Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 2009 Update

Steering Committee
The PSC is starting to discuss the next SDI funding proposal. While it is still in the very preliminary planning stages, the committee is very excited at the way things are shaping up. We hope to be able to increase face-to-face time with support staff, and increase efficiency with training and troubleshooting issues.

Site Visits
The database upgrade is ready to roll out, and site visits are now being scheduled. Requests for visits are coming in quickly, so if you have a certain day/week in mind, let Karin know asap so she can schedule you in.
The following subjects will be covered during visits:
· Passage self-assessment & game plan
· Database upgrade & review of changes
· Installation of & introduction to Crossloop®
· Installation of & introduction to Skype™
Data Cleaning (aka Lynn’s work)
April & May were very productive months for data cleaning. Lynn managed to get through two sites and over 16,700 records. Since the data cleaning initiative began, 140,000 records have been cleaned. With the comprehensive and customized reports that are given back to each site that receives this service, partner sites are then able to continue entering information in the most professional manner to ensure that their records will never need to be cleaned again.

Data Entry Support (aka Melanie’s work)
Melanie has been working away on Queen’s County Museum’s records and making good progress, entering basic info into their database to help eliminate their backlog.
Do you have a backlog of paper records to be entered in your database? Could you use some extra assistance getting through it? If you’re interested in receiving this support please follow the call for proposals that was sent out last week and send it to Karin. This does not have to be a formal application; you just have to prove that you could use some help. If you no longer have the call for proposals document, let Karin know and she can send it off to you.

Artefacts Canada Tally
With such a productive data cleaning month, this inevitably means that May was also a great month for getting more records online. A grand total of 16,478 records were sent up, which means we now have a grand total of 80,124 records on Artefacts Canada!

Here are the current regional standings:
Central: 27,666
Southwest: 24,983
Northeast: 19,932
Cape Breton: 7,543

Congratulations to the Central region for taking over the lead spot and uploading the most records this month. Way to go!!

New Staff & Volunteers at Passage Sites
There have been more staff and volunteer changes taking place at partner sites.
Colchester Historical Museum has hired a new Curator, Aidan Norton.
The Debert Military Museum has Sue Taylor taking over Passage activities.
LaHave Islands Marine Museum has said goodbye to Sheila Chambers. Kathy Sullivan is taking her place as their new curator.

Welcome aboard to all the new faces; we look forward to working with you. And to all those who are moving on to new adventures, thank you for your dedication and hard work over the years. We will miss you and truly appreciate your contribution to heritage.

Blog Polls
Since the majority of sites have not yet voted in the blog poll it has again been extended. Please vote at the bottom of the page if you haven’t already. We really appreciate your input as it helps determine how best to serve the partners.

Friday, May 29, 2009

SDI Interim Report

PASSAGE PROJECT – Increasing Capacity and Online Profiles
Interim Report March 31, 2009


The Passage Project sought funding to increase the capacity and online profile of 53 community museums through uploading information to Artefacts Canada. Funding was also sought to incorporate three new museums into the group.

Funding Deliverables:
• 100,000 clean and unclean basic records uploaded to Artefacts Canada
• review and clean collections databases for 15 sites, proofreading and reviewing information and providing customized report on improving methodology
• 500 new and updated enriched records with images uploaded to Artefacts Canada
• 50 site visits conducted by Passage Project staff, providing on-site one-on-one consultation with museum staff & volunteers
• Regular contact and communication with member institutions
• Increased communication and cooperation with other organizations
• Improved management practices tracking members’ capacity
• Increased visitation and enquiries, monitoring success of uploading information


The primary objective of uploading information to Artefacts Canada is to increase Passage partners’ online profiles, which will in turn increase their online and on-site visitation numbers and enquiries. This not only increases the level of understanding of their current audience, but reaches out to new visitors, increasing Nova Scotia’s heritage profile as a whole.
To date, 63,656 records have been uploaded, representing 64% of the funding obligation.

