe feature! Museums and archives around the world have embarked on public transcription projects during COVID-19, and so can Advisory Service members. As a reminder, here's the video that teaches you how to set your records to be transcribable. And here's the video that shows you how to transcribe records on NovaMuse. We'd love to see museums do this, and we'd love to be tagged on social media so we can see your efforts. If you have any questions about transcription, contact Sandi.

And finally, to help share Nova Scotian content with the rest of the country, we carried out our biannual refresh of records with Artefacts Canada this month. CHIN staff are working remotely so the processing time will be much longer than usual, but they've already updated/added 1,206 records, so that's pretty great in our books. If you haven't given us permission to do this regular refresh for you, please be in touch with Sandi.

SME Partnerships
Work with our spinning wheel expert continues. Now is a great time to connect with experts in your area! Much of this partnership can be done from afar. Why not set up an online meeting to chat about records in your collection? It's not only a great way for the museums to stay connected, it's more important that ever to offer others a creative outlet and, most importantly, an opportunity to chat. Explore our Working with Subject Matter Experts Tip Sheet for inspiration.

Educational Partnerships
Our annual Fleming project is wrapping up. Deb is reviewing the final reports now and will be sending them along to me so I can review and send to the participating museums this year. Thanks again to the museums who let the students work on their records. This real-world project is a real gift to them, letting them see the reality of museum documentation and researching to make improvements. Plans are already afoot for next year's project, so keep up the digitization work! The students can't work on records if the items don't have images attached.
We're also in talks with a couple universities as they try to find innovative solutions to internships and practicums. So keep your fingers crossed that the stars align and we're able to figure out a mutually beneficial solution. And hooray for building relationships and forming new partnerships!

Call for ANSM Award Nominations
Each year, ANSM presents the Award for Excellence in Museum Practices Individual Contribution to a museum employee or volunteer who has gone above and beyond to make a significant contribution to the museum field. Recipients of this award have made remarkable efforts to increase knowledge about Nova Scotia’s history through exemplary museum practices. Would you like to nominate someone? Click here to learn more.

Keeping Fresh
Wow. There are A LOT of online learning opportunities right now. To be honest I'm a bit frustrated by this because I can't participate in as many as I would like. I took part in one on Ethics during COVID which mostly focused on employer/employee relations, but all of the others this month conflicted with my toddler's schedule or virtual meetings. I am hoping that at some point in the future I can backtrack and watch/listen to some recordings, and you know what? That's okay. There's no need to feel overwhelmed or like we have to participate in every single webinar that sounds interesting or relevant. So that's my tip this month for keeping fresh. You don't have to do it all. Flag some recordings for the future and let yourself work through them at a pace that works for you. If you're wondering who is delivering webinars right now, in addition to us, there is the BCMA, OMA, AASLHCuseum, Tamarack Institute, and many more. Social media is a great place to watch for these.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 2020 Update

What a crazy month. If you had told me on the 1st that within two weeks we'd be closing down our office and working from home, and that schools and daycares and almost everything else would be closing down too, I would have told you to stop being so alarmist. But here we are. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with messages of solidarity and concern. Anita has been working from home on a wide variety of tasks, Sandi has just started back with us in her new role as Member Services Coordinator, and Jen is in the process of moving on to her new role as the Curator of the Kings County Museum. With a toddler at home, I am putting in as much time as I can to keep things moving along. My husband is working a rotating schedule and Allie is being a real trooper in our new temporary reality, but I won't lie and say it's easy.

Speaking of online, we are shifting what we can to online. We also recognize the need for human connection in a time of self-isolation. If you are feeling lonely, need to talk, and/or want to compare notes on how your museum is changing gears in this weird current reality, please join us for our Monday Community Connection chats.

We had to cancel our Museums 101 course that was scheduled for April, and are instead testing out another new approach. I've pulled excerpts from the course content and shifted them into 7 webinars, each 45 minutes in length. We are calling it Museum Fundamentals. Rather than a set registration fee, we are asking that you simply "pay what you can". These are taking place Wednesdays at 11am, and as with Museums 101, these are a great way to introduce board members, volunteers and staff to the museum field. Please pass on this opportunity to everyone at your museum. The next webinar is looking at definition and mission statements. If your mission statement includes the words "to collect, exhibit, interpret, research and exhibit", you'll definitely want to tune in. I'll be asking some tough questions, so come prepared to ponder!
Read more and register online.

