Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 2010 Update

ITCM & Training Committee Meeting
Several members from both committees met on June 9th to discuss how Passage will evolve into a core advisory service of ANSM.  Discussions will continue over the next two months or so as we prepare to submit the SDI proposal at the end of August.  As ANSM continues to move forward, we’re excited to see how we can build on the success of Passage and offer assistance to even more museums.

ANSM Website – Resources Section
A few more sample forms and resources have been added to the ANSM website over the past month.  Now available online are a Gift Agreement, an Incident Report for Collection or Property, Loan Agreements (incoming and outgoing), and a Temporary Receipt.  Under the Management section, we have added an Intern Evaluation Form, Performance Appraisal for Employees, and Exit Interview Form

This is still a work in progress, so I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who will be customizing any of these forms for use at their museum or has a request for a specific form or policy to be available online.

Site Visits
June was a busy month for site visits.  I visited 11 museums – Acadian House Museum, Antigonish Heritage Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm, Fultz House, Hector Exhibit Centre, North Highlands Community Museum, Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, Port Hastings Museum, Scott Manor House, and/et les Trois Pignons Centre Culturel.

My office days have been pretty busy, but I will be posting pictures and tidbits of info from my travels in the near future, so stay tuned. 

Internet Marketing Report & Recommendations
One of our funding deliverables for the year was to compile a report on internet marketing, with recommendations on how museums can take advantage of available options.  A draft report has been completed and circulated to the Itchy Committee for review and discussion.  It will be available on the ANSM website once the review process is complete.

To anyone who receives MUSE magazine, look for an article on Social Media demographics written by my friend and colleague Katie Urban of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.  It’s a fascinating look at who is engaging in conversations with Canadian museums in various social media platforms.

News from Richard
As I'm talking to people I often get questions about how my predecessor Richard Cloutier is doing out in Alberta.  I happened to be speaking with him this morning and he mentioned his museum's new children's area.  In true Richard fashion, he suggested I share a photo and let people see how the museum is reaching out to engage younger audiences:

As I mentioned on the phone here are some photos of the Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery’s children’s play area. They have mandated that they will have a play area consistent with the theme of the rotating exhibit. In this case we had an exhibit called ‘What the World Eats’ a photo essay of food consumed by families in one month from around the world. In tune with that we added ‘What Red Deer Eats’ to the show and set up the play area as a kitchen and grocery store. It was a big hit. The next exhibit is a clothing show and I believe the area will be turned into a store where kids can try on clothes from eras past. We also hope to hook up a computer so kids can do an online fashion program from one of the larger museums out there.

I know we are not a typical community museum but it shows attention for the younger audience and I am sure it could be downsized and still be effective. Up until last year they used the good ole tickle trunk. Just a thought to be shared however.

Richard Cloutier
Heritage Information Consulting

Blog Poll
Just a reminder to everyone that our current poll is asking about your database needs.  As I’ve mentioned in past posts, we have been reviewing our current system and considering alternative options.  Your input is needed.  Please vote. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Membertou 400 Halifax Pow-Wow

This past weekend was an exciting one in Halifax.  As Ryan blogged about last week, it is the 400th anniversary of the Mi'kmaq Grand Chief Membertou's baptism and a variety of activities were planned to mark the occasion.

From Friday through Sunday, a Mawiomi (Pow-Wow) was held on the Halifax Commons.  It featured a cultural village with demonstrations in basketry, quill work, storytelling, and games (to list a few).  People could sample traditional Mi'kmaq food and check out the marketplace where First Nations artisans were selling their wares and explaining to visitors how and why their craft is made.  On the other side of the Commons was a concert venue where a number of artists performed, including Buffy Sainte-Marie and Shane Yellowbird.

The Mawiomi had several MCs, two of which were from the Prairies.  These men remarked several times on the friendliness and hospitality of Nova Scotians, one saying that he had yet to meet a grouchy person in Nova Scotia.  It was also noted that the crowds were much larger than anticipated, requiring the expansion of the Mawiomi circle so that more people could see and experience the event.  Media reports stated that it was the largest Pow-Wow ever held in the Maritimes.  First Nations representatives were on hand from across the country and there is already talk of hosting another Pow-Wow next year.  