The Data Cleaning work provides sites with visible improvements to their databases, along with a report that helps them maintain this consistency in the future, regardless of changes in staff or other issues. Furthermore, it prepares records for uploading to Artefacts Canada so that sites do not have to worry about having unprofessional information made available to the public.
To date, six sites have received the data cleaning service, representing 40% of the funding obligation.

Passage has continued in its partnership with the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) in order to increase the number of enriched records on Artefacts Canada and the Virtual Museum of Canada. Focusing on furniture that was either made in Nova Scotia or holds special significance for the partner museum, objects were photographed, researched, and uploaded to Artefacts Canada.
To date, 300 records were enriched, representing 60% of the funding obligation.

During the winter months very little travel has taken place due to the weather. That said, there were several special events and emergency support visits that have been able to take place.
To date, 10 of the 50 site visits have been conducted, representing 20% of the funding obligation.

In February Karin attended the Provincial Museum Association meetings hosted by CHIN and the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) in Ottawa. This is the fifth year that Passage staff have been invited to attend this invaluable event. A follow-up report was drafted and sent out to partner sites (see attached). This gave Karin an opportunity to communicate face to face with CHIN, our primary federal funder, and thereby determine of how best to proceed with that partnership. This information will be reviewed by the Passage Steering Committee at the April meeting in order to meet CHIN’s May deadline for applications for collections development projects.

In March Karin attended the annual CMA conference in Toronto, for which a follow-up report will be written and sent out to the members, similar to the PMA follow-up report. An overview of the sessions will be provided to members so that they can benefit from the event even though they were unable to attend.

Richard Cloutier has been making some minor adjustments to the collections database in order to allow multiple users/computers to access and update the database at the same time. Until now, the program had to be kept as a master copy on one computer, which for some partners was limiting access and slowing the rate of work. The update will be ready shortly, and will be installed during the spring and summer site visits to partners.


In the coming months, Karin will be attending the ANSM annual conference in Dartmouth and regional group meetings around the province. She will then begin conducting site visits to deliver the database upgrades and facilitate the uploading of the remaining collections databases.

Passage staff and the Steering Committee are in regular communication with members through phone, email, and the Passage blog ( The blog has become an integral part of the Passage communication plan, providing members with a way to access past and present updates, notices, and messages from the Steering Committee. It also allows members to comment on the postings and answer questions that help the Steering Committee determine the future direction of Passage. Full updates are posted at once a month, with additional information being posted as required.

Overall, the Passage Project work plan is on track and the Steering Committee and staff are confident that the funding deliverables will be met by the end of the project year.
The following 55 sites, organized by region, are the current members of Passage. 53 are returning Passage Partners for the 2008/09 year. Two new sites, the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame and Charles MacDonald Concrete House, have just signed contracts to join the group.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CMA Conference Follow-Up Report - Part 4


Toronto, March 25-28, 2009

Follow-up Report

Holocaust Era Cultural Property: Workshop on Research Methodology

Presenter: Anabelle Kienle

This workshop outlined the steps taken by fine arts provenance researchers, taking a particular focus on case studies of artworks that were taken from Jewish families of European countries during the Nazi occupation. The following is their general research methodology which can be applied to any and all collection research projects.

Define Scope

  1. Establish target list – identify objects, utilize pre-existing information, input information in database
  2. Group objects by priority – start with most important objects.

Confirm, Expand & Establish Chain of Ownership

  1. Physical examination of the object, consulting with in-house resources. Gather documentation.
  2. Provenance research with a variety of sources, including exhibit history, genealogy, bibliographies.

Integrate & Disseminate Information

  1. Fulfill mandate by establishing and following standards, integrating data into the collections database, compile provenance report
  2. Consider options for knowledge dissemination, ie newsletters, exhibit labels, exhibition, scholarly contributions etc.

