Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 2017 Update

Alexis & Nick
St. Mary's Bay Academy

We finished the last two performances at St. Mary's Bay Academy and Macdonald Museum late this month. What a fantastic tour it has been! Touchstones was an interactive experience that encouraged the audience to ponder questions about confederation and Nova Scotia's role in the development of Canada. Team building activities enhanced the performance and created a fun learning environment for all. Together, we celebrated the last 150 years and the stories of artifacts from museums across the province. The audience learned more about who inhabited the land throughout the years and the impact of things like: politics, industry, manufacturing, transportation, and sport & how each of these factors shaped the province. We want to thank Harry Bruce for his text, "An Illustrated History of Nova Scotia." It provided wonderful context for the narrative.

And, finally, the audience was asked to consider the impact that their own lives have on the cultural framework of Nova Scotia. They are currently shaping the next 150 years! What will the future hold? Follow us on InstagramFacebook, & Twitter for images & video footage of the show!

Thanks to the following museums and schools for hosting the performance:
Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum
Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre/Academy
Chestico Museum
Pugwash District High School
St. Mary's Bay Academy
Macdonald Museum 

A special thanks to our talented performers Alexis Milligan of Transitus & Nick Bottomley. As well as, Sean Skerry - graphic design, Lara Lewis - acknowledgment consultant, & Aaron Collier - sound design. And support from the 150 Forward Fund. This project would not have happened without your support and contributions.

Do you wish to view the top 150 artifacts that inspired the performance? Click here.


All SME reports have been sent out to sites outlining changes to marine artifacts, agricultural tools, and military insignia - check your inboxes!

There is now  289,471 artifacts documented with 151,745 associated images, which means that 185 new records and 2631 images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month - great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest -   126736 artifacts, 61406 images     
Central -  100146 artifacts, 42600 images      
Northeast -  33115 artifacts, 33016 images          
Cape Breton -  29474 artifacts, 14723 images

Congratulations to the Northeast region for adding 2061 images this month!

Tip of the Month

Sled (X.229) - Whitney Pier Historical
 Society Museum
Unsure how to photograph large, bulky items? Have you considered borrowing the photo kit? Lighting and backdrops included! Perfect for textiles, furniture, and more. Clear a work space in your museum to document larger items. Closed for the winter? Consider using space in your exhibit room if it offers more space and better lighting. Be creative! Slots for the photo kit are starting to fill up - reach out to me for availability! The photo kit is available for a three week period and must be picked up and dropped off at the ANSM office.

Contributor Galleries 
Exciting news! The myNovaMuse gallery feature is ready for Advisory Service sites on NovaMuse! Please check your emails for usernames and passwords. Want to learn how to create your first gallery of artifacts? - click here.

It's easy! 1) choose a theme for your gallery 2) name your gallery 3) add a description 4) add related items to your gallery

Example topics:
1) are there unknown individuals in photographs in your collection? Group them together in a gallery & ask the public to help identify unfamiliar faces
2) celebrate local manufacturing - group together artifacts from your area that are linked to the Made In Nova Scotia database
3) holiday coming up? Why not create a festive gallery! Check out the NovaMuse 'Tis the Season gallery for inspiration.

Your picks will show in Contributor Galleries under Featured Galleries on NovaMuse. The name of your museum will also be listed. Have fun creating and sharing content! The winter months are a perfect time to build an online presence for your museum. Share the link to the Featured Galleries page once you begin to add content. Use your social media platforms to let your audience know about your work!

We encourage you to leave comments & explore other galleries as well.

Spread the word! Do you have friends that would like to participate? They can register as a general user and create User Galleries.


Museum Management & Governance
The Museum Management and Governance Course was offered on November 2nd-3rd at Scott Manor House. Thanks to our presenters Barbara Richman & Leah Hamilton.

We partnered with CCI for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness for Cultural Institutions on November 8th-9th at the Nova Scotia Archives. Thanks to our presenters Irene Karsten & Alicia Ghadban.
Emergency & Disaster Preparedness
for Cultural Institutions

In Other News:

The ANSM Office will be closed for the holidays from December 18th-January 2nd.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Book Review - Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place

Civic Tourism: The Poetry and Politics of Place
By: Dan Shilling

The tourism industry is ever-changing and experts are realizing that there is more to business than just sales. Shilling notes that the "tourism product increasingly is crafted from a region's 'sense of place' - that is the very thing people call home" (17).  I agree with this statement. It is this sense of place that makes a community unique. It can be used to draw crowds when used correctly in tourism planning. Shilling encourages the reader to 1) rethink economics 2) connect to the public and 3) invest in the story (17). It is important to remember that museums play a key role in local tourism. Museums are responsible for educating the public about local history so it is crucial that museum staff communicate with those in charge of local tourism planning to ensure the museum is well-represented.

Shilling talks about place-based tourism and the importance of establishing pride in place:
"The more the people know the story of a place, the more likely they are to take pride in and be stewards of that place. Consequently, fostering a responsible place-based tourism ethic is made more practicable when you create additional opportunities to educate the public, including employees in the hospitality sector, about local history and culture. Innovative tourism training programs are doing just that - partnering with schools and heritage institutions to instill a sense of community pride in front-line staff, the people guests usually meet first. Museums can supplement these efforts by hosting open houses and receptions for travel industry employees, and they can lure in the public by thinking beyond their walls. For instance, to reach new residents museums might sponsor an updated version of Welcome Wagon, that instead of a fruit basket provides a video or book about local history - a way of saying, "Welcome, this is why we care." (45)

Think about what makes you unique and how you can share your stories with not only visitors but also potential partners. Who shares your vision for educating the public about local history and culture in your community? Who can help you reach a larger audience? Who can you connect with? How can you make these connections?  What can you do as an organization to invite the public into your space? 

