Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012 Update

Collections Managers in training
Collections Management Workshop 
Our second workshop of the year was at the Whitney Pier Historical Museum. We had a full house with a great group of people from across the province. I saw a few light bulb moments in participants over the two days, and the homework assignment and evaluation surveys suggest that things went all right. We covered the role of collections, ethics, legalities, policies & procedures, care & handling, intellectual property, teaching collections, deaccessioning, insurance, acquisition, appraisals, loans, accessioning, documentation, floor plans, storage, databases, inventory, photodocumentation and online access. Phew! It was a lot of info to absorb in just two days, so kudos to all who attended. What troopers!

Database Renewal & Website Info
This is the first summer that everyone will be working in the new database, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of progress can be made in such a user-friendly system. I have been setting up new accounts for summer staff, answering collections management questions, and setting up site visits. Record numbers are still fluctuating, but we're definitely adding a lot more than we're removing.
So how many object records & images do we have now? 575 records and 1,051 images were added in May, which puts us at 173,787 records and 49,699 images. Here's what this means regionally:
Southwest: 85,959 artifacts, 21,163 images
Central: 35,705 artifacts, 11,314 images
Northeast: 29,726 artifacts, 13,010 images
Cape Breton: 22,397 artifacts, 4,212 images

Congrats to the Central region for adding the most records, and Cape Breton for adding the most images this month!

Please remember to follow museum standards when entering your new information. The Nomenclature book gives you the object name & categories. There are many fields in the database for a reason. Do not put colour, quantity, descriptive information, names of people in the photograph, etc etc etc in the object name field.
Hint: if you have 3 or more words in your object name field you've done something wrong.
If you have questions about data entry, collections management, conservation, or anything else, please call me. Also, remember to review your summer students' work!

Christening Dress
Antigonish Heritage Museum
Your image of the month comes from the Antigonish Heritage Museum and is in honour of our textiles project. The scale might be positioned a bit strangely, and there are a couple wrinkles in the fabric, but look at how nicely the white christening dress jumps out at you. It is in its natural position on a form that lets us understand how it would have been worn. There is no confusion between the contrasting background fabric and any part of the dress. We can see edges and stitching detail (although you'd still want to get a couple close-up shots). The dress is turned slightly to the right so you can see some of the side, and the camera is angled to see some of the shoulder top details as well.
The important thing about this kind of photography is to proceed carefully and cautiously. Setting up mannequins, positioning objects, and figuring out lighting for your studio space takes time. But when the finished product makes you sit back and say "wow that's a great shot!", it is well worth the extra time and effort.

Summer Textiles Project
As you've all now read, Hope is here for the summer and we've put her to work. So far she's photographed objects, worked in databases, helped with a workshop, prepared data for migration, and done lots of planning & prep work for her big summer task - the textiles project. Since we have a limited amount of time and resources, she will be focusing her efforts on museums with large textile (clothing) collections, assisting with the photography of the clothing items and training museum staff/volunteers to continue the work. Her research project will be to come up with a how-to guide that museum staff/volunteers can use to further assist in digitization efforts.
To prepare for this project Hope conducted a database survey to find out who has the most textiles, and the top 10 sites have already been contacted. If time and resources allow, we will move beyond this limited list, but since it's a pilot project we want to tread carefully and not overload our poor intern.
Our goal is to add another 250 images of clothing items by the middle of August.

Site Visits
It's that time of year again, time to get on the road. Remember that you MUST have a permanent staff member or volunteer on-site for this visit. We have important things to discuss about the upcoming website and how your data will be presented. This is not a summer student task. I will also be taking five artifact photographs during the visit, just to boost our website images a bit more. This may not sound like much, but it will mean another 260 images for the website.
Since we have to coordinate visits for the summer textiles project, my summer schedule is not as flexible as usual. I have already begun scheduling visits, but if you have a particular day that you would like a visit (or blackout dates) then please feel free to put in a request. If you have questions about site visits please let me know. Otherwise, I will be in touch very soon.