When research fine arts collections, certain information is expected that is slightly different from your normal artifact research. When examining the object, note all labels, marks, etc as this will provide preliminary provenance information. Labels have been documented by several galleries and compiled into searchable databases, most notably through the National Gallery in Washington. Information should be compiled chronologically, including exact dates, owner’s birth & death dates, and any known dates & methods of transfers of ownership. Finally, include all references used during the research process so that someone could repeat the research if desired.

Out of the Ordinary - Engaging New Audiences

Moderator: Gerry Osmond

“In order to be relevant we have to be seen in places that matter to our audience & community”. Through a series of case studies, panelists shared their success stories of reaching out to their community and expanding their audiences.

Free Admission

NB Museum initiated Free February in order to try and boost visitation. Not only was this successful, increasing their February numbers by 420%, but their March numbers increased slightly as well. Feedback showed that many visitors were local and had never been to the museum before, and they intended to return. With the current economy, they were looking for entertainment and activities in their own backyard, and the museum is able to meet this need.

Business partnerships

NB Museum partnered with Bay Ferries to share social and natural history educational programming with passengers on the Princess of Acadia. Coupons were given out to the audience, encouraging them to visit Saint John’s museums to learn more, and the NB Museum reported a marked increase in visitation by Bay Ferry passengers. Recognized as an innovative partnership the museum and company were short-listed for an award for their creativity.

Educational Partnerships

By partnering with Bachelor of Education programs, Alberta museums have engaged with pre-service teachers in order to establish a relationship and induce them to bring their students to the museum once they are working in the classroom. Participants work with archivists and curators to gain a behinds-the-scenes appreciation of museum work and draw connections between museums and curriculum content. This lets new teachers and museum staff create authentic experiences for their students.

A less orthodox method of educational outreach is being done by the Calgary Police Museum. Instead of focusing entirely on the history of the police force, the museum acts as a crime prevention centre. Working with the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre, recent graduates share their stories through a “dead end street” exhibit, showing the gradual descent into the world of crime & drugs. It is in essence a variation of the ‘scared straight’ idea, but also allows past offenders to work with the community as part of their rehabilitation process.

CMA Conference Follow-Up Report - Part 3


Toronto, March 25-28, 2009

Follow-up Report

What Road Will We Take?

Presenter: Chantal Hébert

Ms. Hébert delivered a poignant dissertation on the position of culture and heritage in today’s political scene, intertwining political jabs with remarkable insight for a self-proclaimed outsider. The following was the theme of her discussion:

Without political alignment with all parties at all times, culture and heritage will always remain an attractive item for the chopping block. Building bridges with politicians will reinforce the sector’s importance, and you will be less likely to be forgotten when a new party comes to power.

Engaging Communities through Preservation

Presenters: Richard Fuller, Brian Laurie-Beaumont, Gayle McIntyre

Richard discussed the various ways in which Doon Heritage Crossroads engages both their local and extended community. On a small scale, Richard hosts and mentors interns from Sir Sandford Fleming College. The interns inevitably build ties to the local community, and continue to stay engaged after they have moved on with their careers. Not only does this bring support at an individual level, but interns friends and families connect with the museum as well. On a larger scale at the local community level, one of Doon’s most successful methods of engagement is an annual Seed Saver’s Workshop that is carried out in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada. For the younger crowd, they have a Junior Interpretor’s Summer Day Camp, which partners children with various museum tasks so that they can experience real museum work. Many of these children later become summer staff and/volunteers, as the experience engages them and allows them to take ownership of their community’s heritage.

Gayle provided an overview of Sir Sandford Fleming College’s three museum studies programs, focusing on the important combination of theoretical and hands-on work. The programs culminate with a 4-month internship that provides the student with valuable real-life experience and provides host organizations with some much-needed assistance. The internships are unpaid, but are a credited course and so have certain requirements such as the completion of a substantial research project. This research project must be of benefit to the host organization, but beyond that the student has the freedom to choose the topic and direction of the work. Students work with their internship supervisors to determine their topic, and must be given dedicated time during work hours to complete the project. Beyond the research project, host organizations are encouraged to include their interns in a wide variety of tasks and provide them with opportunities for networking and professional development whenever possible.