Shilling talks about developing a sense of belonging by offering an insider's perspective through local tourism efforts. I too believe in the importance of this because it gives visitors the opportunity to invest in the local experience. It allows them to develop an attachment to the stories that are deeply rooted in this sense of place. I think it's important that everyone in the heritage community considers Shilling's "Invest in the Story": Conversation Starters:

Place Making: What institutions in your region focus on the preservation and improvement of cultural, natural, and social ingredients of place? 
Place Finding: If people and organizations in your community talk about "sense of place," are they primarily referring to a built notion, a natural one, or a historic sense of place? Or perhaps a combination? Do the agencies that represent these different characteristics of place have a history of working together? 
Place Funding: Have there been recent attempts in your community to develop a capacity-building and funding scheme to assist museums, Main Street programs, archaeological sites, and other heritage institutions, beyond the usual funding programs? (76).

Although, these questions were directed more towards those who work directly in the tourism sector, I think they are still valid in museums. One of the challenges that many museums face is comparing their organization to larger institutions. Shilling makes a great point about comparing a township to a city and comparing Disney World to a local attraction. There simply should be no comparison. It is important to focus on your town's assets and what the town can offer. It is important that you do not get overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Think about partnering with other organizations who share the same vision, who too are striving to create a cultural destination. It should be "encouraged to mature organically, that is humbly, in a manner appropriate to and consistent with a region's heritage, and ecologically, that is, reciprocally, in true partnership with other community players, the hospitality industry has the potential to transform towns" (22).

Now, do some digging. Is there already a history of tourism development in your town? Who are the stakeholders? Are there road blocks in the way? How are ideas communicated? When are meetings held? How can your museum be more involved in this discussion?

And finally, consider the cultural landscape of your community. Think about how cultural heritage, historic preservation, and nature overlap (105). Where does your museum fit into all of this? How can individuals and organizations from each area work together to create a stronger sense of place in your community?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October 2017 Update

Touchstones Update 

Preparing for the Touchstones performance has kept us busy this month! We have been working alongside our friends at Transitus on this project. The performance was created and designed by Nick Bottomley and Alexis Milligan, sound design by Aaron Collier, and graphics by Sean Skerry. Please follow us on social media for project updates: NovaMuse - Facebook / NovaMuse - Twitter / ANSM - Facebook
Exciting news! NovaMuse is now on Instagram and SnapChat. Follow us to get a glimpse of the performance as the tour continues!

Alexis & Nick at Touchstones performance

Yesterday, the 1st performance took place at Cole Harbour Heritage Farm! We are excited to continue to bring the performance to museums and high schools across the province throughout the month of November. The high schools we will visit include: St. Mary's Bay Academy, Pugwash District High School, and Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre/Academy.


Have you explored the new NovaMuse yet? Click here to view artifacts from our partnering museums across Nova Scotia. The website features more streamlined search options and exciting new features!

Did you know that we now have a 'For Teachers' Section on NovaMuse? Check out this resource and incorporate ideas into your own lesson plans!


We have been busy enriching agricultural tool records and military insignia records in CollectiveAccess this month. All agriculture enrichment reports and military enrichment reports have been sent out to the museums - check your email! We will continue to plug away at enriching marine artifact records - reports to follow.

There is now 289,286 artifacts documented with 149,114 associated images, which means that 217 new records and 1113 images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month - great work!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest -  126620 artifacts, 61110 images
Central -  100102 artifacts, 42362 images
Northeast -  33093 artifacts, 30955 images
Cape Breton -  29471 artifacts, 14687 images

The Northeast region took the lead with the highest number of images added this month - 629. Good job!

Tip of the Month

While working with our SMEs, we uncovered a number of artifacts that only had one image in CollectiveAccess. More often than not, items have marks and labels. Remember, these marks and labels often uncover manufacturer names, model numbers, dates, and more. This information will help you enrich your records. Remind staff and volunteers to look at the artifact from every angle so that this information is not missed. Remember to photograph these details and also transcribe it in the 'Marks and Labels' field in CollectiveAccess.
178 - Antigonish Heritage Museum

This practice should be applied to every artifact in your collection. For instance, this stereoscope has specific information about the patent date and location engraved in the wood. This would have been missed if the item was not turned over during the digitization process.

Planning for the Future

The Fall/Winter months is a great time to evaluate where you stand with collections management and forming partnerships in your community. Why not partner with a SME this Fall? Have you visited our Resources section on the ANSM website? Lots of great resources available to help you along:

-Working with Subject Matter Experts
-Working with Military Museum Collections Tip Sheet
-Managing Your NovaMuse Presence
-Collections Seasonal Work Calendar

NovaMuse Pinterest
In other news:
-Orientation sessions for next year's evaluations have started this month as we prepare for next year's cycle
-the Southwest Curator Meeting took place on Friday, October 20th
-NovaMuse can also be found on Pinterest! Check out our Halloween page for costume ideas for next year.

Friday, September 29, 2017

September 2017 Update

It is hard to believe that we have reached the end of September - where did the month go? We have been very busy this month.

NovaMuse celebrated its 5th birthday on September 13th! We had a contest planned that day on social media. Our Facebook audience was asked to join in on a scavenger hunt and find the following items on NovaMuse: 1) cake (of course!) 2) a birthday card 3) an outfit for the party. This was a fun and interactive contest that we received great feedback from, please let me know if you would like us to continue these sorts of contests in the future. Those who helped us locate the items shared their finds in the comments section of the post. Congratulations are in order for Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, West Hants Historical Society Museum, and Shelburne County Museum whose names were drawn for a prize.