There was a strong sense of pride and fun in the weekend activities.  It was very clear that everyone, whether participant or spectator, thoroughly enjoyed the event.  Many people were saying that they had never seen their culture celebrated in such a large way.  

While the photos don't do justice to the atmosphere, I hope that you'll enjoy a taste of the celebrations.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sharing our Stories

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a museum guide to internet marketing.  This has involved a lot of reading and a lot of thinking about museum stuff and stories that can be shared through social media.  One thing that recently popped into my head was something I’ve heard several times at conferences and events.  Apparently, almost all museum workers can pinpoint the memorable moment in their life (almost always around the age of 7) where they fell in love with heritage.  So that got me thinking.  Wouldn't it be cool to document and share those stories?  That of course led me to wondering what my moment was.

Surprisingly, it was very easy to recall.  My moment was at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal.  I distinctly remember looking down from the top of the earthworks at an archaeological dig.  I asked my dad what the people were doing, he explained it to me, and that was it.  I was hooked.  I had to go home and start digging (luckily I stumbled upon a midden at the back of our property or I would have been sorely disappointed).

The thrill of discovering something, whether while digging or wandering through a museum, has never left me.  Not only are there some very nifty objects in our Nova Scotian collections, but there are a surprising number of unassuming, everyday items that have amazing stories.  Have you seen the crucifix in LaHave that was coughed up by a codfish?  What about the purse at the Army Museum that was fashioned from a sash worn by a soldier at the Battle of Waterloo?  Did you know that there's a letter opener in Barrington made from a man's rib?  Don't worry, he gave it freely.  The point is that at first glance there is nothing extraordinary about these objects, but the story of each one is very memorable and sure to get a reaction from the audience.

As I've been conducting site visits this season I've asked museums about their interesting stories, and I think it's time that we have a bit of fun with the fact that nothing is as it seems.

So what was your magic moment?  What are the unique stories that need to be told?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Canadian Museums Association Conference, St. John's NL

St. John’s, Newfoundland, May 11-14, 2010

This year’s CMA conference was held in the lovely city of St. John’s.  The theme was intangible cultural heritage, which is very appropriate for Newfoundland and Labrador

PMA Meeting
Since the provincial association staff members rarely get to see each other, we kicked off the conference with a little meeting to find out how everyone else is doing.  While not everyone could attend, representatives from six provinces and territories were at the table with CMA reps John McAvity, Monique Horth and John Tupper.

Alberta reported that they are moving forward with the Getty and University of Alberta partnership to bring the Getty’s leadership program to Canada.  This would be a week-long residency, accepting 25 people per year, that focuses on intensive development of leadership skills.  Participants receive a certificate from the Getty at the end of the week.  The cost is still to be determined, but will likely be around $1500.  They also reported that the provincial budget saw their budget cut by 13.75%.  They were able to keep staff and programs, but are operating in a more limited way.  Their conference will be September 23-25 in Edmonton.

New Brunswick will be having its conference October 13-15 in Saint John.  They have a part-time employee now who handles communications for the AMNB and has been conducting member surveys.  With a provincial election slated for September 27, AMNB has been compiling advocacy packages for all parties and candidates in the hopes of raising the profile of heritage in the political scene.

Newfoundland & Labrador has just completed a 5-year strategic plan that takes a strong marketing slant.  A consulting company is currently redesigning the MANL website, and they have partnered with Memorial University in order to make sure all member museums can be found on Google maps.

Ontario’s equivalent to the CMAP program is also under review at the moment, along with all other heritage programs.  It seems that we are in a very similar situation, as museums are calling for a more robust process with better feedback and more strict rules for participation.  While the outcome is not yet certain, there is a possibility that some museums may be cut from the program.  Their conference is in October, during which they will have a day at Queen’s Park to promote museums to their politicians.  They have also finished a 3-year strategic plan and conducted a member survey.