Brian’s talk focused on the fact that people learn best when they are involved, and when they connect emotionally with the message. It is up to museums to provide their visitors and audience with this opportunity. They must be all-inclusive, and engage their public, staff/board/volunteers, funders, non-profit partners, and private sector partners. There has been a change in the core markets of museums. Changing immigration patterns have seen a shift from European to predominantly Asian immigration. This shift can potentially translate into a different approach to cultural and heritage preservation. Members of Generation Y have different methods of information acquisition, predominantly through a limited number of online networks, and without meeting them at these websites museums will become lost. Visitors are focused on cultural tourism filled with experiences and activitie; a need that again must be met by museums. In conclusion, consider how your audience perceives you. It is imperative that you stay on mission, but it might be time to change the mode of delivery to connect with and engage your community. This can be as easy as broadening your definition of heritage preservation.

Engaging the Past: A Cross-Canada Portrait

Presenters: Jocelyn Létourneau & David Northrup

The plenary session was the presentation of the results of a survey and study on the topic of Canadians and their Pasts. Engagement was measured in two spheres, family activities and more general activities related to public history. Participants were asked to select which methods they use to engage in their past. Following is a breakdown of answers:

Family Activities

Public History Activities

Look at Family Photos


Watch Movies


Look at Family Heirlooms


Read Books


Visit Familial Places


Visit Historical Sites


Create or Look at Scrapbooks


Visit Museums


Research the Family Tree


Watch Movies


Play Games


Visit Archives


Almost all respondents claimed to engage in their past in some way or other. 50% of respondents engaged in more than 5 activities.

65% of respondents said museums are very trustworthy, for the following reasons:

  1. stewards of important material culture
  2. reverence for artifacts and truth of the past
  3. sense of connectivity
  4. can’t afford to ‘get it wrong’
  5. trained staff & volunteers who are dedicated to the pursuit of information about the collection

The majority of Canadians go to museums in order to understand the past and how they connect to it through their own history. They want an individual perspective to see how they fit into the grand scheme of things. They are no longer interested in learning a general national history, but want to see how their own family connects to the larger picture.

CMA Conference Follow-Up Report - Part 2


Toronto, March 25-28, 2009

Follow-up Report

Heritage Policy Development in the Regions

Panelists: Jerry Dyck (Nfld), Bill Greenlaw (NS), Anne Hayward (Alta), Michel Perron (Qué)

Several provinces have been working on policies and strategic documents. This session provided an overview of these policies, and asked the panelists for insight based on their experiences.

Anne reported that Alberta’s policy has a provincial scope, as well as a focus on Edmonton and Calgary as the two major centres. Introduced in January 2008, it recognizes the shift in tourism from an economic to cultural focus. It creates links with businesses, schools, and outlines the social benefits of heritage.

Newfoundland & Labrador
This government document is all-inclusive and outlines the government support on heritage in the broadest sense. It is applicable to community museums, and contains strategic directions for the following topics: Aboriginal control over programs, creative education, preserving tangible cultural heritage, safeguarding intangible heritage, a provincial historic commemoration program. What is missing is the inclusion of natural history, but it is hoped that this will be incorporated into the document at a later date. The policy is currently being referred as government is in the process of creating a heritage act.

Nova Scotia
Bill started by saying that he has been floored by the power of the document (A Heritage Strategy for Nova Scotia 2008 - 2013), as he is no longer having to explain the relevancy of heritage to cabinet as they have truly taken ownership of the government strategy. 15 departments were engaged during the development process, and two of the noteworthy pieces are the recommendations to review the Nova Scotia Museum system and funding processes.

Michel reported that a museum policy has been developed using the broad sense of the word; an all-encompassing document that can be applied to all sites. It is based on a principal of knowledge, and incorporates an evaluation system that can be compared to CMAP. 195 sites fall under this system, each of them receiving 30% of their operating budget.

