Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tribute to Ned MacDonald

On Friday we lost a very special colleague.  Ned MacDonald, curator of the Inverness Miner's Museum, and a strong proponent for sharing Nova Scotia's heritage in creative and educational ways, passed away at the ANSM Spring Conference in Port Hawkesbury.  Words cannot express how shocking this was, or what a hole this will leave in the heritage community and in the community of Inverness County.  Ned was a retired teacher and had been a municipal councillor since 1988.  His latest appointment was that of Deputy Warden.  He was the last of the original group that established the miner's museum in 1977.

Ned’s passion extended to many spheres in his life.  To anyone who met with Ned in his office, it was clear that this was a true family man.  His desk was covered in family photos.  He was also devoted to his community, creating learning and job opportunities for youth, and sharing the town’s history with anyone who would listen.

He always thought about the big picture and looked for ways to move the museum forward.  Ever positive, Ned was always eager to hear about the latest developments and special projects that would help to boost the profile of both the museum and the community in educational and creative ways.  Over the past few years, this has meant photographing the collection and sharing artifact records and stories on the Virtual Museum of Canada.  In 2009, Ned’s paintings were the inspiration for our pan-provincial research project on art objects in museum collections.  He was typically Nova Scotian in his modesty about showcasing his own works online, and asked numerous times if we wouldn’t rather show off something “better”.  The museum had also just received a contract from the Canadian Heritage Information Network to complete a Community Memories Project, a virtual exhibit entitled "The Broken Ground: A History of a Cape Breton Coal Mining Community".

Because of his busy schedule, Ned did not often get to attend regional workshops or heritage meetings.  When he walked into the conference on Friday morning, he was grinning ear to ear.  He glowed with pride as he shared the success stories of the Miner’s Museum; he relished the opportunity to share the news from Inverness.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Ned’s family and friends.  His enthusiasm and dedication will be greatly missed.  It won’t be the same without him.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

PMA Follow-Up Report - Part 2

Museum Knowledge Workers for the 21st Century
The University of Toronto recently completed a project to evaluate the role of technology in the changing museum environment, thereby determining the technological skill set required by emerging museum professionals.  Reviewing curricula of the various museum studies programs available in North America as well as post-graduate professional development opportunities enabled U of T to identify gaps between what is being taught and what is actually needed.  There were three goals for the project: assess the impact of technology on museums, provide information on curriculum development in museum studies program to better serve changing needs of museums, and enable museums to better plan for professional development. 
The full 59-page report is available online here.  

New Technologies Roundtable
Four groups presented on the use of new technologies in their work, which included a presentation by Karin on the use of Crossloop for remote assistance. 

Last year you heard that PEI was working on creating downloadable tours, using audio & video files to enhance visitor experiences.  These are now available for purchase as souvenir cds.  They have also created a collection management cd which contains slide shows, videos, quizzes, samples, test sheets and supporting documents.  A way of combating the succession planning conundrum, the cds are meant to provide their members with all the information they need to handle collections management issues.  Whether it’s a new volunteer, student, or seasoned veteran, everyone should be able to refer to the cd to find the information they are looking for.

The Ontario Museum Association reported that they have created a community of practice portal on their website.  This allows their members to login and review information prior to site visits, adding items to meeting agendas, and also ask and/or answer questions.  They have moved their website to a content management system, allowing members to control their own profile information.

Saskatchewan has been working on a pilot project creating GPS tours of provincial heritage.  Similar to the PEI project, they hired actors and sought out a lot of supporting information, but the focus is on the southern part of the province.  They project has 10 museum sites involved, and 15 in-kind and supporting partners, some of which the association has never worked with before.  In order to participate, museums had to get a letter of support from their communities, as well as sign a letter of commitment.  The tours will be available through mp3 players and cell phones, provided they can handle gps coordinates.

Standards Update
As some of you may be aware, a nomenclature working group has been reviewing the Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing, working on clarifications and additions to the rules for cataloguing and classifying cultural objects.  For the most part, clarifications have been made to fields such as discipline, classification, title, school/style, and the measurement fields.  The only change that will really affect the Passage database is an adjustment to the date formats, but until we are able to make the necessary adjustments, our current formatting will be acceptable as an alternative.

The group has not only completed their work, but a Nomenclature 3.0 has just been published.  The new book can be ordered from the Altamira Press and is on sale during April.  A Standards Reference database is currently being created for the CHIN website.

Projects 2010/11
As we were all aware, CHIN is moving away from the collections enrichment projects.  This year’s projects will be focused on creating an online toolkit that will be available on the professional exchange.  The toolkits will include step-by-step instructions on how to use various technologies, such as a webinar on the creation and clean-up of collection records.  This is a departure from the enrichment projects, but will hopefully be something that museums from across the country can take advantage of.