Zak - Museum Hack
On September 22nd we held our Annual General Meeting/Symposium at the Best Western Plus in Liverpool. Thanks to everyone who joined us that day and to our presenters! A special thanks to our key note speaker, Zac from Museum Hack who joined us all the way from New York.

Sheryl Stanton
& Rodney Chaisson
We would also like to congratulate Sheryl Stanton, Former Curator/Administrator of the Admiral Digby Museum (Digby, Nova Scotia) who received ANSM's Award for Excellence in Museum Practices.

We were also excited to relaunch the NovaMuse website that day! If you haven't already done so, please watch our latest YouTube video for an introduction.

We have many great features on the new and improved site! Be sure to check out the What's New section on the homepage to see recent uploads. We hope you also enjoy the new resources available. There are nifty sample activities under the For Teachers Tab. You will also notice that the search options are more user-friendly and straightforward.

The website is much more interactive and encourages users to share their favourite images of artifacts. This is why it is crucial that our partnering museums continue to upload high quality images of their artifacts.

Image may contain: textUnder the MyNovaMuse tab there is an option for users to create User Galleries, in which users can create groupings of their favourite artifacts. The galleries can be set to private or public. There will also be an option for Advisory Service sites to create Contributor Galleries. We are in the process of setting up the contributor galleries and will reach out to the museums shortly. In the meantime, have fun brainstorming how you will utilize this feature. Might I suggest, grouping items for research projects and exhibits? This is also the perfect place to group items for SMEs that you are working with in your community!


449 new records and 1717 new images were entered this month, which means we now collectively have 289069 artifacts documented with 148001 associated images. These are really great numbers. Well done!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 126524 artifacts, 60929 images
Central - 100001 artifacts, 42191 images
Northeast - 33077 artifacts, 30326 images
Cape Breton - 29467 artifacts, 14555 images

A big congratulations to the Central region for breaking the 100,000 mark for number of records in CollectiveAccess!

Tip this month - It's all about the details!

Before -  84.1516  

With the relaunch of NovaMuse, it is important that high quality images are uploaded in CollectiveAccess. Your NovaMuse audience may be seeing your artifact for the first time so it's important to upload more than one photograph. Think about capturing your artifact at different angles (i.e. front, back, side). Remember to also photograph details, such as manufacturer marks and interesting features on an item. Try to eliminate clutter in the background and include the scale in the bottom left-hand corner. Example on the left: a weight or stay for tethering horses.

After - 84.1516 
SME Work

Kassandra did a phenomenal job this summer leading the SME partnerships. We have worked through a lot of information with our dedicated SMEs and are continuing to make adjustments to records in CollectiveAccess. If any of your records have been adjusted, you will receive a full report from me once this work is completed. Thank you for your patience!

Want to partner with SME's in your own community and not sure where to start? Check out our Working with Subject Matter Experts document for tips. Working with SMEs is a great way for museums to offer volunteer opportunities and invite people into their space. SMEs love to share their knowledge about local businesses, craft, and more. Where can you find SMEs in your area?


The Touchstones performance will hit the road soon! Exciting times ahead. We will be sharing photos from the road in November. Until then, check out the Touchstones gallery on NovaMuse!

"Touchstones is an interactive & interpretive social studies experience. Participants are engaged using creative technologies and team based play to experience, first-hand, the objects that help us tell stories about Nova Scotia. Imaginative invitations into the world of history take us from around the campfire to the decks of the sailing age and the coal mines of Nova Scotia industry. Examinations of social history center around the story of confederation and prompt participants to question the stories we tell and take part in reinventing them."

If you are busy like us this time of year, please utilize our new resources available on the ANSM website. The Collections Seasonal Work Calendar and Managing Your NovaMuse Presence will help you prepare for the fall/winter months.

That's all for now folks! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as you explore NovaMuse.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 2017 Update

New Arrival 

August has been an eventful month for us at the office. We welcomed a new addition to the ANSM family on August 16th - Alyson Jane Fletcher. Congratulations to both Karin and Ryan on their bundle of joy!

While Karin is away on maternity leave, I will be answering your Advisory Service questions and Cathy Blackbourn will be available to help with the Evaluation Program.

Site Visits 
Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and table
Colchester Historeum

The summer has flown by! It's hard to believe that we have wrapped up the annual site visits for another year. During this time, I met with 145 staff and volunteers from approximately 50 of our partnering museums. Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busiest months to meet with me. We decided to try something new this year and offer group digitization training sessions at six of our partnering museums: Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum, Yarmouth County Museum, Whitney Pier Historical Society Museum, Colchester Historeum, Chestico Museum, and Kings County Museum. These sessions were a fantastic opportunity for networking and collaborative learning. Participants had a ball helping each other capture the "perfect" shot of their artifact of choice. Many of them used the handheld scanner for the first time - a nifty tool for digitizing! Keep an eye on the NovaMuse Facebook and Twitter page where we will continue to share images from the sessions. We digitized roughly 400 artifacts and captured 1200 images. A special thanks to everyone who filled out the Advisory Service survey, we appreciate the feedback and are currently in the process of compiling the results!

DesBrisay Museum
Randall House Museum
I was very happy to see a great number of temporary displays for Canada 150 while traveling. Temporary displays highlight items that may otherwise remain tucked away in storage. The public enjoys seeing new content. It shows that your museum is actively working on your collections and is excited to share the story behind different artifacts.


One of our goals this summer was to increase the number of entities in the manufacturer database. Thanks to everyone who provided resources while I was on the road. There are now over 8000 entities for you to choose from in the 'Made In Nova Scotia' field. Exciting stuff! This number will continue to climb as I work through the resources I collected from you. Thanks for sharing! Found more information? Not a problem! I am still accepting resources by email.

