Friday, November 29, 2019

November 2019 Update

what's more Canadian than talking about
heritage while eating lunch while
overlooking a hockey rink?
Museum Evaluation Program
Orientation sessions for 2020 are done! Phew! Anita and Karin put in a lot of mileage this month, talking about evaluation in Dartmouth, Liverpool, Sydney and Truro. It was great to see everyone and enjoy some cake together. It was especially great to meet so many board members and to hear from them how helpful and informative orientation was. We didn't go asking for this feedback, but were pleasantly surprised to have at least one board member come up to us at each session to say they were so glad they attended, and how much they learned. If your museum is being evaluated in 2020, here's some important info:
- presentation slides have been posted on our website.
- key documents (including the Documentation Review and Site Evaluation forms) can be downloaded from our website.
- the Q&A email group is being built and the first message will go out very soon. If you didn't attend an orientation session and want to be added to this learning group, contact Karin.

of course we had to have cake
For those that were evaluated in 2019, a friendly reminder that the deadline to apply for Accreditation is fast approaching - December 20th! You can learn more about eligibility and download the application form from our website. Feel free to contact Karin with any questions. We're excited to roll out this new element of the Museum Evaluation Program and look forward to celebrating museum excellence with everyone. Anita has been meeting with a sponsor and marketing company about the branding and marketing of Accreditation, so while those details aren't settled yet, they are well underway.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Over the past month, 282 new records and 2,929 new images were added to the databases. This gives us grand totals of 307,356 records and 215,891 images.

Regionally, here's the breakdown:
Southwest - 136,796 artifacts, 83,255 images
Central - 102,882 artifacts, 62,179 images
Northeast - 36,539 artifacts, 53,341 images
Cape Breton - 31,139 artifacts, 17,116 images

Our image of the month is a lesson in training, in that we can't assume a new employee or volunteer will understand collections care and handling. While we may think it shouldn't need to be said, this image is proof that you have to tell people not to wear the artifacts. This is a particularly concerning case as it is a lace glove; fragile, easily picked by a fingernail. Not to mention the oils and dirt on the model's skin that has now been transferred to this glove. No matter how tempting it might be, do not try on clothing from the collection. Mannequins and forms should be used to demonstrate how items are worn.
This is also a lesson in monitoring staff and volunteers who are doing hands-on collections work. Again, you can't assume that all is going well and that standards are being followed. It is absolutely crucial to check people's work, and to check in with them on progress. I know we're all overloaded and it is a huge relief to be able to delegate tasks, but the last thing you want to do is broadcast to the world that you're putting the collection at risk. And that's exactly what this image does.

SME Updates
The partnerships with our SMEs continue! Thanks to Gary for hosting us this month at the Army Museum and thanks to Eric, our ships portraits expert, for joining us via Zoom meetings a few times. Both Sandi and Ayla learned a lot during this process. Sandi has made great progress with editing footage this month and there are some fantastic clips of our SMEs in action that we are excited to share on NovaMuse soon. For now, here's a sneak peek behind the scenes during filming at the Army Museum.

Artefacts Canada
We have sent out a few messages now regarding refreshing content on Artefacts Canada (AC) and more than 30 museums have answered affirmatively. We've added thousands of records and images to AC. If you are among the 20ish museums that haven't yet responded and given us permission to do a biannual refresh of your information, please contact Sandi.

Old Loans and New Resources
Ayla has completed her research project and the result is a Guide to Digitizing Time Based Media. If you have cassette tapes, records, wax cylinders, compact discs and the like in your collection, you'll want to check this out.
We are also really happy to finally release the new version of our Loan Reconciliation Toolkit. This was a long time in the making, but ANSM and our lawyer are very pleased with the final result. Ayla is wrapping up lender lists right now, after which we'll be emailing customized versions to those museums who requested them. As far as we can tell, this resource is the only one of its kind in Canada. We really hope that it helps museums of all shapes and sizes in addressing the old loans sitting in their institutions.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Museums and Remembrance Day - 2019 Edition

Allie & Shari.
Allie fell asleep mid-play
Last week I attended the funeral of a dear friend. When lives are cut short, especially when the person is on the younger end of the spectrum, conversations inevitably include musings on the person's hopes and dreams, what they accomplished in their short life, and how much more they could have done if they had been given the opportunity.