Digital Heritage Symposium (Vancouver, Feb 2010)
CHIN hosted its first online symposium in February (review is available on my blog under February 2010), and it was a resounding success.  Partnering with the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia, the symposium had presenters from across Canada and around the world.  There were 90 attendees at MOA and over 80 online participants.  The webcast will be available online in May.
The webcast system was custom-built, and provided a solid connection for the two days with very technical questions or problems.  Online participants were able to submit questions and since it was online people from across the country were able to ‘attend’ without worrying about travel costs. 

Canada’s Got Treasures
In May (Museum month) a new website is going to be launched as part of the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) Experimental lab.  CHIN will be measuring results to see if the project translates into an increase in museum visitors.  It will be a web-based challenge and quiz aimed at young adults.  Using audio, video, images and research, national “treasures” will be profiled and users/visitors will be encouraged to share their own treasures in the same way using YouTube and Flickr.  From May to October new treasures will be broadcast weekly, and a map will provide geographic context for everything that is profiled.
The goals of the project are to increase the level of interest in museums among young adults, encourage engagement by the public and museums to respond to profiled ‘treasures’, encourage young adults to consider careers in museums, and to attract visitors to the VMC and local museums.

More information will be coming out about the project in mid-April, and promotional rack cards will be made available for distribution across the country.

Social Media in Canadian Museums
CHIN sampled 270 cultural institution managers from around the world to determine how museums are using social media.  They have determined that the following six networks are the most popular for cultural organizations: Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, My Space and LinkedIN.  In Canada, My Space and LinkedIN are less popular with museums, and social networking is used predominantly for event promotion.  Interestingly, Canada has the most online video watchers in the world. 
CHIN’s top five tips for museums considering engaging in social networking activities are to learn from what other museums are doing, determine what you are trying to achieve, participate in activities such as museumfactmonday on twitter, keep social media alive by engaging with your public, and think about your institutional voice.

PMA Follow-Up Report - Part 1

Ottawa & Gatineau, March 24-26, 2010

Provincial Museum Association staff were once again invited to meet with federal heritage agencies to discuss issues and compare notes on the national museum community.  The meetings began on March 24th at the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) in Ottawa, where invitees met with CCI and Canadian Museum Association (CMA) staff.  The following two days were spent at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec with Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) staff.  As in previous years, the meetings were very well attended, with representatives from every province and territory except for the Northwest Territories. 

As with all federal departments CCI is about to undergo a government evaluation to determine its relevancy and cost-effectiveness, a process which has raised several questions:
What would museums do without CCI?
How do we rate the benefits of CCI, and the level of importance of its services?
How can CCI improve?

CCI has been moving its focus towards risk assessments, including integrated pest management, cold storage of vhs tapes and media migration, facility assessments and scientific services.  The famous framework poster is currently being revised, and a 10th agent of deterioration has been added – dissociation.  This includes things like missing labels, lack of succession planning, etc.  It will also incorporate ASHRAE guidelines, and sustainability will be considered for each agent of deterioration.  The new poster should be ready by the end of the year.

They have been piloting a risk assessment program that consists of staff conducting site visits to help museums determine preventive conservation priorities.  A comprehensive report provides rational justification for priorities in language for business managers and funders.  Key elements of the pilot project include a scale for measuring the magnitude of risks, as well as providing a forecast of the magnitude of risk if nothing changes.  This uses the ABC model created by Stefan Michalski – how often or soon will something happen, how much loss per object, and how much of the collection is affected.  Prior to the site visit, staff review museum documentation, environmental factors, etc., and when on-site discuss other issues with staff to determine what parts of the collection or property are most at risk.  The report identifies treatment options and estimates the ABC model scores if recommendations are implemented.  There is also an estimate provided on the cost of treatment and the general cost-effectiveness of implementation over a period of time.

If you are looking for information on preservation, check out CCI’s website.  You can also subscribe to their e-news, which promotes learning opportunities and new resources on their website.  CCI has also just published its new magazine – Reflections on Conservation.  This is a bilingual magazine that profiles the work of CCI staff, upcoming learning opportunities, and provides insights on how to better care for museum collections.  A limited number will be available at the upcoming ANSM conference, and you can subscribe for free at CCI’s website.

CCI will be coming to Halifax for a workshop on Emergency Planning, hosted by the Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA).  The two-day workshop will be held at the Provincial Archives of NS in mid-June.  Stay tuned for more details and the finalized dates.

John McAvity and Monique Horth met with us to discuss CMA news.  Young Canada Works (YCW) is in decision-making mode, currently undergoing peer review.  Due to the number of proposals received every year and the lack of funding available, the CMA is only able to approve 8% of applications.  They hope to be able to take advantage of a $30 million increase in youth funding to provide more and longer internships for museums.

The annual CMA conference is taking place in St. John’s Newfoundland from May 11-14th, with the theme of Evolving Boundaries: linking people, place and meaning.  In 2011 the conference will be held in London, Ontario.  They are currently investigating the possibility of having some sessions available as webcasts.  Another conference taking place this year is the China Canada Conference, celebrating 40 years of trade relations.  This will be in Ottawa in October 13-14 and will have some focus on cultural activities.  Philanthropic groups have sponsored work exchanges between the countries, and the CMA is excited about promoting Canadian heritage in China.