A few friendly reminders - It is important that everyone is using their own account in CollectiveAccess. There are different access levels depending on your position at the museum. For instance, you can delete records in curator level accounts. Students and volunteers should never have access to this function. You have the ability to track changes to records on your Dashboard, under 'recently created' and 'recent changes.' This allows you to identify problems in your database, such as "dirty data" that needs to be cleaned up and who has been entering it. You can then let your staff know about the error and how to proceed with data entry going forward. If you require new accounts, please email me directly. Also, please wear gloves when handling artifacts. It is important to protect your artifacts during digitization. Tuck them in your back pocket for safe keeping!

In positive news, there was a steady increase in entries this month. Thanks for plugging away at your records behind the scenes. I have also been busy editing photographs from the sessions, more will be uploaded shortly. With your help, 687 new records and 2473 new images were entered this month, which means we now collectively have 288620 artifacts documented with 146284 associated images. These are fantastic numbers. Well done!

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 126325 artifacts, 60618 images
Central - 99835 artifacts, 41693 images
Northeast - 33004 artifacts, 29588 images
Cape Breton - 29456 artifacts, 14385 images

Image of the Month: This beautiful embroidered bag that we photographed during the digitization session at Colchester Historeum has lots of fine detail. When the bag is not positioned fully upright those details are lost. We found a bit more stuffing to fill out the bag and propped it up with rolled cotton batting. This made the world of difference. It created enough support so that the object could rest in an upright position, which means no white gloves in the shot! It is important that the cotton batting is not visible. If it peaks out from the inside of the bag or from behind, it's the first thing you see. Please also capture a close-up shot of the embroidery, the scale is not needed for this. 

SME Work and NovaMuse Redesign

In other news, Kassandra has finished her internship with us. She did a fantastic job working on a variety of different projects. She led the way with the Subject Matter Expert work this summer. We were ambitious and worked with four individuals to enrich museum records. Thanks to Gary, Terry, David, and Marven for all of their hard work.If your records have been enriched, you will receive a full report shortly. Kassandra also worked closely with our friends at Whirl-i-gig on the NovaMuse redesign project. Thanks to everyone who filled out the Contributor Survey and User Survey. We took your comments into consideration when redesigning the website. Stay tuned for a launch date!

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, phone and indoor
Kassandra, Marven and David 
A common problem we hear about quite often is that there is just not enough time or resources needed to stay on top of collections management. Good news! Kassandra has created new resources that will help you plan ahead and tackle collections management head on. These resources are now available under Collections & Access Resources on the ANSM website.
  • Working with Subject Matter Experts Tip Sheet
  • Working with Military Museum Collections Tip Sheet
  • Collections Seasonal Work Calendar
  • Managing your NovaMuse Presence
You can also find the Distaster Plan for the Public here. We want to thank Kassandra for her contributions this summer and we wish her all the best!

Touchstones Update

Have you seen the Touchstones virtual exhibit? We invite you to view the artifacts and read the students comments. Please share the results with your summer staff before they depart. We look forward to visiting the schools and museums set to host the presentation piece this fall. We will visit the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum, and Queens County Museum. Schedule to be released soon!

NovaMuse Birthday Bash!

On September 13th, NovaMuse will celebrate its 5th birthday! We have a fun contest planned for our Facebook audience so please watch the space. Are you an Advisory Service member? Please check your email for a sneak peek. 

That is all for now. Keep up the great work! I highly recommend utilizing the Collections Seasonal Work Calendar as you transition from the summer to fall months in your museums.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A note from Kassandra!

Wow this summer has flown by! It seems like just yesterday we were eating my welcome cake. I am so grateful to have had a wonderful summer at ANSM, and sad that it has come to a close. From the very first day I felt like a part of the team, and it has been such a pleasure learning from and working with this wonderful group of ladies. I also appreciate having had the chance to meet and correspond with so many fellow museum folk from across this province, be it through committee meetings, site visits, or SME work. Thank you to everyone who made my Nova Scotian experience so wonderful. 

Of course my biggest project was helping redesign NovaMuse. It is truly a privilege to help make the requests and visions of visitors and contributors alike a reality. While I was able to work behind the scenes collecting survey results and liaising with our web developers, I cannot stress enough how much this website belongs to everyone. The content comes from across the province, and is enjoyed by people across Canada and beyond. This is our history, and I hope I played a small part in allowing the stories to shine through. Keep an eye out for the NovaMuse relaunch (you cannot get rid of me quite yet)! 

-Kassandra, ANSM Intern

Friday, August 4, 2017

It's here! The Touchstones Virtual Exhibit has Launched

Top 150 Artifacts
The #150Touchstones virtual exhibit has launched on NovaMuse! Canadian History 11 students across the province curated 150 artifacts in celebration of 150 years of confederation. We are happy to report that the 150 featured artifacts are from museums across Nova Scotia.

It has been a wonderful experience celebrating #Canada150 with students who are passionate about local history and culture. ANSM looks forward to continuing this partnership as we explore future Touchstones initiatives.

The students took great interest in artifacts tied to public service, industry, transportation, sport, and everyday life. We are happy to report that items produced by Nova Scotian manufacturers also made the top 150! For instance, this stove made by the Brule Foundry was chosen.

Brule Foundry Stove - ST.2009.341.01A-J

"This cookstove is dated between 1860-1911. This black cast iron stove would have been in a family home. This stove was a wood heated stove. The use of this stove would be difficult because it would be hard to maintain the temperature. This shows how times have changed and the technology advancements. This stove would have been the main source of cooking at this time."

Learn more about this item here.