Museum Evaluation Program
We've had a few questions about this year's evaluation schedule. Today our board is holding a special meeting to discuss options, and we will be in touch as soon as a decision has been made. We know that this is a stressful time for everyone, and each museum is dealing with it differently. Some are making amazing progress on their evaluation prep work and are actively uploading. Others are finding it difficult to shift in-person meetings to online or phone meetings.
With so many stakeholders involved, from funders to museum boards and staff, not to mention the public, we are looking at every angle, and trying to anticipate all the impacts. No matter what the board decides, we know that we will all have to work together on a solution.

CollectiveAccess Updates
An impressive amount of work has been done this month. 1,053 new records and 2,273 new images were added to the databases. Great job everyone! That brings the total to 309,336 artifacts and 223,855 images overall. In a time when people can't visit the museum in person, there is an increased interest in seeing collections online. Your hard work is paying off! People are learning, sharing and being inspired by what you've shared. Working through your backlog and enriching database records is a great way to engage with your community online. Let everyone know about your latest updates!

Here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 137,786 artifacts, 85,977 images
Central - 103,221 artifacts, 66,970 images
Northeast - 37,112 artifacts, 53,590 images
Cape Breton - 31,217 artifacts, 17,318 images

Another great way for you to engage with your community right now is by using the new NovaMuse Transcribe feature. I circulated an email announcement which included links to Sandi's YouTube tutorials. In case any museums missed it, here's the video that teaches how to set your records to be transcribable. For the public, here's the video that shows you how to transcribe museum records. Let's work together to issue a public transcription challenge. As above, broadcast your efforts!

SME Partnerships
The timing might seem odd, but we've just partnered with a new SME to learn more about spinning wheels in museum collections. We often joke about how many wheels are in collections and that we don't want or need anymore. Well, David might disagree with that latter statement. He is already seeing some exciting and rare wheels, and wants to see more. Put simply, he can't tell you more about your spinning wheels if you haven't photographed them yet. So, if you are at home working on plans for the summer/fall, be sure to add digitization of spinning wheels to your list. For those of you that already have some spinning wheel photos in your database, we will be in touch.

Remember when Sandi visited museums with our SMEs and filmed some of the sessions? These recordings are now featured on NovaMuse. Check out the four galleries to explore the records examined by Terry, Joleen, and Gary. Terry examined agricultural tools, Joleen examined baskets, and Gary examined military insignia.

We also did a few virtual sessions with Eric who examined ships portraits. As you flip through the records in these galleries, click the blue "view record" button to see the recordings. The recordings will display as a thumbnail with the associated images of the artifact (as seen above). Please note that not all records have recordings in the galleries. Click here to listen to Eric's description of reef points! Are you more of a basket enthusiast? Joleen compared two baskets, one made of poplar and the other made of ash. Ox yokes more your cup of tea? Check out this description by Terry. Interested in learning more about items used in the First and Second World War? Why not start with Gary's discussion on battle dress? These are only a few of the recordings featured in these galleries. The best part is you can explore these records from home and learn from experts in the field. Looking for homeschooling materials? This is a great place to start!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Book Review - 101 Museum Programs Under $100: Proven Programs that Work on a Shoestring Budget

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For those of you that follow us on Facebook, you'll know we enjoyed a bit of book buying over the past year or so thanks to some amazing sales. And you might even recognize this title since we profiled it on Facebook as well. It hasn't been in our reference library as long as most of the other books, but it has been a popular one to borrow. 

If you're like me, collections is what attracted you to museum work. So coming up with ideas for programs, let alone developing and implementing and evaluating programs, can feel a bit daunting. Laura Hunley's book, published in 2018 by Rowman & Littlefield, aims to help. She notes in the preface that budget cutbacks at her museum meant that many programs had to be put on hold. She "began looking for other innovative and inexpensive museum programs to adapt, and the deeper [she] looked, the more [she] realized a few things: (1) Museum professionals are creative, resourceful, and innovative. We do so much with so little; and (2) [She] couldn't be the only one looking for these types of programs. Thus, 101 Museum Programs Under $100 was born." How great is that? What a perfect example of the sharing nature of our profession. 