The Yukon has just completed a 5-year plan for working with museums on marketing, which includes the Territorial marketing department providing social media training to museums.  They are working with arts groups to develop cultural bus tours, with the pilot project taking place in Whitehorse.  They are also working on a passport program that will have visitors swiping cards so the association can collect data on visitor trends.

The CMA is currently in year two of its 5-year strategic plan, and is undergoing its 5-year audit by Canadian Heritage.  They are working on a new website, and recently conducted a salary study which will be released in January 2011.  In terms of advocacy, they are recommending an overhaul of the Museum Assistance Program, and want to establish a new museum sponsorship fund which would have the government matching dollar for dollar of donations.  Hill Day will be held November 22-23.  This is when museum professionals and advocate go to Ottawa to meet with and discuss issues with politicians. 

Intangible Cultural Heritage Panel
Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is transmitted from generation to generation and is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, interaction with nature, and history.  It provides groups with a sense of identity.  UNESCO has identified five domains in which ICH is manifested: oral traditions and expressions, performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship.  Not included in ICH are contemporary arts such as dance and theatre, as well as folkloric manifestations or oral traditions that are no longer alive, and arts & crafts.

Intangible Cultural Heritage is important because it provides practicing groups with a sense of identity and continuity, therefore the practicing of the traditions is integral.  There are many threats to ICH in the current world, such as globalization, migration, and assimilation policies.  There is also a lack of means and appreciation or understanding of ICH, particularly in the younger generation, which is leading to an erosion of functions and values.

The purpose of the UNESCO Convention (adopted in 2003 and ratified in 2006) is to safeguard, ensure respect, raise awareness, and provide for international cooperation.  The Convention seeks to ensure the viability of ICH, fostering the continuous recreation and transmission of knowledge and practices through the recognition of the associated groups.  To date, 130 countries have signed the convention and are contributing to an ICH fund.  Canada has not signed.

The Urgent Safeguarding List asks parties to submit nominations for ICH elements that are facing imminent disappearance.  There is also a Register of Good Practices that provides a platform for sharing ideas on how to safeguard ICH. 

The Intangible Cultural Heritage States Party is essentially a league of nations that have signed the convention.  They have been tasked with ensuring the safeguarding of ICH, identifying and defining elements of ICH, and creating an inventory.  They have adopted a general policy to promote ICH and are fostering studies with the widest possible participation of communities and groups.

As heritage organizations we must ask ourselves how we can represent ICH without objectifying it, while still maintaining links between the displayed objects and their associated ICH. 

Dr. Richard Kurin of the Smithsonian spoke of how that organization approaches the intangible.  As he put it, “we’ve tried to document what was, before it is “was””.  To do this, they’ve hosted a folklife festival to let cultural groups and people speak for themselves.  The Smithsonian is not the end, but the means by which culture can be celebrated in a real way.  Gerald Pocius of Memorial University is conducting his ICH work in Newfoundland as though Canada had signed the Convention.  He has seen a shift from the museum as authority to community forum as all activities should begin with the community.  Curators operate as community advocates; curators of knowledge, not things.  Laurier Turgeon of Laval University sees a growing interest in living cultures.  Society is moving from the 1950s heritage regime in sites, authenticity, and conservation of things to a regime of people, performances and the transmission of knowledge.  We are now documenting material culture through oral histories.  Cultural institutions are discovering that famous artist exhibits are less popular than the sharing of local stories and traditions.  Museums should be using new technologies to capture and transmit ICH, such as a multimedia database that can be used for virtual exhibits, 3D dioramas, guided tours, etc.  Most importantly, once the information is captured it has to be returned to the community from whence it came.