Anti-confederation banner - 488.5; 73.26

The students were also interested in items from the 1860s, such as the popular Anti-confederation banner from phase one. It was great to see students feature items chosen by the public. For instance, the top 10 artifacts from phase one have made the top 150. We are happy to report that students were also adventurous, exploring the depths of NovaMuse to highlight new items.

We invite you to view the 150 artifacts by clicking here!

Looking ahead! We are currently working with Alexis Milligan and Nick Bottomley to create a fantastic interactive performance piece that will showcase the top 150 artifacts from phase two. Harry Bruce's Illustrated History of Nova Scotia will inform the narrative and the artifacts will be digitally represented in a fun and creative way.

In the Fall, we will visit four museums and three high schools to share the Touchstones performance piece. We held a lottery for the museum hosts and the results are in! The four museums are: Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum, and Queens County Museum. Stay tuned for more information. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Update

Membership Renewal
Thank you to everyone who has sent in their membership renewal already. We will be sending our reminder notices before too long, but would love it if everyone could help us save some email time and postage. So if you haven't yet renewed your membership, please do so asap. If you want to avoid the paperwork, you can easily & quickly renew online.

Museum Evaluation Program
Team 2 at Highland Village
It feels like I blinked and evaluations were done. We had a very busy 3 weeks this month, with 3 teams of 3 (lotta 3s!) running around the province evaluating the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites. The evaluators reported back that they really appreciated the openness and knowledge of all the staff, and enjoyed hearing about all the museums' programs and activities.  If you want to check out some pictures of evaluations, we have created a Facebook album showing the teams in action.

Last month I shared that we were wrapping up the briefing notes, and this month I can say that we are hip-deep in writing reports - 26 are in process! We are in good shape to have these reports out to the museums before the end of the summer. After that we switch gears and start working on the big final report, where we analyze the scores, run statistics, and identify trends and common issues. I've already got 2 pages of notes to incorporate into this report, so I think we will again have a lot to say about this year's evaluations.
If you want to learn more about the Museum Evaluation Program, or want to read last year's report, check out our website.

Site Visits
From Sandi's desk:
I can't believe we are now entering the month of August. I have been busy on the road this summer,
Digitization training in Whitney Pier
visiting with staff and volunteers from 32 sites so far! Days at the office are filled with editing and uploading photographs. Keep an eye on NovaMuse for your site's images! We have digitized approximately 260 artifacts so far and have approximately 840 new images to add, proving that the digitization training sessions have been a bit hit! Thanks to everyone who has participated so far. These sessions have been a great team building exercise providing participants with the opportunity to network with other museum folk. A total of 87 people have participated and tomorrow we have another session, so that number will grow.

To sum up what I've been saying for the past few months - train your students, monitor progress, use the help text and YouTube tutorials, and call us or email when you need help! We are here for you! I was very disappointed today to run the monthly numbers and see some really dirty data going into some of the systems. Remember that these are your permanent records and your public face - enter it cleanly from the start and you can do amazing things, but enter a bunch of dirty data and you'll have headaches for a long time to come.
Now let's focus on the positive. We're seeing really great progress in digitization, especially from people who participated in the hub training sessions. Lots of fantastic images are going into the databases. By lots, I mean that 4,260 new images were uploaded this month, along with 677 new records. Those are huge numbers! Overall, we have 287,933 artifacts documented with 143,811 associated images. Wow.
Southwest - 125,766 artifacts, 59,417 images
Central - 99,725 artifacts, 41,445 images
Northeast - 32,998 artifacts, 28,865 images
Cape Breton - 29,444 artifacts, 14,084 images

As we look ahead to the relaunch of NovaMuse, having more and better images is absolutely on our to do list. So for this month's image lesson, we want to take a look at the same artifact, but in different ways. The first image is something snapped by a summer student who was told to photograph the collection. End of instructions. A label with the pattern name obscures a good portion of the item, and you can see there is a doily and some other artifacts nearby. This is quite frankly, a terrible photograph. You should have nothing even remotely close to this in your database.
The second image was taken by Sandi during a site visit, and is one of several of this same object. She took a primary image with the scale, and then did a few secondary
images so you could see the depth, sides, and clear views of the pattern. Is it just me or would you have had no idea these two photos were of the same artifact? We wanted to show you the difference between the two for a few reasons. Thinking back to when the RCMP were trying to identify artifacts stolen by Tillman from museums, which image do you think would be most helpful to them to make sure artifacts got back to the right museum? Thinking currently, which image do you think an expert in Nova Scotia Glass could use to tell you more about the item? And thinking ahead, which image do you want to be the public face of your museum as we relaunch NovaMuse?
I know we love to see the big numbers and feel like we're making lots of progress in our digitization work, but I think these two images say it all - we've got to take the time to get really good photographs or we're just wasting our time and making ourselves look bad.

Advisory Service Training Survey
We will be closing the survey on August 7th, and the analysis of the results will provide the framework for redeveloping Advisory Service delivery. From site visits to partnerships to online resources, everything is up for discussion. If you haven't weighed in yet, now is the time. Let us know what is important to you, what we can improve (and how), and we will swing into action to make the Advisory Service better than ever.

NovaMuse Redesign
The redesign is powering along. We have greatly improved search functionality and how artifact records display, and are now working on some of the background text. In very exciting news, we are also working on a new section for teachers, which will include sample lesson plans and resources so they can easily use NovaMuse in the classroom. Huge thanks to our friends at Whirl-i-gig for all their hard work, and for reading through so many long emails with lists of questions and ideas. You will notice that we have updated our Facebook and Twitter accounts with new background banners, a sort of sneak peek to the redesign that we hope will pique your interest.  And here's another sneak peek :)

Made in Nova Scotia
As you can tell, we're a bit swamped right now, so we're taking a break from working on enhancements to the Made in NS database. Sandi is still stockpiling resources though, so if she has yet to visit you, please be ready to share your local info with us. We want to make sure each community's creative and industrial heritage is represented in the database and on NovaMuse. The other side of this that we haven't mentioned lately is linking artifacts to these profiles. Kassandra made some gigantic headway in this respect. She linked 524 artifacts to their creators' profiles! Wow! So remember that when you are cataloguing something made locally, use the Made in Nova Scotia field to link the object to its creator.

