Monday, May 31, 2021

May 2021 Update

Learning Opportunities
Interpretation I: Public Programming is almost done, and then we'll be taking a break from museum studies program courses until the Fall. As a reminder, I'll be delivering Collections Management and Curatorship in October/November following the same online, five-week format that we've been using for other courses. If you need to talk to your board about registering, now is a great time to start. 

Emma has contacted Advisory Service members about this summer's hub training sessions on domestic textile digitization. Due to restrictions two of these sessions will be virtual and three will be in person. If you haven't yet signed up, please do it asap. If you have any questions, contact Emma. Thanks for your understanding as we've had to change our original plans.

Museum Evaluation Program
May 7th was the deadline for Documentation Review submissions and it was great to see how organized and complete everyone's files were. The review and scoring process is going to take some time, but is coming along well. Briefing notes have also been started, which will help site evaluators get to know the museums before they arrive. With the release of the province's reopening plan we are looking forward to finally visiting all the museums we had hoped to visit last summer. 

There will be one more Deep Dive on June 10th, part two of our series on the Site Evaluation. Whether you're being evaluated this year or another year, this is a great chance to learn more about the site evaluation and the questions and issues relating to it. 

Site Visits
Emma is excited to get out on the road and meet you all! She has most arrangements settled by now, and has already been actively visiting virtually with some museums. As usual, these visits include a variety of subjects. We're still looking to build stockpiles of "Made in NS" resources (info on local artists, manufacturers etc.) and school programs (old or current program documents, ideas, interesting artefacts etc.) for NovaMuseEd. We're also hoping to have some time to digitize a few domestic textiles and will be in touch beforehand to talk more about the discussion agenda. 

CollectiveAccess Updates
We migrated a museum's old database into CollectiveAccess this month, which is where the bulk of new records come from in our monthly tally. This month 4,677 new records and 1,956 new images were added across the province, giving us totals of 332,492 records and 279,723 images. As we mentioned last month, with summer students being hired, and museums using a combination of work-from-home and socially distanced work, be sure to promote quality work over quantity.

Here's how things stand regionally:
Southwest: 141,438 artefacts, 96,419 images
Central: 104,862 artefacts, 88,817 images
Northeast: 53,580 artefacts, 70,349 images
Cape Breton: 32,612 artefacts, 24,138 images

Congrats to the Northeast region for adding the most artefact records this month, and to the Central region for adding the most images.

Your image lesson of the month is another look at domestic textiles. Here's an adorable doily that is a perfect example of someone chasing quantity rather than quality. Let's look at the setup. Even with the dark background fabric, I can see wrinkles and tell that the photographer didn't take the time to flatten the fabric. Before you start photographing, make sure that your backdrop is free of wrinkles, lint, dirt, etc. For the scale, remember that it should be in the lower left corner of the frame, and that it needs to be straight in alignment. Do not move it around to different corners. Being consistent is a demonstration of your professionalism. Turning our attention to the doily, the id tag should have been removed as this is not part of the object itself. Most often the accession number will not be visible because it will be on the back of an object, but when tags like this are used, if the tag cannot be hidden from view, remove it and then reattach it after you take the photo. Once the tag is removed, place the item in its natural position. In this case, flat on the backdrop. You can tell from the uneven edges that this circular doily is not flat. It might not look bad to your eye, but in the photo it is very noticeable. Moving to the camera, frame the doily so that it is the centre of the photo and your scale is part of the frame rather than the focus. And finally, crop out any dead space so that you have an equal frame on all sides of the object. Trust me, it will be well worth the extra two minutes of work.


NovaMuseEd
As I mentioned above, we are keen to continue our NovaMuseEd work. Sarah has already completed a draft learning activity relating to the census. Cheryl is still volunteering with us and is working on a folk art activity. And we have plans to develop at least one activity related to domestic textiles later this summer. The variety in these resources continues to amaze and amuse me. And as we can see in this graph, teachers are using these resources more and more all the time. So whether you've got a successful school program already or if you're new to the idea of sharing resources online, we want to work with you on this. Museums have been saying for years that help is needed to connect with schools in new ways and we're hearing from teachers how very helpful these resources are to them, especially during a pandemic. So let's keep building on this momentum. If you are interested in working with us on this, let Emma know.

Educational Partnerships
In case you missed it, at the beginning of the month we welcomed Sarah to team ANSM. Sarah is tackling a variety of work and sitting in on some virtual visits since she's working remotely from Ontario. From data cleaning to learning activities, she has hit the ground running. One of the tasks that she's preparing to launch into is...

SME Work
That's right! We love pairing interns with SMEs, and this summer is no exception. Since our digitization focus is on domestic textiles, we have been talking with a textile SME about reviewing and improving related content in everyone's databases. We are still hammering our details, but stay tuned for more announcements because this is gonna be good. There are so many beautiful textiles out there and we look forward to beautifying their records. 

Keeping Fresh
My evaluation course continues and my notes about MEP improvements are getting a little longer every week. 

This week will be the last session in the Burnout Resiliency series and let me tell you, museum workers are not alone in feeling burnt out. The sessions still feel like weekly therapy, and I am hopeful that I can not only apply the lessons I've learned into ANSM's  operational reality, but share some lessons with our members as well. 

I also took part in a Decolonization webinar series that feels especially powerful now as we mourn the loss/discovery of 215 children in BC. As museums, we have a responsibility to document and share the past, including horrors like this. We must be actively looking at how we can contribute to reconciliation and healing. One of webinars spoke about how to take action. If you're feeling compelled to do something and don't know where to begin, check out this website.