Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 2008 Update

Site Visits
August was a month full of driving and visiting partner sites. I visited 29 sites in total, updating their databases, showing them what had changed, and chatting about how the season has been going.
Paul Collins (CMAP manager) and I shared a rental car and visited our members along the Cabot Trail, as well as a few who are off the beaten track. Although it was a very busy trip, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and managed to pose for a few pictures along the way. As you can see, one of our stops was at the Inverness Miner's Museum, where curator Ned Macdonald took on the extra role of photographer.
For those interested in visitor trends, it seems that things have picked up almost across the board in August, but were very quiet earlier in the summer. For those interested in weather trends, last summer I had about 2 days of rain while on the road, and this summer I’ve had about 2 days of sun.

Made in Nova Scotia – Phase III
The Made in NS enrichment team has been traveling the countryside, visiting many museums and helping them capture digital images of their collection and training them on the enrichment process. Lynn, Jen, and Peter have helped members take thousands of photos and upload them to members’ accounts on CHIN’s server. Now all that we have to do is update & upload the textual information, and our CHIN deliverables will be complete.
As a reminder, CHIN has asked that each participating site submit 20 enriched records.
If you are still struggling with what to select, try the following:
1st choice – Furnishings that were made in Nova Scotia
2nd choice – other objects that were made in Nova Scotia
3rd choice – objects that tell a great story about life in Nova Scotia

Data Cleaning
Given the fact that I was on the road almost every day this month, I have not completed any more databases. I hope to be back at this before the end of September, and as I mentioned last month, Lynn will be assisting with this work as well.

SDI Funding
Given the frenzy of emails and activity over the past few days about the 2009 SDI funding application, I do not think that it is necessary to dwell on that in my monthly report to you, the members. From Wednesday night, phone calls and emails abounded following the ANSM board decision. On Friday morning, I was informed that the Wolfville Historical Society was willing to host the SDI application on behalf of the group, and that support of this decision would be sought from the rest of the partners. Given the rapid influx of supportive emails affirming this decision, the SDI application was submitted before the 4pm deadline. The Steering Committee felt that this was an appropriate decision. If this is not what the majority of the membership wants, the application can be pulled before the adjudication process begins.
As I mentioned in the email notifying you of the blog update, the Steering Committee has asked that each member respond to this decision. If you have not already, please email me whether or not you support these actions so that I can pass this information along to the Committee. For those in favour, please send the following statement to, and CC Paul Collins at
“[Your organization] supports the Wolfville Historical Society as the lead applicant on the joint application to the Strategic Development Initiative in order to continue the work of the Passage Project in 2009”.
The Steering Committee wants to stress that this is not seen as a permanent move, nor is it meant to threaten the ANSM in any way. We are simply trying to ensure that Passage services will not be compromised.

Friday, August 29, 2008

2009 SDI Application




The Passage Project seeks funding to increase the recognition of the value of the community museum heritage resource through the development of a province-wide exhibition program and marketing campaign.

We are requesting salary support from the Strategic Development Initiative Fund for 1.2 staff to sustain the initiative. This will support one full-time staff worker as well as an on-call technical expert who has worked with the project since its inception.

Passage will work with the Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage to develop the marketing program to promote the exhibits of Made in NS collections. The exhibit program will be available to all museums across the province in order to facilitate an awareness of “social, economic, health, recreational, and environmental roles and benefits of heritage”. Passage members and other community members will be encouraged to enhance the quality of information about “Made in Nova Scotia” artefacts in their collections via the addition of digitized images and textual information. Passage members will support other community members with the enrichment process until they are comfortable with it.

Continuing partnerships with the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) will allow us to increase the number of enriched Made in NS records on Artefacts Canada, providing members with a wide variety of artifacts to choose from for the exhibition program. We will also be working to facilitate the incorporation of the new Nova Scotia Manufacturer’s Database into the revised CHIN website. This database provides a significant amount of accurate and detailed information about Nova Scotian companies operating in the province since the 1780s. This is an important tool in the improvement of creating information related to Passage member collections. As well, it will now be available to scholars and other people around the world who want to learn more about Nova Scotia’s heritage.

Concurrently, the outreach component of Passage will develop a maintenance plan for its members to prolong the life of their equipment. The outreach will encompass the use of Skype (a free online telephone system) for a broad range of training and technical support. Instead of requiring site visits to solve problems, the staff worker will be able to walk museum staff through the solution. Museums will also be able to freely communicate with eachother when they encounter issues. Both of these scenarios will broaden the capacity of the community through information sharing. As well, outreach will continue to encourage and assist in the preparation of enriched records while developing skills in the community.

As recognized in the provincial heritage strategy, this initiative will be supportive of the provincial government’s goal to identify significant heritage resources. It will also improve the sustainability of the province’s museums.



The Passage Project was initiated by 18 year round museums joining forces to submit an SDI proposal that resulted in the development of a common information management tool plus provided computer training and IT support. The project has steadily grown as more museums have realized the benefits and economy of co-operative work.

Passage has worked with Valerie Lenethen, Collection Management Consultant for the Heritage Division who has delivered training in collection management. The collection management database has been upgraded to include a data dictionary developed by Valerie and now has the ability to include digital images of collection records. The Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA) became involved in the project’s development when partner museums asked that Passage provide a means to include their archival holdings.