The result of her efforts, aka this book, is essentially a catalogue of options. This is a very quick and easy read. There are only six chapters - programming for today, for children and families, for teens and young adults, for adults, and for multigenerational audiences. The final chapter talked about adapting, expanding and implementing programs. As appendices, Hunley offers up program planning checklists and worksheets, as well as the contact information for all the museums that contributed program examples. If you liked what you read but want to learn more, you can easily reach out. 

If you want to develop a new program, tweak an existing one, or are just interested in seeing what else is going on in museums, this is a good place to start. The examples are American but are very transferrable. Each example is shared as a profile, outlining target audience, attendance, overview, budget, interpretive components, staff time requirements, audience time requirements, scalability, and an analysis. In the analysis, Hunley often offers suggestions on how to adjust the program to work in different sized spaces or to accommodate smaller or larger audiences. 

This is the sort of book that will speak to different people in different ways. Using Hunley's terminology, it is very scalable. As I read, I encountered programs that I've helped to develop and deliver, ones I've participated in, ones I've heard about, and ones that I would love to see in our museums. Some are pretty traditional in nature and have been delivered for decades, and others really embrace the ideals of community service and engagement and would likely make some traditionalists very uncomfortable. 

I often share quotable quotes from the books I read. This time around, I'd like to share the programs that jumped out at me. These are not in order of preference, but simply in the order they appear in the book.

1. Summer STEAM: Signal Flags and Semaphore - kids learn some signals and create their own flag messages. Pretty applicable to our maritime province.
2. Teddy Bear Tea - a formal tea party for kids and their stuffies. So many museums in Nova Scotia offer teas as part of their programming, so why not extend this to younger audiences?
3. Teen Corps - a volunteer program for teens, where they get to help out with various museum initiatives, gaining transferrable skills and experience, and giving them the chance to share their local knowledge and perspectives. 
4. Words on Canvas - a writing competition for college students, where they are asked to write a piece of poetry that was inspired by something in the museum's collection. Submissions become bonus interpretive text/labels for their associated objects. I've seen this done and it is VERY effective.
5. Member Preview Day - open house for members only, to launch new exhibits. Perk for members and a way for the museum to test out the flow and effectiveness of the new exhibit. Win-win. I've worked these events and you can definitely learn a lot by watching how people interact with each other, the space and exhibit.
6. SPARK! Cultural Programming for People with Memory Loss - for people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their caregivers, participants do basic activities that help with cognitive functions and maintaining motor skills, and talk about community history and old photos.
7. Culture Me Mine Date Night - something for couples, but could easily work for pairs or small groups. A scavenger hunt, game show-style quiz, and craft activity make this a fun night out. 
8. Poetry N' Rhythm - a monthly open-mic event where musicians, artists, storytellers etc. are invited to share their talent. Anyone else think this sounds a lot like some Celtic Colours events?
9. Nicole Carson Bonilla: A Cowgirl's Legacy - a personal storytelling of one family's western experience. Hunley says it best, "every community contains characters with unexpected and even surprising stories. These life histories provide commentary and new viewpoints on historic narratives and changing community cultures."
10. Echoes of the Past Cemetery Tours - costumed volunteers portray people who are interred in the cemetery and share their life stories with participants. I've played one of these characters and also hear about this happening in multiple NS communities.
11. Star Parties - community stargazing! As simple or as complex as you want, provided someone can help people read the sky, and come up with a few simple activities and/or challenges. 
12. Veterans Day Program - similar to the cowgirl legacy above, this program invites veterans to share their stories and experiences, and create their own personal shadowbox exhibit.
13. Yule Log Hunt - a community scavenger hunt, where people solve local history riddles to find the hiding spot of the log. The yule log could be swapped out for almost any sort of identifiable local item.

So those are my highlights. I hope they sound interesting. 
If you want to have a sneak peek, there is a preview available through Google Books. 
If you want to borrow this book from us, click here

Friday, February 28, 2020

February 2020 Update

Here we are at the end of month #2 of our consolidation year. February didn't feel as busy as January, but there was still a lot on the go, and we were able to wrap up and consolidate some more things.