Cultural Access passes are being given to new Canadians as part of their citizenship ceremony, and many of these ceremonies are moving from courthouses to museums.  The passes are available by application, and provide the new citizens with one year of free access to selected cultural institutions. 

International Museum Day is May 18th, in the middle of Museum month.  In addition to this, Culture Days will be taking place September 24-26th.  Inspired by Québec’s immensely successful Journées de la Culture, this is a volunteer movement to raise awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in their community’s arts and cultural activities.  The goal is to have a wide variety of free, interactive events across the country that everyone will be able to enjoy.  More information can be found online

Also, for those museums interested in sustainable development, an environmental sustainability toolkit has been created and is available for downloading from the CMA website.  

CHIN - Membership
Member services provided an overview of CHIN’s membership as of December 2009, and following is an overview of relevant Nova Scotian information:
·         1422 members in Canada
·         99 members in NS
o       5th highest in the country
·         50 contributing members in NS
o       3rd highest in the country
·         4 new members from NS in 2009
·         13 potential members in NS
o       these groups are in the middle of the membership application process
·         2 museums participating in Community Memories projects, neither having participated before

CHIN received 6% of all its inquiries from Nova Scotia, and two-thirds of all inquiries were related to Community Memories and Artefacts Canada.

If you have participated in Community Memories but did not opt to have your exhibit translated, CHIN will pay for this to be done.  As a national website, it is expected to be fully bilingual, so remember to pick the bilingual option when you first apply.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

March 2010 Update

Renewal Contracts
Renewal contracts were due on January 31st.  If you haven’t sent yours in yet, it is absolutely imperative that you do so immediately.  Without a valid contract, services and support will not be delivered.  New sites are now coming on board, so don’t risk losing your spot to someone on the waiting list.

ANSM Spring Conference - April 22-24
The annual ANSM spring conference is fast-approaching.  The early bird deadline for registration is April 8th (envelopes postmarked by the 8th qualify as early bird).  This year we’ll be in Pork Hawkesbury at the Civic Centre, with the theme of sustainability.  There will be a variety of sessions, including community partnerships, the provincial heritage strategy, and operation of heritage buildings.  There will be several networking opportunities as well, which are covered by the registration cost when you register for the full conference.  Check out the website for more information.

Remember too that the ITCMAC’s dinner meeting will be held prior to the Wine & Cheese on Thursday at 5pm at the Maritime Inn.  If you would like to attend please let me know.

ANSM Website – Resources Section
The database manuals and appendices are now online.  Sample forms, policies and other documentation will be available by the end of April.  If you are in need of a specific piece of documentation please let me know and I will do my best to get one into template format for the website.

CHIN/CCI Provincial & Territorial Association Meetings
Anita and Karin spent a week in Ottawa meeting with CHIN, CCI, CMA, and provincial/territorial museum association representatives.  This gives ANSM staff a chance to sit down face to face with our funders, stakeholders, and peers from across the country and discuss a wide variety of museum-related issues.  The PMA follow-up report will be posted on the blog by the end of the week, so be sure to check back for a review of the sessions.

New Site
March also saw the arrival of our newest member, the Mount Hanley and District Schoolhouse Museum.  Located just outside of Middleton, the community was the home of Joshua Slocum prior to his family's move to Brier Island.  Another noteworthy student was Clara Belle Marshall, who in 1884 became the first woman to graduate from Acadia University.  Entirely volunteer-run, the museum has evolved from a school to a family-operated museum to the community museum it is today.  The group is very excited about becoming more active in the Nova Scotia museum community, and look forward to meeting their colleagues at the upcoming southwest regional meeting in Liverpool.

Artefacts Canada Tally
Instead of mentioning the actual numbers this month, I am issuing a challenge to 3 regions.  The Southwest region has held the top spot for quite awhile now.  So, I hereby challenge the Cape Breton, Central, and Northeast regions to redouble their uploading efforts and catch up with the Southwest.

Regional Meetings / Equipment Delivery
Don't forget about the upcoming regional meetings.  For those of you who will be receiving webcams, I am bringing these to the regional meetings so that you will be set up for Skype before the summer season.

Cape Breton - St. Peter's, April 10th
Southwest - Liverpool, April 16th
Central - Dartmouth, May 7th
Northeast - TBA

Blog Polls
As previously mentioned, the next ITCMAC meeting is on April 22nd, which means the blog poll will be closing on the 21st in order for results to be discussed at the meeting.  We’ve had very few people weigh in on this issue, and this information is needed to complete the Online Marketing Report & Recommendations as part of our SDI deliverables, so it is absolutely imperative that you vote in this poll.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to vote, and remember that you should check off all applicable responses.