Objects on Shelves and Cultures that won’t stand still
In a 2001 grand proposal to the Canadian Foundation of Innovation, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia stated that “collaborative museology is founded on the believe that originating communities should have a major voice in shaping research questions, and should benefit from the new knowledge produced.”  The first step was to create a memorandum of understanding between MOA and first nations groups of BC.  Both sides view this as a lifelong arrangement, and while it is legally legless, it is very morally and ethically strong.  In studying objects, they are viewed as instigators of events and are classified by indigenous systems, focusing on their function and use in ceremonies.  The project allows young native artists to easily research their cultural heritage and bring the knowledge back home to the community.

The culmination of the project is the Reciprocal Research Network (RRN) (, a website that connects geographically dispersed communities with their geographically dispersed material culture.  Google Earth is used to mark the originating community.  The museum has positioned itself as a neutral space for the display and research of objects, storing helpful knowledge for the community.  The RRN website provides users with the ability to carry on research and work at home and according to their own schedule.  It also allows users to add information or ask questions about the objects, operating as a true community forum.

Plenary – Wade Davis
Wade Davis works for the National Geographic Society as an “explorer-in-residence”, which he freely admits is an oxymoron.  He spoke of his experiences as an anthropologist, learning about different societies and their way of life.  He was quick to point out that while colonial Europe focused on technological innovations as being important, other cultures focused on oral histories and memory capacity.  As globalization continues, we are losing this variety of knowledge, along with the languages in which it was traditionally shared.  He cautions that this is a dangerous trend and as heritage organizations we must do what we can to preserve this traditional knowledge.  He has written a book on the subject called Wayfinders.

Development of Stories
In order to build passion and commitment for the museum in your own community, the museum’s vision must resonate with the people.  The museum must position itself as a hub for diverse voices, a centre for debate where people can become involved and empowered.  As such, the museum can tap into greater diversity, and new skills and knowledge, overcoming preconceived notions.  In order to achieve this, the museum must lead cultural change to embrace public participation and collaboration with community-based groups.  We need to overcome our nervousness about being in control at all times.

The goal of such activities is to collect local while thinking about the global context.  Build community by celebrating the full history, using the museum as a welcoming community and social space.  Look beyond the institution walls to what is happening and connect with the entire community.  One way to do this is to have a kids collection on display, where children can bring in interesting items to obtain points.  This is essentially a trading post, because as children bring in an item, the more information they can tell the staff person about it, the more points they get.  All objects are rated, and so if a child has something worth 5 points, they can trade their object for another object in the kids collection worth 5 points.  This way there is an ever-changing display of what the community’s children view as being important and interesting, and the children see the museum as a fun place.

In looking for partners to create broader community initiatives, don’t assume that they will go along with you.  It is absolutely imperative to talk with these groups before a project is started.  For instance, one museum in Philadelphia identified local artists who were interested in trading studio space for teaching kids about various art media and techniques.

From a funding perspective, the impediments to transformative change can be economic, political, or simply related to timing.  Museums must build their constituency up before building out, and understand the funder’s needs and problems.  In asking for funding, focus on how you can help the funder move an agenda forward or solve a recognized problem.  Governments want to see success immediately and are risk averse, so link to their policies for a better argument.  They want to be in line with the public wants and needs, so focus on incremental work that will be sustainable and welcomed by the community.  In dealing with funders one should expect resistance to change and manage it.  Nurture and educate your stakeholders to see the benefits of embracing new, exciting, and better ways of working.  Communication barriers are often difficult, but don’t be afraid to ask for or offer extra clarification to ensure that both sides are understood.

Plenary – Future for Museums?
Is there a future for museums?  Studies show that museums must present contemporary issues in an unbiased, non-partisan and engaging manner instead of focusing solely on the past.  This panel discussed societal trends and how museums need to respond to these trends.

Demographically speaking, society is shifting.  We are a graying population, and within 25 years 1 in 4 Canadians will be over the age of 65.  This means that there will be a strain on government for medical, retirement, and associated obligations.  So what is the future of museums with such important economic demands on funding?  On the plus side, there is a dramatic increased in older adults entering peak years of museum engagement, but this will require a shift in how museums traditionally engage this age group.

