Friday, August 31, 2018

August 2018 Updates

Changing Tide - Heritage Stewardship and Sustainability Conference
For our annual fall conference, we are partnering with the Town of Annapolis Royal and Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia. Gathering in Annapolis Royal from September 26-28, the program is jam-packed with great content. Some of us are especially excited about the workshop and keynote address by Douglas Worts. We would love to see you all there. Learn more on our website.

Museums 101
The first course in our Museum Studies Program, Museums 101 is taking place on October 4&5 in Hubbards at the Hooked Rug Museum of North America. If you are new to museums (whether your role is on the board, as staff, or as a volunteer), this is a great place to meet some colleagues and get some foundational training about museology. It is also a great place to learn about trends and changes in the field. We've had a number of people participate who have worked in museums for 20+ years but found the discussions and topics very helpful as they work to keep their museums relevant.
previous M101 workshop
The last time we offered this workshop we got some pretty nice comments from participants - "Great opener / introduction to Museums. Excellent help to someone new to museum life. Thanks!" "Everything was valuable because our museum has had some change, also we are so new this information will help us for years to come." 
There are only 8 spots left, so for more information and to register online, check out our website.

Museum Evaluation Program
I know that everyone is eager for updates here. For those that were evaluated this year, the scoring is all done and we are putting the final finishing touches on reports. They will definitely be ready to go in the mail next week.
We had a debrief with the evaluators on August 7th, which garnered some great suggestions on how to further improve the program and evaluation process. We continue to be amazed by this corps of professionals. They are so dedicated to Nova Scotia's museums...that fact really can't be understated.
We've started running statistical analyses now, checking out trends in scoring and identifying issues that affect a wide variety of museums. This is very valuable information, and as we prepare for the Museums 101 workshop, some updates will be done on the content to address these commonalities.
We are also looking ahead to future evaluations. The MEP Steering Committee met yesterday and hashed through a lot of evaluation business. We are making some slight tweaks to questions that still felt awkward to either the museums or evaluators, have a draft rotation schedule that will be released very soon, and are planning another meeting in the coming weeks to continue the work and look more at accreditation. Just like the evaluators, this is a very keen and dedicated group.
We will shortly be announcing the roster of museums to be evaluated in 2019.

New Resources Online
As we've been working on evaluation stuff, we've also been looking to make sure that our online resources align with evaluation requirements. Special thanks to Chestico Museum & Archives for letting us use their volunteer goal review form as inspiration for a new template. You can download it here. We have also updated our exhibition policy template (thanks to the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame for helping with this one). We've also shifted the collections seasonal work calendar to docx format, so you can now download and customize it to your unique situation. There are more on the way, so stay tuned. And remember that we take requests, so if you are in need of a particular resource, let us know.

CollectiveAccess Update

There are now 295,234 artifacts documented with 176,029 associated images, which means that 2,545 new records and 4,005 new images have been added to CollectiveAccess this month - great work everyone! Congratulations to the Southwest region for adding the most records and images this month.

Congratulations are also in order for the Central region for reaching 100,000+ artifact records & the West Hants Historical Society for reaching the 10,000+ benchmark for images. Great work all around!

We have run a report for the number of records created and modified since 2015. If you are interested in receiving these totals for your site, please email Sandi at

Here's what the numbers look like at the regional level:

Southwest -131489 artifacts, 66,988 images
Central -100,099 artifacts, 49,791 images
Northeast - 33,558 artifacts, 43,479 images
Cape Breton - 30,088 artifacts, 15,771 images

Now we need to have a little chat about supervising students. For some reason, this has been a very bad summer for student work. We've had multiple instances of students renumbering artifacts, and multiple instances of students inputting very dirty data in CollectiveAccess. We make jokes about being omniscient, but the fact is that we can't actually see everything going into the databases in real-time. We're good, but we're not that good. It is so very important that the students be supervised, have regular meetings to discuss their work plans and associated progress, and feel comfortable asking questions instead of making up their own answers and "solutions". We can absolutely help with answering questions and providing collections management and database guidance. We understand how busy museum life is, and that it just isn't possible to be watching or working with students every hour of every day. But the last thing you want is a massive clean-up project because the students were just let loose on your database. So as this summer wraps up, and as we look to the future, let's try to plan for better student support systems and mitigate these kinds of headaches.

Site Visit Update
Randall House Museum
Sandi is off the road for another year. She had a wonderful time visiting Advisory Service sites across the province to review CollectiveAccess features, digitization methods, new ANSM resources, and exciting NovaMuse features. She met with 100+ staff and volunteers.

This year, we custom tailored the site visits to suit your needs. Some members decided to focus primarily on CollectiveAccess training, exploring additional features like creating displays while others asked for a refresher on digitization methods and basic data entry. There was great interest in exploring the new features on NovaMuse. Many site visits involved an overview of how to add galleries under the museum's account. There have been many additions since then, which is exciting to see! A few of our sites opted for a conference call this year, which worked well for those who felt they were in a good place with database work.

Everyone now has log-in information for the myNovaMuse-Galleries. This is a wonderful opportunity for your site to build its online presence and celebrate stories that connect items in your collections. Want to learn more? Click here to watch the YouTube tutorial. Remember to feature records from your museum in your galleries space when logged into the museum account. If you wish to create your own account, you are more than welcome to do so! The galleries feature can be used for research purposes as well.

Digitization Tip - Do you have larger artifacts left to photograph but do not have the photo studio on-hand? No problem! Using white or black fabric as your backdrop works well. Try to find a space with lots of natural light and try to avoid shadows when positioning your artifact. You can pin the fabric in place against a wall or ask a few friends to help if space is limited. Also, avoid wrinkles or creases in your fabric, these can be very distracting in photos. Once the photo is edited and the surroundings cropped out, you should be left with an image similar to the after photo to the right. The staff at the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum assisted Sandi with this shot.

Photo Kit - Speaking of the photo kit, spots are still available this fall. The kit contains a light and dark backdrop set-up, lighting, and tripod (camera not included). Please contact Sandi if you would like to borrow it (available for a 3 week period). Pick-up and drop-off is at the ANSM office in Halifax. Planning a travel route with sites in your area has worked well for others in the past. Check out the Contributor Map on NovaMuse to see who is in your area.

SME Pilot Project
- Staff at both the Kings County Museum and Colchester Historeum are busy forming partnerships with SMEs in their area. As they begin to make these connections, staff are creating lists of potential records for data cleaning. We are excited to hear more about their findings as the project unfolds!

Stay tuned for more updates on the Webinar Series!