Regional Meetings
Please note that the Central (HRM) regional group meeting has been moved to June 21st at 930am. Evergreen House (Dartmouth Heritage Museum) is still hosting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Museum Profile - NS Sport Hall of Fame

After a recent discussion with Tinisha at the NS Sport Hall of Fame, I asked if she would be interested in sharing her work with the rest of the province. Why? Because these guys are an example of how far a museum can come in a relatively short period of time. Tinisha was hired to do some clean up work, to get things organized. I am genuinely amazed at how much she and her team has accomplished and thought it would be worthwhile to share the story with the rest of the class. So without further ado, here is Tinisha:

What We’ve Being Doing These Last 2 Years – Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame

Since the summer of 2010 the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame has been undertaking a project to digitize its collection. The goal was to give every artifact record a photograph. At the start of the project, there were a little over 5000 catalogue records in the database and we believed that the entire collection had been accessioned and catalogued. 
After the project began, we realized that this was not true - the entire collection had not been accessioned and catalogued. This realization initiated an expansion in the number of catalogue records in the database and, consequently, the size and length of the project grew. Also, off-site storage needed to be reorganized and artifact location records had to be updated due to the relocation of the museum some years earlier.

Once we had inventoried the entire collection and digitized the majority of it, the number of database records exceeded 8000, equivalent to a collection growth of over 60 per cent.
This, however, was not an accurate reflection of the size of the collection. There were many duplicate records in the database. We are now working on reconciling these records, estimating that the total number of records/objects in the collection will be closer to 7000 when we are done.

The proper paperwork and policies had fallen out of use or out of date in the past. So, in 2010, proper paperwork such as deed of gift (donation) forms, loan forms, and policy and procedures were created or updated immediately to ensure all further paperwork was done properly and to national standards. Currently, we are also going through our old donation forms and catalogue worksheets to ensure that all the information from them was transferred to the database.

Our current goal is to have all the records reconciled and have an image attached to each in time for the estimated launch of the public database in September.

Other accomplishments to date include:
·         Improving artifact storage, increasing the safety of the artifacts (and staff)
·         Putting all photographs in archival plastic sleeves (about 40% collection is photographs)
·         Switching many of the exhibit lights to LEDs
·         Starting environmental monitoring (temp & humidity datalogger)

Other objectives for the summer include:
·         Testing out Google Maps and HistoryPin opportunities
·         Building education displays for our travelling education program
·         Creating new exhibits
·         Rehousing our textiles
·         Producing an Emergency Preparedness Plan

Do you have a really great project that you'd like to share with your colleagues? If so, drop me a line.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Introducing Ms. Wickett

Hello all! My name is Hope Wickett and I will be interning with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums from now until the end of the summer. This internship is a requirement, and counts as the final semester, of the post-graduate Museums Management and Curatorship (or MMC as we fondly call it) program at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario.

I am originally from Hamilton, Ontario a mid size city about an hour outside of Toronto. I lived in downtown Hamilton for all of my life until it was time to go to university. I have always been interested in theatre and history (specifically historical clothing) and I was lucky enough to find a combination of the two in the Costume Studies program at Dalhousie University here in Halifax. I completed my four year undergrad there and graduated with an Honours BA in Theatre specializing in Costume Studies.

During university I decided that in the future I wanted to work in museums instead of the theatre. I searched through many post-graduate programs and stumbled upon the MMC course that Fleming offers. It is a one year intensive immersion program that really allows students to work closely with collections and apply the lecture material. When the posting came up for this placement with the ANSM I jumped at the chance to come back to the East Coast, once Nova Scotia gets under your skin it doesn’t leave again! I am also looking forward to working closely with several textile collections and a photography kit to help update the database records (I forgot to mention that I am also a camera nut and worked in a photography store for four years).   

I did not get a chance to explore much outside of Halifax when I lived here before so this placement will be a great opportunity for me to get to know the province better. I am really excited to be working with everyone at the ANSM and look forward to meeting some of you during site visits with Karin over the course of the summer.