Another trend we see is what some call a “reverse gender gap”, meaning that women in their 20s are 50% more likely to have a post-secondary degree than men.  This means that they are single for a longer period of time, and fewer children are being born to young parents.  There is also the changing face of society to consider.  In the US, the population is currently 65% white, while 88% of museum visitors are white.  Within 25 years the white population will drop to 54%.  In Canada, by 2031 33% of Canadians will be a visible minority, so what are museums doing to reflect the various cultures and groups in our communities.

Parks Canada has recognized the above shifts, and are undergoing a paradigm shift to address these facts.  After conducting audience research, they are now proactively targeting individuals and organizations in a strategic and focused approach to figure out how to increase appreciation in the national parks system.

The final panelist was Marc Mayer, who made a few predictions about how museums will exist in the future.  While much of his talk was light-hearted and received laughs from the audience, there was a lot of truth to his words.  He suggested that since people are increasingly living in a 2-dimensional world, we will see an escape to 3D.  There will be a rise of for-profit specialized museums, and an increase in museum membership by Canadians.  There will be an increase in relevancy, with guest curators from diverse communities, and broad stories told through local or other specific lenses.

Doers & Dreamers
As we’re all aware social media is huge and museums can add some great education content to discussions and use the forums to learn more about their collections and how to better meet audience needs and expectations.  At the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), they have embraced social media and have garnered a large following in the process, expanding their previous audiences.  They liken social media to jazz in that once you learn the skillset you can improvise and excel.  Moderation of online forums then shifts to being responsive rather than authoritarian.

What the AGO discovered is that the simpler, the better.  After spending $6000 to create a video for their first YouTube experiment, no one was interested in the video.  As a second experiment they brought in a local hiphop artist to show how to “tut” as a promotion for their King Tut exhibit.  It didn’t cost anything, and was immensely successful. 
The information from this session has been incorporated into the ANSM’s new internet marketing report & recommendations that will be released in the near future.  It is hoped that this document will help museums navigate the online world and figure out how they can use it to their advantage.

Another way that museums can enhance their interpretation is through the use of augmented reality.  This is a new technology that merges the real and virtual worlds.  For example, the Ontario Science Centre has a fog screen that displays digital content that can be touched and even walked through.  Living postcards is another new feature, which allows people to embed video files on a coded card to send to relatives or friends as a postcard.  Why write when you can send a video message instead?  In the future it is highly likely that we’ll see more visualization and crowd sourcing strategies, as well as more natural interfaces.  This will have broad application in the humanities and fine arts fields.

Plenary – Jeffrey Simpson
At every CMA conference there is a plenary session with a speaker who is not from the museum field, and whose task it is to offer an outsider’s view.  Jeffrey Simpson is the Globe & Mail’s national affairs correspondent, and spoke largely about the Canadian identity.

Canada will succeed better if it knows itself more and is more interconnected with the rest of the world.  We face the typical challenge of small countries, whereas all politics are local, most issues we face are global.  There is a need for public display of creations that incorporates the mystic chords of memory which are not often heard.  While we may have struggled with this in the past, things have improved in certain areas since the creation of the CBC and cultural knowledge “renewal” of the 1960s.  We need to maintain a sense of place.  Each year we bring in the most new immigrants to our shores on a per capita basis in the world.  This elasticity of acceptance makes it easier for immigrants to assimilate quickly. 

Our story is one of tolerance, and isn’t this a much better history to share than the violent histories of so many other nations?  We have a very political history of which interpretation and re-interpretation is often controversial and constantly taking place.  Canada was a political construct, not based on unity but as a way of preserving the British colonies from the United States.

Canada needs more of the world.  We need a better understanding for and appreciation of cultures as well as deepened contacts that will allow us to do business in a wider range of places.  For museums, it’s time for a reality check.  In the present climate, more money is not coming, so the best that can be hoped for is the status quo.  Overseas tourism is not looking good in the short-term, so we have to work harder at being in the world and bringing our information to the world.