We did a lot of running around in February, and a lot of sitting on the phone or computer for virtual meetings. I sit on the CNSA's Education Committee and we are actively planning and preparing for the annual spring conference. We had two meetings and a lot of email discussions this month.

The Digitization & Digital Preservation Discussion Group held a mostly virtual meeting (a few people were in a room together in Ottawa) and had some great chats about issues facing museums across the country. I shared a snapshot of our recent survey of time-based media holdings, and there was a lot of talk about legacy equipment and software. This group is really generous in its information sharing.

The meeting that will likely be of most interest to our readers took place last week, when Anita and I met with CCH staff to talk about CMAP. We shared the realities and individualities of museums in the program and beyond, and talked about the evolution of CMAP. We know everyone is keen to hear news of the program and potential changes, and we are feeling optimistic that there will be some news soon.

Museum Evaluation Program
As one final wrap-up to the 2019 evaluations, we were very pleased to release the big, overarching annual report this month. Download it here. Annual reports for every year of the MEP are available on our website, and provide an overview of the program and look at trends and issues facing museums across the province. Each report ends with a "moving forward" section, which shares thoughts on key issues and how we can collectively progress.

Two more Q&A emails went out, and lots more questions came in, so I've slightly increased the frequency of messages. It's interesting to see which questions come in from year to year, and the different approaches that museums take in preparing for their evaluation. On our end, I've updated a number of administrative and internal support files relating to the MEP, including the post-evaluation survey that will be circulated in the fall.

It was a very busy month for the the MEP Working Group. We welcomed 3 new members - Joe Ballard (Little White Schoolhouse Museum & ANSM board member), Lynette de Montreuil (DesBrisay Museum), and Matthew Hughson (Fisherman's Life Museum). We also received and reviewed an impressive number of applications from people wanting to serve as evaluators this year. As we've said in previous years, the credentials of applicants is impressive, and it was difficult to limit our selections to the number of people needed.

Looking at Accreditation, we're working with a local communications company on branding and marketing. We had a great first meeting, have had numerous emails and calls since then, and our consultant is just as excited as we are to share the results of this work with everyone in the Spring (not to mention we're excited to honour those museums that have received this designation).

CollectiveAccess Updates
When I reviewed the stats this month of new and updated records, I saw a lot of activity. Most of this related to updating records. The Fleming students alone updated 320 records, and museum staff and volunteers updated many, many more. In addition to this, 489 new records and an impressive 2,353 new images (and a few videos) were added to the databases.
Here are the regional stats:
Southwest - 137,053 artifacts, 85,800 images
Central - 103,124 artifacts, 64,897 images
Northeast - 36,890 artifacts, 53,570 images
Cape Breton - 31,216 artifacts, 17,315 images

We finished the testing of the new Transcribe feature on NovaMuse and associated settings in CollectiveAccess. Big thanks to those museums that helped with the testing. Their feedback helped us tweak things to be more intuitive and user-friendly. I circulated an email announcement which included links to Sandi's YouTube tutorials. In case any museums missed it, here's the video that teaches how to set your records to be transcribable. For the public, here's the video that shows you how to transcribe museum records. There's a nice new homepage button for Transcribe, so as we add new records to the feature, we hope the public will enjoy reading them and helping us decipher interesting penmanship and inscriptions.

Educational Partnerships
Our winter project with Fleming College is moving along well. This month the students finished their data cleaning (proofreading) work, and I reviewed all 320 records - phew! They've done a really great job, and I was quite impressed with some of the improvements they made. The next step is to research an object and see if they can add more contextual info. Some of the students have already started this and wow - cool stuff is being uncovered.
As I mentioned last month, the students are reviewing some of the participating museums' earliest acquisitions, so it's great to go back to these early records and add missing details, and also give the museums tips on how they can improve them further using their local knowledge and ability to examine the objects firsthand.

Keeping Fresh
Unfortunately most of the training opportunities of this month conflicted with meetings and other obligations. On more than one occasion there were 3 interesting activities happening at the same. Still, I was able to participate in a Tamarack Institute webinar on the Courage to Lead. We follow a museum leadership blog, and I found it very interesting to compare the various approaches I've experienced and been learning about. As with anything, you probably won't agree 100% with a single approach, but there are definitely lessons to learn from all of them.