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.