Cultivating Collections Responsibly
Traditionally, curators collected what they were interested in.  The 1990s saw a shift in attitudes and museums began to develop collection plans and research projects.  They recognized that the collection is for the benefit of the public.  For the Canadian Agriculture Museum (CAM), the mandate is to introduce science and technology to Canadians.  To do this, they require benchmark artifacts that show the technological progression of agricultural practices.  This includes examples of trade literature and period print that portrays agricultural practices.  In order to best meet their mandate, they conducted a collection development project.

In creating a collection development plan, several key analyses must be done.  The first is a historical assessment or intellectual framework.  This is a major research project that lays the groundwork for understanding the scope and key areas related to the museum’s mandate.  For CAM, factors included in the study were geography, development, associated science and research, and labour.  For other museums, the focus may be more on the social history context, using primary and secondary sources to make local connections. If you are a large institution, this work is often done on a contract basis by post-doctoral students or professors on sabbatical.  For smaller museums, the study can be broken into sections as time and resources allow instead of studying everything at once.  The nice thing about this kind of a project is that the research can be reworked into a variety of other documents and communications, not to mention exhibit text.

The second step to a collection development plan is to do a collection assessment.  This is another research document that connects objects in the collection to the findings of the historical assessment.  It places the object(s) in the context of the technology that preceded and followed.  This is a description of the ideal, focusing on key pieces and support materials.  Using an annotated list, identify each object and justify its inclusion in the ideal collection.  Once the existing collection is analyzed, the curator reviews the collection to ensure that all technologies mentioned in the historical assessment are represented in the collection.  Where duplication exists, artifacts are assessed based on completeness, condition, and degree of provenance.

The third step is to create an acquisition proposal that aims to shape the ideal collection, filling the holes that were discovered during the previous two steps.  Comparing the existing collection to the idea collection, comparisons can be made, and priorities and strategies can be developed.  Considerations for acquisition should include whether or not the object fits the collection requirements, has its original integrity, has documented provenance, and whether or not the museum has the resources to care for it.  Acquisition is often tied to deaccessioning due to space requirements.  As the project continues, tension will become evident between objects of great value and insignificant objects with little relevance.

The goal of any museum is to have a collection of objects and documents that reflect the mission and mandate of the museum, and be used to tell related stories and foster understanding and engagement.  It must be properly cared for, documented and made accessible to the public.  Collections management should be the combination of intelligent collecting and thoughtful pruning.  The collection should be dynamic, undergoing a continuous process of acquisition, management, and renewal.

The challenges in such projects include finding specialized researchers to do the job, and being able to pay them a reasonable wage.  This is not a full-time job, and research funds are often difficult to come by.  While some organizations rely on students or volunteers, the quality of this work can sometimes be questions.  At a board or senior staff level, there may also be resistance to undertake such a project as it may challenge the fundamental mission and operations of the museum.

In order to make the process easier, check and see if applicable research already exists.  Considering partnering with students, interns, and volunteers to better train them on how to complete the project, but if at all possible a professional researcher should be hired.  In terms of the time involved, be committed to moving forward and be sure to get the support of the board and management.  Time should be built into work plans for collection development.  Identify manageable sections and coordinate the work with other collections-based activities.

Recommended reading:
Collection Conundrums: Solving Collections Management Mysteries by Rebecca A. Buck and Jean Allman Gilmore
Doon Heritage Village Collection Plan

Study Tour – Colony of Avalon, Ferryland
For those who haven’t spent a lot of time in the St. John’s, there is a remarkable archaeological site and interpretive centre about an hour south of the city.  The Colony of Avalon was one of the first permanent English settlements in North America, established in 1621 by Sir George Calvert who later became Lord Baltimore.  A wealth of material culture continues to be excavated from the site, which is processed and treated in the on-site conservation lab or at Memorial University’s archaeology lab.  Visitors can walk along the 17th century cobblestone street and watch the dig, check out what artifacts are being worked on in the lab, and see the display of finds in the visitor centre. 

