Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 2012 Update

Wow. End of June already?!

Provincial & Territorial Museums Association Meetings
Anita and I spent the first week of June in Ottawa for the annual PMA meetings. I am very gradually going through my notes and drafting a review of the meetings, so for now I will just say that everyone is feeling devastated by the recent cuts and there is great concern over what these will mean for the country's museums. Stay tuned for full coverage in my upcoming blog series.

Site Visits & Summer Textile Project

My summer life is always one of travelling, and so far I've visited 14 museums. I have another 16 site visits scheduled, and am working at scheduling the rest, so if you haven't heard from me yet, you will soon.
This year we're having a fairly casual visit, talking about the upcoming website, how your information will display in the site, and what you can do to further prepare. I am also bringing along my camera, tripod, & scale with the goal of photographing 5 more of your objects. It may not sound like much, but with over 50 sites this will give a decent boost of images for the collections website.

One of this month's site visits was to the Desbrisay Museum in Bridgewater, our newest Advisory Service member. I'm especially excited about their fantastic collection of folk art, but I know that as we build our working relationship there will be all sorts of discoveries of unique items and stories. Welcome aboard!

Hope & Irene working on a
Liverpool Police Uniform,
Queens County Museum
Hope is joining me on the road for some visits to take photographs for the textile project. Our plan was to work with the 10 largest textile collections, but after scheduling these and visiting the first 5, it looks like we'll be able to fit in a couple more. To date we've photographed 96 items and trained 11 people so they can continue the work. After the first couple of sites we figured out our routine and how to maximize our on-site efforts, and are very pleased with the amount of work that is being accomplished. Hope is also writing a how-to guide on textile photography, which will be available on our website, and ANSM members will be able to borrow our studio set-up as well.
This project is turning out to be a lot of fun, and we're seeing a great variety of clothing items come out of storage. Beautiful dresses, fancy uniforms, nifty's exciting to think about these items being showcased on the collections website.

Database & Website Info
I think amazement is the best word to describe the progress made by everyone this month. I knew the numbers would jump since sites were opening and summer staff were coming on board. But wow! Duplicate entries are being reconciled, new accessions are being added, and lots of images are being attached.
Ok, ready for that infamous overall count & regional tally? 8,096 records and 3,885 images were added this month!! Isn't that crazy!? I think everyone needs to just take a moment, applaud and pat themselves on the back. This is fantastic progress and gives us a grand total of 181,883 records and 53,584 images. And here's how that amazing progress breaks down by region:
Southwest: 94,849 artifacts, 22,361 images
Central: 34,650 artifacts, 11,623 images
Northeast: 29,740 artifacts, 14,942 images
Cape Breton: 22,644 artifacts, 4,658 images
Due to the addition of Desbrisay Museum, the Southwest added the most records this month, and congrats to the Northeast for adding almost 2,000 new images!

As I mentioned last month, and as I'm mentioning during site visits, it is absolutely crucial for you to review summer students' work and to ensure that every record you're entering follows museum standards. Do not give your students the curator level login info. They should have their own account so you can easier see what they have been doing. The website will have some quality control measures in place, but the more careful you are with your data entry & photography, the better off you'll look online. And if you or your students have any questions about the database, please please PLEASE call or email me! This will prevent a world of headaches.
Tobacco Can
Islands Museum
Your image of the month comes from the Islands Museum in Tiverton. Yup, that's a big ol' can of tobacco (empty). In addition to this being a nice photograph, I wanted to use it to remark on something I have noticed. When you are taking photos of 3-dimensional objects, remember to have them sitting in their natural position. I often see photos of bottles, cans, or other items that are laying down instead of sitting upright. So when you are setting up your artifact photograph, put the object down the way it was meant to sit. Take one overall image looking down on the object at an angle (something around 45 degrees tends to work well), and then you can look straight on or move the object so you can capture detail shots, back or side views, etc. But for your overall image, natural position is key.

Central Regional Heritage Group Meeting
We went to the CRHG meeting at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum and met with 12 other museum folks from across the Halifax Regional Municipality. Again there was a lot of talk about the cutting of the National Archival Development Program, the Parks Canada Atlantic Service Centre, and other programs and services. Then we switched to talk about upcoming anniversaries and commemorations and how heritage organizations can be working more together. One idea that is being pursued is that of Doors Open, which takes place in a number of other provinces but just hasn't yet happened in Nova Scotia.

IMAC Meeting 
The Information Management & Access Committee met on June 28th at the Colchester Historeum. We welcomed Gary from the Army Museum as our new Central Regional Rep, and said goodbye and thanks to Val who is leaving the committee for retirement. As usual, it was a jam-packed agenda with lots of talk about our upcoming website launch. The committee is actively involved in the design decisions and will be approving all of the written components as well. I must say, it's nice to have a supportive committee like this when we have so much going on.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Farewell to Mr. Collins

I rarely write tribute posts, and to date they've all been to people who have passed on. Fortunately this one is still very much alive and kicking. He's just retiring after 27 years of working with Nova Scotia's museum community.

When I first started working for ANSM, I was told that I should go and discuss the project with Paul. I wasn't entirely clear on why I had to talk to this man, but I knew he was part of the advisory committee that was overseeing the research project. Very quickly I learned that if you wanted the inside scoop, needed a sounding board, were trying to track someone down, wanted a travel buddy for regional meetings or long distance site visits, etc etc etc ad infinitum, Paul was the guy to talk to.

When Paul got up to say thanks and goodbye, he mentioned that he's been thinking about this for a long time but hadn't figured out what to say. I completely understand how he feels. I have long-since known that I'd have to write a blog post in honour of him when he retired, and I thought of a couple images to include in this post, but what to say... How can you put into words the contribution that he has made to the heritage sector? His accomplishments are too many to count, he has impacted the work of countless people and organizations, been a mentor to emerging professionals, an advocate for community engagement and small museums...

Paul shared that he felt very privileged to have worked with so many wonderful people, and to have had the opportunity to do something so worthwhile and enjoyable. I know I echo the sentiments of all his colleagues and community museums when I wish him all the best and many worthwhile and enjoyable opportunities and adventures in his retirement.