After this initial review, the panelists were asked the following questions:

1. Has this policy development resulted in funding improvements or a shift in priorities?
Alta. - The Alberta ministry funds sites both directly and through foundations.
Since 2002 funding has gradually increased to 2 million, which allows for
the provision of direct support to staff and operating funds.
Nfld. - There has been a 3-4 fold increase in funding in recognition of increased need in/by communities. Sustainable funding is a priority, and it is hoped that long-term commitments will be made to meet the need of enhancing professional capacity.
NS. - This is the first time that heritage has been mentioned for an increase in the budget. For the Nova Scotia Museum budget this means an increase of 35%, which has allowed the NSM to provide seasonal staff with long-overdue raises. The government also gave a one-time gift of $10,000 to CMAP sites.
Qué. - 75% of the annual budget goes to provincial sites, with the remainder divided among the smaller museums. For the past 3 years substantial funding has been provided for exhibit refreshment, and a new business sponsorship program has been developed that is being called the Culture Placement Program.

2. How will the current economy affect museums?
Alta. - Government is afraid to cut funding to the core of the community. In all likelihood people will drastically cut back on their spending and it is imperative that museums remain front and centre to take advantage of this, focusing on building their local community and audience.
Nfld. - We are cautiously optimistic of an increase from the government since there is a precedent for that, but expect to see a big decrease in corporate and business funding. A plan is being developed to help access corporate funding.
NS. - With museums being such a focal point and core of communities, we are not expecting any cutbacks, but should see the status quo with funding.
Qué. - There is a great risk of losing private sponsorships from companies, and the seasonal and smaller sites are very fragile. It would not be a surprise to see some museums close their doors.

3. How is your attendance?
Alta. - Since people are staying so much closer to home we hope to see an increase in local visitors and grow that community.
Nfld. - There is a big need to build local audiences, especially in the outlying communities.
NS. - It is important to “do it for ourselves” first, increasing free visits to build the local audience.
Qué. - Visitor statistics haven’t changed, and are resting around 12.5 million.

4. What do you want to see in a federal museum policy?
Alta. - Pay attention to the nation, not just national museums.
Nfld. - We need programs to recognize the variety in the regions, sites etc. Small sites need to be included.
NS. - There should be partnership with the provincial governments in order to facilitate better coordination.
Qué. - It is very important to have political buy-in; the federal policy should complement policies at the provincial level.

5. What are the top 3 things that your provincial heritage minister needs to do?
Alta. - 1- Political leadership and support for the arts opens doors and has the
potential to enhance social well-being.
2- Fund traveling exhibits.
3- Big museums are good magnets, but don’t forget about the small
Nfld. - 1- A new policy means progress, but we can’t rest on our laurels.
2- The sustainability issues need to be recognized and addressed.
3- Support must be given to both provincial sites and the small community sites.
NS. - 1- The Heritage Minister has the opportunity to leave a legacy on how people see Nova Scotia for generations to come.
2- Invest in interpretive renewal.
Qué. - 1- Core, operational funding is needed.
2- Museum workers need to be able to access professional development opportunities.
3- The disappearance of federal programs is creating a big gap. We need other funding from a variety of sources.

CMA Conference Follow-Up Report - Part 1


Toronto, March 25-28, 2009

Follow-up Report

Karin Kierstead

Collections Coordinator - Passage Project

The following is an account of the sessions that I attended. I selected sessions based on what I thought would be most useful for the Passage partners, and for the Steering Committee as they plan for the future. I hope that you will find some helpful hints and information that can be applied to your sites.

Creating Sustainable Funding for your Nonprofit

Presenter: Terry Axelrod, Benevon Consultants

Before any fundraising work begins it is imperative to quantify your goal, determining your own definition of sustainable funding. For example, if you want to establish an endowment fund, calculate how large that fund would need to be in order to sustain the organization. You should also set goals in terms of where you will find your funding, ie 5% will come from corporations, 13% from foundations, etc etc.