For a small community, the site has become a staple in their economy.  The Colony of Avalon Foundation’s annual budget is twice that of the town of Ferryland.  The gift shop is of particular interest as it raises 50% of their operating budget.  While this is an amazing statistic, on visiting it is easy to understand why it’s so successful.  The shop is filled with locally made reproductions of ceramics, jewelry and other objects from the archaeological site, as well as other locally produced items that are totally unique.  Buying something from the gift shop means that the visitor has a real souvenir of this particular site, something they couldn’t get anywhere else.  Of course, postcards, books and the like are also available.  For breakable items, the gift shop will ship items (provided the visitor will pay the shipping costs), scheduling the arrival with the end of vacation if necessary.

CMA Awards Banquet
Congratulations again to the Creamery Square Association for their CMA award in facility development.  

Here’s project manager Colin Fowlie accepting the award.

May 2010 Update

CMA Conference
Anita and Karin both attended the CMA annual conference in St. John’s Newfoundland.  It was a great time, and Nova Scotia was well represented.  Bill Greenlaw, Executive Director of the Heritage Division, participated in several sessions as a presenter, moderator and panelist.  Also, Dorothy Outhouse (Islands Museum), Rodney Chaisson (NS Highland Village), Maggie MacIntye  (Nova Scotia Museum), Stephanie Smith (Nova Scotia Museum), Jane Arnold (Beaton Institute) and Richard MacKinnon (Cape Breton University) were all presenters, panelists or moderators.

My conference notes will be posted online this week along with a few more pictures from the conference. 

ANSM Website – Resources Section
It’s been in the works for awhile now, and I am very pleased to announce that the promised Sample Forms and Polices are now online.    The collections-related forms that are now online are a Documentation Flowchart, Artist Report, Catalogue Worksheet, Donor Questionnaire, Manufacturer Report, Oral History Agreement, Pre-Acquisition Review Form and Reproduction Rights Agreement.  Aside from the flowchart, all forms are MS Word doc files that can be downloaded and customized with your own letterhead and adjusted to meet your individual needs.
More forms and polices will be added over the coming weeks and months, but if you don’t see what you need, let me know and she’ll do her best to help you out.  Feedback is very welcome.

Site Visits
‘Tis the season to travel.  I am once again on the road conducting site visits, and spent the last week of May in the southwest region visiting the Cape Sable Historical Society, Tuna Sport Fishing Museum, Admiral Digby Museum, and the Islands Museum.  I also managed to squeeze in a TIANS workshop on Social Media for Tourism Operators (see my workshop notes in the blog archive) and the TIANS AGM.
I am actively working on scheduling my summer travel, so if you would like to request a specific day or week please let me know.

Regional Meetings
The last spring regional meeting was for the Central (formerly HRM) regional group at the Alderney Gate Library on May 7th
If you don’t attend your regional meetings I strongly encourage you to do so.  Not only are they great networking opportunities, but this is where ideas are shared and advocacy is coordinated.  The groups typically meet twice a year, in the spring and fall.  Reminders about upcoming meetings are posted on the regional heritage listservs.  If you aren’t subscribing to the listservs, contact Penny Harvey and ask to be added to the Cape Breton, HRM, Northeast, or Southwest listserv. 

Blog Poll
You’ll notice that the blog has been slightly changed over the past week.  Since IT & Collections Management Services (Passage) is a service of ANSM, I have removed the list of members since ANSM has a list of members of our website.  So the poll feature has been moved to the right side of the blog. 

For the most recent poll, I asked you how you market your museum online.  19 people responded to the question, and here are the results:
1. Website 100%
2. CHIN (Artefacts Canada, Community Memories) 73%
3. Facebook 31%
4. Twitter 21%
5. YouTube 21%
6. Wikipedia 10%
7. Blog 5%
8. Flickr 5%

Thanks to everyone who voted as this information will be incorporated into ANSM’s Internet Marketing for Museums Report & Recommendations.

Our new poll is about our database system.  As many of you know, we have been looking at the database system with IT consultants to determine whether it is meeting our needs, how much longer it can be used, and what other database options are available.  To that end, it is very important that each of you respond to this poll.