SME WorkKassandra has been working with two subject matter experts - Gary and Terry - to review military and agricultural objects, and this Wednesday she'll be meeting with a couple marine experts to talk all things water transportation & accessories. So far 130 artifact records have been reviewed & improved!

Someone asked us via the training survey why they can't pick out objects to include in this work, so here's a quick overview of the process. When a subject matter expert (who we affectionately call a SME (pronounced smee like the character in Peter Pan) agrees to work with us, we talk to them about their area of expertise and what kinds of items they would like to review. They are volunteering their time and knowledge and we want them to enjoy the process. Sometimes they want to look at things in a really broad way (like agriculture) and other times they want to focus really tightly (like military badges). Once we have the subject matter set, we run a search in the back-end of NovaMuse and create a spreadsheet of all applicable items, from all the museums. Then we go through the spreadsheet with the SME, discussing as many of the items as possible. Sometimes we hit the jackpot and they have lots to say about an object, and other times they can't say anything about an object. So you'll see why museums submitting specific objects for review just isn't feasible. There are no guarantees in this work. Having said that, the more you digitize (high-quality, multiple images), the higher the likelihood that a SME can tell you more about an artifact.


Exciting things are happening! We are putting the final touches on the Touchstones virtual exhibit and it is looking great. The Canadian History 11 students have done a fantasic job selecting artifacts to showcase Nova Scotia's rich history throughout the years. It has been an honour celebrating 150 years of confederation with such an enthusiastic bunch. Stay tuned for the official launch date. An announcement will take place on both Facebook and Twitter.

We are also busy planning for phase three. We are working with Alexis Milligan and Nick Bottomley to create an interactive performance piece that will showcase the top 150 artifacts selected. Harry Bruce's Illustrated History of Nova Scotia will inform the narrative and the artifacts will be digitally represented in a fun and creative way. In the Fall, we will visit four museums and three high schools to share the Touchstones performance. We held a lottery for the museum hosts and the results are in: Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, Chestico Museum, Cole Harbour Heritage Farm, and Queens County Museum have won the spots! Stay tuned for more information.

Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 Update

Membership Renewal
Yes it is that time of year. Renewal packages were mailed out a couple weeks ago, and renewals have started to trickle in. Let me know if there are any questions about the information, and thanks for handling this in a timely manner.

Museum Evaluation Program
Hard to believe but it is almost time for site evaluations. Next week we are having our Evaluator Orientation day, and the week after that they hit the road to visit the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites. In the office we are still busy reviewing Documentation Review submissions and wrapping up final details in the briefing notes. And then it will be time to launch into Site Reports. As you can tell, this is a very intense program to time to rest between tasks or stages.

Given the amount of work required to shift this program into an Accreditation Program, the Steering Committee decided to form a working group to focus on updating the evaluation questions. Don't worry, this isn't a major overhaul. But we do have a list of questions that museums and/or evaluators found awkward last year, and got some great feedback from Candace Matelic on rewording some questions in the community section. So we're going to take a day and look at those and see if we can improve the clarity and user-friendliness.

Site Visits
Digitization training at the
Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum
Sandi has been enjoying life on the road this month and has already seen many museum staff and volunteers. Two digitization hub training sessions have taken place, the first at the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum on June 3rd, and the second at the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives on June 14th. So far 56 people have been trained in artifact photography and scanning, and the photos coming out of these sessions are really fantastic. 163 artifacts got digitized this month, with multiple photos of each one. These will make great additions to the collections databases and to NovaMuse. Very exciting! If you haven't signed up for one of the four remaining digitization training sessions, there is still time. Just get in touch with Sandi and she can fill you in on all the details.

We've heard from a few summer students that they are feeling overwhelmed by their work assignments and steep learning curve - understanding museum standards and a database and's a lot. So make sure you're checking in with your students regularly and providing them with the guidance they need. We are here to help and answer questions, but their first go-to should be their supervisor. As we've been saying a lot lately, use the help text, watch the YouTube tutorials, and read the manual. You can also refer to your Problems browse feature and the Quality Alerts widget to learn more about issues that need to be cleaned up. As a reminder, the Quality Alerts widget will display items on loan so that you can make sure your loan records are current. Permanent loans are an oxymoron and a bad thing for you to have lying around. If you need to reconcile old loans, check out our guide on the subject.
The last thing you want is a student guessing how to document things correctly. Many, many headaches will result.
Also, don't forget to set your access for media files that get attached to the database. Every image, audio or video file needs will remain invisible on NovaMuse unless you set the media to "accessible to public", and it appears that a lot of people have been missing this step. So let's release those images so people can see the artifacts we're telling them about.

In more positive news, we are seeing good progress in tackling those data entry and digitization backlogs now that extra help is here for the summer. 838 new records and 1,743 new images were entered this month, which means we now collectively have 287,256 artifacts documented with 139,551 associated images. Well done everyone!
Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:
Southwest - 125,281 artifacts, 57,584 images
Central - 99,572 artifacts, 40,925 images
Northeast - 32,974 artifacts, 27,233 images
Cape Breton - 29,429 artifacts, 13,809 images

Congrats to the Southwest region for adding the most records and images this month! Great work!