A steering committee for the Passage Project was established in the Summer of 2004 which consists of representatives from each of the heritage regions as well as representatives of provincial organizations. The committee meets on a quarterly basis and its main focus for the first year was to develop policies and procedures to guide the project. It has also overseen the transfer of management from the Dartmouth Heritage Museum to the Federation of Nova Scotian Heritage, that hosts the project, in April of 2005. This transfer strengthens the project’s role within the community of museums in Nova Scotia as well as supporting FNSH key goals and priorities.

Currently, Passage includes 55 museums that collectively have 200,000+ records. As a part of last year’s activities, 700 records pertaining to Made in NS artifacts were enriched and uploaded to Artefacts Canada. Additionally, two data entry clerks were hired to work on the Manufacturer’s Database, which now holds approximately 6500 entries. They completed the addition of paper records to the database, and performed supplementary research to increase consistency in the level of information. Upgrades have been made to the Collections and Cemetery databases, and training has been given on the new condition report & loan features. Data cleansing has also continued, with another 29,000 records being cleaned from 13 sites. Over 12,000 of these records have been uploaded to Artefacts Canada, increasing the museums’ public profile and accessibility to their collections.


This year’s project will focus on the development of a provincial exhibition & marketing program in cooperation with the relevant provincial agencies. Passage members and community museums will be encouraged to look at their collections and identify items that have been uploaded to Artefacts Canada, and that they could develop an exhibition theme around. Training will be offered in exhibit development, ie themes, label writing, presentation etc. In addition to the province’s marketing, we will create a marketing strategy and encourage participating museums to focus their own marketing on their Made in NS items.

In support of this project, Passage has just begun Phase III of the Made in NS Collections Enrichment Project. The continuation of this initiative is aimed at further enabling community museums to effectively manage their collections by improving the quality and depth of information available particularly in relation to their relevance to Nova Scotia. To this end, the project will target partner sites lacking an online presence, particularly on Artefacts Canada. The Collections Enrichment team will be conducting site visits where they will work at these museums for one day capturing digital images of items to showcase on Artefacts Canada. This will ensure that the enriched records are suitable for uploading to Artefacts Canada.

Again, items will again be chosen that were hand-made or manufactured in the province. However there will be a secondary focus on the Furnishings category as per the Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing manual. It is anticipated that another 450 records will be photographed and enriched during this year’s project.

New partner museums will be supported by the project in the next stage with new standard equipment, plus database software, training and IT support. A number of heritage organizations in the province continue to contact the project for inclusion. The project, supported by 1.2 contract workers, can only effectively manage a maximum of 60 partner organizations. It is critical to the quality of the IT product that outreach services are provided to all of the Passage Project partners so that the quality of the work is not jeopardized. To develop the capacity of the partners (improve their collections management practices) technical advice on data entry, software and hardware management must be readily available through the outreach worker.

This project ensures that the general public will have access to information about Nova Scotia’s past through the Artefacts Canada web-site. The data cleaning aspect continues to work towards a consistent and standard body of information from across the province.

It is our hope that this information, written and visual, could become an inspiration for crafts people to create new works based on artifacts in collections around the province. Our exhibit & marketing campaign will provide the opportunity for craftspeople to become acquainted with a variety of objects that could inspire them to either re-create or incorporate heritage crafts into their work.


This proposal will contribute to the development of community museums in Nova Scotia by:

developing a provincial exhibition & marketing program in cooperation with the relevant provincial agencies

- helping to increase the number of visitors to museums across the province

- providing museums with a free method of communicating with other partner sites & staff support

­ continuing to foster stronger ties between museums while increasing their understanding of the strength and economy of joint projects.

training personnel and providing standardized equipment with information support systems leading to better management of heritage information assets

supporting key functions of museum operation by improving collection management practices and the collection, preservation, research and interpretation of heritage material

- ensuring that training is available to continuing partners so that they (old and new personnel) have the skills to effectively operate the equipment and enter/manage/retrieve data

- improving their ability to provide better public access to information about collections (especially Made In Nova Scotia) and other information resources more easily and efficiently

- improving accountability to public enquiries relating to donations

- improved management/support of volunteer resources by recording and tracking activities and contributions.

- positioning partners to access other grant opportunities (particularly Federal) as a result of improved standards and accountability

- providing grassroots support on a fundamental level by continuing to add partners

- providing on-site assistance with digitization & uploading of records to Artefacts Canada

- attending regional meetings and keeping members up to date and pro-active

- continued partnerships with NS Heritage Division, CNSA, and CHIN (provincial and national)

- a minimum of 450 records will be enriching and uploading a minimum of 450 artifacts to Artefacts Canada

Friday, August 22, 2008

CCI Workshop - September 26th

The Canadian Conservation Institute is coming to Truro to deliver a great workshop on dealing with seasonal preservation issues. While it will be especially geared towards seasonal museums, everyone can learn something from this great workshop. If you have any questions about the workshop feel free to contact Ian Mullan, the ANSM's new administrative assistant. He can be reached at 423-4677.

Preservation Management for Seasonal Museums

Colchester Historical Society Museum, Truro NS

September 26, 2008


MORNING: (9:00-12:00)


Seasonal Museums

- What they are

- Advantages and disadvantages

The Nature of Museum Objects: Materials and Construction

The Agents of Deterioration

- What they are

- How to recognize them

- Ways to reduce them

Building Inspections and Maintenance

- What to look for

- Building walk-around exercise (optional)


AFTERNOON: (1:00-4:30)

Maintaining Collections

- Looking at objects (condition report exercise)

- Preserving collections in storage

- Handling; Cleaning; Treatment

Seasonal Procedures for Buildings and Collections

- Fall closing

- Spring opening

- During the winter