Tributes and reminiscences at my friend's funeral revealed common threads; a strong faith, a love of reading, a passion for music, a desire for community (especially if it involved food), an eye and voice for social justice, a knack for jokes and being silly, a talent for seeing the uniqueness in children and nurturing their individuality, and the ability to fall asleep on anyone's couch at any time.

My friend started not one, but two literacy programs, learned to play many instruments and even resorted to building her own 15th century instrument that none of us had ever heard of when she felt she needed a bigger challenge. She was energized by learning, volunteered widely, and loved to help people. She traveled and was part of musicals and festivals and lived her life unapologetically and to the fullest.

I left this funeral feeling a mixture of inspiration and regret. Listening to the tributes and accomplishments of my friend was impressive to say the least. Her legacy is far flung, it is varied, and she will be remembered and missed for a very long time. People who never met her are benefiting from what she did. I wish we had visited more often, especially after she fell ill. I wish my daughter could have had more time with our friend, as she is too young to hold on to the memories of their time together. I was really looking forward to their days of music lessons. I miss her and I miss what could have been.

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium
I wish we had more time. How often do we express that sentiment? As I mused over this time of year and everything that comes with Remembrance Day, I was suddenly hit by the grand scope and scale of this loss, of times of war and conflict when funerals and memorial services and mourning were so widespread and such a common occurrence. What would a world be like where my singular grief was magnified hundreds and thousands of times. What would a world be like when so many people would be mourning for so many other people at the same time.

As I pondered all of this, the word legacy came to mind again and again. We often hear of the collective legacy of our veterans; of the rights and freedoms we are guaranteed because of their service. More and more we are hearing personal stories, as we collectively realize that time is running short for some of them to be shared in veterans' own words. As museums, if our mission is to honour and celebrate our community's past, then we must be doing this in a personal way, at the individual level. Unfortunately, even though we are engaging in oral history and other projects to capture these personal stories, they don't always get linked to databases or websites or other standard resources. They are separate, and can be lost or left behind on shelves or in files.

In an age when distractions are rampant and information is often twisted or made up, pursuing the truth and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human experiences is a noble task for museums. We can and should be bearing witness to personal stories and lives lived, but this information has to be integrated into our sharing tools (databases and websites) in a more permanent way for this information to be disseminated and make an impact. In contemplating Remembrance Day, we should investigate and honour the legacy of our veterans, following as many threads as we can find.

Uncle Grenville and his fiancee
If we follow these threads, the information revealed provides opportunities for celebrating the men and women who served. How did they overcome hardships and endure terrible experiences? How did they care for and protect and save their friends with whom they were serving? How did they maintain their senses of humour when there wasn't much to laugh about? For those that didn't come home, what were they studying or pursuing as careers before they were called to serve? What happened to the fiancées whose wedding plans had to be cancelled? How did people adjust to life after conflict? What kind of mental and physical and emotional scars were left from such experiences? Did they maintain war-time friendships throughout their lives, participate in reunions, write letters to each other, or did they prefer to move on from that chapter and focus on a peaceful civilian life? How did people's experiences during times of war and conflict change them? What lessons did they want to impart on the next generation? What impact did people have on their communities, what memories and marks have they left behind? Can they still be seen and felt today?
Following these threads of questions and information will enable us to weave richer collections records and demonstrate legacies in our communities; to reveal connections that aren't obvious.

The questions and stories are seemingly endless. But what better way to honour people than to document and share their far flung and varied legacies. In doing so, we will remember them for a very long time to come.

Grandpa and his buddies, Burma 1945