For your image of the month, let's do something a little patriotic shall we? Here's a beautiful maple leaf patch. For items like this, remember that you can digitize them with and without the scale, using the non-scaled image as your primary image for NovaMuse, and keeping the scale image in your database for quick reference. You can see how a scale would be very distracting in this shot. In terms of 'fixing' this shot, you'll notice a sort of greyish line that runs through from the top left to bottom right. Play with your lighting and camera settings to make sure that your image is evenly lit and doesn't have shadows in any areas.

NovaMuse Redesign
Thank you to everyone who completed a survey about NovaMuse. 45 museum workers filled in the museum contributor survey, and 75 members of the general public completed the visitor survey. This is a fantastic return rate that blew us away. Everyone gave great input and we are using this to enhance the search features and overall design of the site. Early mock-ups look great and we've really just started the process.

After much consternation, I have finally resolved an issue with comments being left on NovaMuse. Basically there was a big clog and notifications weren't coming through properly. Now that this is resolved I am reaching out to museums that have had comments left on their artifact records. If you hear from me about this, please let me know asap if a comment can be made public. Some comments were left quite awhile ago and it would be great to add all this crowd-sourced information to NovaMuse so everyone can enjoy and learn from it.

Advisory Service Training Survey
After compiling the results of the NovaMuse contributor survey, it is clear that more training on CollectiveAccess is something that many members would benefit from. Lack of training was identified as the second biggest obstacle in regards to CollectiveAccess work, only surpassed by a lack of time. Since we circulate an Advisory Service satisfaction survey on an annual basis, we decided that it was time to adapt that into something much more informative that would allow us to address the issues we saw in the NovaMuse surveys. Since this survey is strictly for Advisory Service museum members, the link has been circulated by email. If you are part of the Advisory Service and did not receive the link, let me know and I will get it to you asap.

And speaking of training, here are some dates to save! Firstly is our annual general meeting and symposium on September 22nd. The symposium is going to be a real mixed bag of helpful sessions and info in response to issues we saw in last year's evaluations. Trust me, you won't want to miss this.
Secondly, CCI is coming to Halifax with their Emergency and Disaster Preparedness workshop on November 8 & 9th. We are already getting calls and emails from across the country about this workshop. People are very, very interested in it. We will be opening registration for the workshop in September, so watch the Beacon & our Facebook page for the announcement and be sure to jump on this right away. We don't want Nova Scotian organizations to miss out.

Made in Nova Scotia
We are pretty swamped with other tasks at present, but have continued to make a it of headway in our Made in Nova Scotia database. Kassandra added another 20 shipbuilders this month, and I reconciled 32 furniture makers (most already had profiles so I was just updating records with more details). Sandi has been collecting more resources from museums as she has been travelling. Huge thanks to everyone who has pulled & copied information for her. This is really appreciated and we love how this resource is growing.

SME Work
Kassandra has been busy on the SME front, reviewing military badges with Gary. Next week she meets with Terry to look at agricultural items. As you can imagine, there are a lot of items that fit both these criteria, but we'll see how much we can get through before the end of summer. So far, about 60 artifacts have had a preliminary review.

The public has spoken, and the students have spoken, and if you read the last Beacon, you know we've just drawn to see which museums will host a theatrical presentation of #150Touchstones this fall. Sandi is currently confirming with the selected schools and museums that they do indeed want to host a presentation event, after which we will announce the names & places.

That's all for this month. Happy Canada Day everyone!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 2017 Update

If April was the month of regional meetings, May felt like the month of committee meetings.

IMAC met on May 15th to discuss the Advisory Service, and in particular the NovaMuse Redesign (more on that later!). They had surveyed online collections websites and as we talked about the results of this work, came up with some very clear ideas about future directions.

ETT met on May 17th, and focused entirely on planning for our Fall AGM & Symposium. This was a small but mighty group as a few people couldn't attend, but by the end of an hour we had a pretty great draft schedule outlined.

DDPDG (Digitization & Digital Preservation Discussion Group) held a teleconference on May 25th which Kassandra, Sandi and I all participated in. We talked about a number of things, but the most interesting one to me was about preserving information shared and/or gathered on social media, and incorporating that into collections records. It sounds like everyone is struggling with this.

Museum Evaluation Program
The provincial Nova Scotia Museum sites are halfway through the evaluation process now, as Documentation Reviews were submitted by May 5th. With the average number of files submitted being 72, this means that a lot of reading is happening now as we go through and score these questions. Briefing notes for evaluators are also being drafted, giving them info on each museum they'll be visiting in July. And speaking of, travel arrangements are almost completed for the evaluation teams.
Further behind the scenes, the Museum Evaluation Program Committee met on May 3rd (there's another meeting!) to review a number of documents and discuss accreditation. Some decisions have been made, and once we finalize a bit more info we'll let you know where you can read more about the Accreditation Program.
Anita, Kassandra and I met with Dr. Candace Matelic on May 23rd to discuss the community section of the evaluation. Candace teaches our Museums & Community course and is an international leader in community engagement work. Being able to toss around ideas with her and figure out how to really assess a museum's community engagement was very interesting and enlightening. We took a lot of notes, photocopied Candace's notes that she wrote up in advance of the meeting, and are feeling good about where we can go with this section, especially in light of how many museums struggled with it during last year's evaluations.

the random lol Katz widget
loves more reason why
we love CollectiveAccess
Kassandra Hanslep has joined us for a summer internship to complete her Museum Management & Curatorship Diploma from Fleming College. She's tackling a number...okay a lot...of tasks for us. One of the first of these was to review & update the help text in CollectiveAccess. It's still being edited, but we hope that the new version will make documentation standards even clearer for everyone. As I mentioned last month, please please PLEASE make sure your incoming summer students and new workers are using the help text. It will tell you what to enter, how to format it, and if followed you'll have wonderful, professional information in your database. If it isn't followed, you will have a lot of headaches and extra work to clean it all up. If you haven't already, check out our YouTube tutorial on Error Assessment tools in the database.