Traditionally, organizations have focused on obtaining large sums of monetary support from large organizations and government groups. Smaller donations have been discounted as being worthwhile to pursue. The Benevon model focuses more on these individual donors and smaller sources of funding, creating a large support base for the organization. This method of creating sustainable funding is a circular model, using the following cycle: Point of Entry – Follow-up – Ask for Money – Introduce Others – Point of Entry etc.

  1. Point of Entry – starting with members of the organization, a one hour tour event is held that introduces or re-introduces people to the organization. This must have an emotional hook, but you should also be discussing the practical needs and goals of the group. It is imperative to obtain permission from attendees to record their names and contact info for follow-up. Your intro event agenda should include a start-up time where you greet attendees, have them sign-in, and mix and mingle among the group. The program itself should have a welcome by a board member explaining their personal reasons for getting involved, successes to date and vision for the future. This is the time to brag about your organization, but don’t take too long or you’ll start to lose interest. A walking tour of the site is a good idea, with three stops, each describing a mythbuster fact, story and need. An example could be that only 5% of the collection is actually on display because of a lack of space, pointing out a specific object that visitors heard about and were looking for. Mentioning your specific needs will help the attendee think about ways in which they can help you meet this need. The live testimonial is key, creating a connection with your audience and making the organization come to life.

  1. Follow-Up – this is the cultivation superhighway, and can be broken down into 5 simple steps. Re-connecting with your Point of Entry attendees, thank them for attending, and ask what they thought of the event. Then, be quiet and listen to their likes, dislikes, suggestions or whatever else they have to say. Ask if there is any way the attendee can see themselves getting involved with the group, and finally if there is anyone they think should be invited to a similar event in the future. While you are still not asking for money at this point, it is important to remember that the more contact you have with a person, especially in-person, the stronger the connection and the more likely they will be to support the organization.

  1. Ask for Money – there are two ways to ask for money, one-on-one or at an ask-hour free event. The key is to get multi-year pledges that can be connected with specific outcomes. Information on your new donor base should be entered in a database in order to track their involvement with the organization, the same as other members and volunteers are tracked. For the one-hour event a breakfast works well and it is possible that a sponsor could be found, greatly diminishing the cost of the event. Again, it is important to set goals, such as 100 people, 10 people per table. Table captains are important to answer questions and guide discussions during the event. Attendees should be welcomed, and listen to a short testimonial from someone connected with the group, but who isn’t a board member. A small commemorative gift should be given to each attendee, handed out by volunteers or the table captains. Each table should have a little feature vignette that will help the attendees to connect even more to the group as they enjoy their meal. Once the meal is finished, a visionary talk is given, followed by a very brief video that features various aspects of the museum. A live testimonial or interview then takes place with either a key community member or otherwise invested individual. It is then time for the “pitch”. A credible person who is linked to the mission of the organization follows a set script, and cards are given out by the table captains to each attendee. On the card are options for donating, such as:
    1. Sponsor an artifact for $100/yr for 5 years
    2. Sponsor a collection for $1,000/yr for 10 years
    3. Sponsor a museum for $10,000/yr for 5 years
    4. Contribute ____ for ____ years
    5. Contact me, I have other thoughts to share

  1. Introduce Others – now that a connection has been made and your community of sponsors is being built, these relationships need to be maintained. Continue to host bi-annual free feel-good cultivation events in order to keep donors engaged, update them on what their money has been spent on, and generally keep them informed on the organization’s progress. They are encouraged to invite others to these events who they believe would identify with the group, who could be invited to a Point of Entry event, bringing the process full circle.

This method of fundraising may seen overwhelming since it does require a fair bit of effort, but it has been proven to create sustainable funding for nonprofit groups from across North America. In order to succeed the focus must be on the context and content of information as opposed to the quantity of a museum’s collection. Museums must be recognized as a public good and should be supported as such.