We have also done an assessment of the Sub-Type field and realized that pretty much all of that data is dirty. People have entered materials (which should be in the Materials field), or duplicated the object name (which obviously goes into the Object Name field). So we are going to slowly be cleaning this out, and then deleting the Sub-Type field from CollectiveAccess. Please stop using this field, and please remember to use the help text.

For a number of museums, the backlog of paperwork has been all entered into the database which means they are focusing on scanning and photographing the collection. And that really reflects the database work this month. 192 new records and 1,008 new images were added. I guess this means the summer cavalry has started to arrive! Overall we have 286,418 artifacts documented with 137,808 associated images. These are great numbers, but what we should be seeing is a closing of the gap between records and images. If you are seeing that gap narrow in your own database, that means you're on the right track. If you aren't seeing this gap narrow, that means it's time to look at your work plan, ask some tough questions, and potentially readjust.

Regionally, here's the breakdown:
Southwest - 124,592 artifacts, 56,655 images
Central - 99,447 artifacts, 40,466 images
Northeast - 32,955 artifacts, 26,895 images
Cape Breton - 29,424 artifacts, 13,792 images

NovaMuse Redesign
We've already been rather vocal about this, but we received federal funding to overhaul NovaMuse. We're pretty excited about this. It's grown so much since it was launched in 2012, and technology has progressed so much, that we need to clean it up, make things easier to find, and add in some new features. For those of you who remember my 2010 summer site visits, we talked about what you wanted to see in a new database system, and customized CollectiveAccess to meet those needs. We also dreamed about an online collections website and what that might look like. So now is the time for you to share your insights again. This is your website, your program, so we need to hear what you want it to look like. We also need to hear from NovaMuse visitors to find out what they want the site to be and do. Kassandra has done up two surveys to help inform this work. These have already been circulated by email, but here they are again. If you work or volunteer at a museum that contributes to NovaMuse, please complete this 3-minute survey. In order to help us get responses from NovaMuse users, please share this 2-minute public survey on your social media channels. Feel free to complete this second survey yourself as well, since the questions are quite different. The more input we get, the better we can make NovaMuse.
We've had an initial redesign meeting with Whirl-i-gig about this (yes, one more meeting) to share the results of IMAC's work and to brainstorm, and Seth & Sophie are looking forward to receiving the survey results from both the museums and the public. We are hitting the ground running!

Made in Nova Scotia
We continue to pick away at Made in NS info. Sandi has finished with the book on carvers, and Kassandra has started on Sails of Fundy by Stanley T. Spicer. I'm still working on MacLaren's Nova Scotia Furniture book. As Sandi travels around this summer, be sure to have your own local industries info ready for her. Better yet, email her in advance of the visit so she knows what you have, and can either let you know we've already worked through that resource, or figure out how we can copy or borrow it to get it into the database. We will not borrow artifacts or anything else from your collection, but are very keen to know about your reference library or other research resources.

SME Work
Last year you'll remember that Heather worked with Joleen Gordon to improve information about baskets. We lovingly referred to Joleen as our SME (subject matter expert). This summer we have partnered with four new SMEs and will be looking at agricultural, marine, and military artifacts. The lists of artifacts have already been circulated to our SMEs, and Kassandra will be working with them over the summer. As with last year, we are making no guarantees about how many artifacts will be reviewed, or what kinds of improved will be made. Museums will be informed if the work reveals more info about their collection.

The second phase of Touchstones came to a close on May 18th. During phase 2, Canadian History 11 students across the province had fun selecting artifacts for the virtual exhibit and interactive storytelling components of this project. They selected a wide variety of artifacts, everything from sports equipment to a commemorative plate. If you voted during phase 1, you'll be happy to hear that the students selected a lot of items from the top 600 artifacts chosen by the public. The top 150 items will be revealed shortly.
What's next? For phase 3, we will work with classes that participated in phase 2. They will be given the opportunity to engage in an interactive presentation, which will utilize audio-visual techniques to tell the stories of the artifacts selected by the students. Two museums will also be selected to host this presentation. A lottery will take place shortly to select these museums. To be eligible, a museum had to promote #150Touchstones during the earlier phases of the project.
This is exciting stuff, and while we didn't have as many schools participate as we'd hoped, we are hopeful that Touchstones can serve as a pilot for future NovaMuse & high school collaborations.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Introducing Ms. Hanslep

Hello! My name is Kassandra Hanslep and I am joining ANSM this summer as an intern. This internship will finishup my studies at Fleming College in the Museum Management and Curatorship graduate certificate program. I am excited to be in Halifax for a fun and busy summer!

Originally from Toronto, my family moved out of the city after I finished high school, now residing just south of Collingwood, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate degree in History at Western University (formerly University of Western Ontario). While I loved reading and writing about history, I was looking for a way to apply my studies outside of academia. This led me to my first museum experience – helping to curate a historical photography exhibit at the Dufferin County Museum & Archives.

Having fallen in love with museum work, I spent the following summer working at The Collingwood Museum. I was lucky enough to be there as they were undertaking a reorganization project of their largest storage room as part of CCI’s RE-ORG Canada. This involved moving every single artifact out of storage, and back in once new storage furniture had been installed. I was accepted back at The Collingwood Museum for the next summer as well, allowing me to expand on my Collections Management knowledge and work.
I feel privileged to be at ANSM as part of my museum journey. I look forward to taking in all of Nova Scotia’s beautiful scenery, friendly people, and delicious seafood!