Thursday, May 6, 2021

Introducing Sarah!

Hello! I’m Sarah, and I will be joining ANSM over the next 12 weeks as an intern. I’m a graduate student at the University of Toronto completing the Master of Museum Studies program. Participating in an internship during the summer between my two years of study was one of the major draws of this program, so I am really looking forward to working with ANSM this summer!

Before starting the Master of Museum Studies program, I earned my Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto with a double major in French Linguistics and Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations and a minor in English (if you think it’s a mouthful to read, you can only imagine how challenging it was to say out loud!). I decided to join the museum world after volunteering at the Royal Ontario Museum and discovering it was the perfect environment to combine my love of learning, teaching, and caring for objects. I am so excited to learn more about collections management and educational/public programming from the ANSM staff and its member museums this summer.

I have lived in the Greater Toronto Area for my whole life, and I will be completing my internship virtually from the Toronto area during the summer. While I’ll miss the opportunity to explore a new province, my remote internship will give me an even better reason to visit Nova Scotia once I can! I am so excited to get started with ANSM!

 

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

April 2021 Update

Learning Opportunities
We wrapped up Museums 101 this week, and while it was a great group with great engagement, to be honest it made me miss our in-person courses. I missed all the casual chats, networking during breaks, and the flexibility to shift gears and spend more time on topics of interest without having a two hour limit to our time. But we made it work. Thanks to everyone who joined me!

Next up is Interpretation I: Public Programming, facilitated by Virginia Stephen. This course will be delivered over five weeks, in two hour sessions held on Wednesday afternoons. Registration closes on Monday, so now is the time to sign up. To learn more and to register, click here.

We've also had some questions about fall course offerings. I will be facilitating our Collections Management and Curatorship course following the same online, five-week format this fall, but dates are not yet set. Stay tuned to the Beacon and our Facebook page for more info, where we also share other learning opportunities that cross our desks.

CMAP 
For those museums that receive funding from CMAP, you should have received a letter about this year's funding. It also mentioned that there is a new interim program officer and he is holding virtual office hours on Monday to get to know you, answer your questions, and share info. And this new officer is no other than ANSM's former Administrative Assistant Ian Mullan. Ian worked with us about 10 years ago and is excited to be in this new role. If you need help connecting with him let us know and we will help you out.

Museum Evaluation Program
Given the current lockdown, we have extended the deadline for Documentation Review submissions by one week - now due May 14th at 1159pm. Most of the museums have already submitted their files for review, but we felt like this was something we could do to alleviate some stress and pressure from those that now find themselves wrapping things up under lockdown. 

We have two Deep Dives left, both looking at the Site Evaluation. We also have recordings of all the previous sessions, so if you missed one, just say the word and we will send along the link. To see the full list of Deep Dives and register for the final two, click here.

Site Visits
Emma is in the midst of finalizing in person site visits for this summer. If you receive an email asking to confirm a date, please respond promptly. You all know what a juggling act this is, so the sooner we can settle the dates/times the better. Her goal is to visit half of the Advisory Service museums in person and meet with the other half virtually. This approach allows for better support to all sites over the course of the summer season, especially during this crazy times. Those who received virtual visits last year will be top priority for in-person visits this year. The lockdown has meant that there is less time for visits, and we know that changes may occur suddenly, but she will give as much warning as possible if the schedule needs to change. We really appreciate your understanding and encourage you to reach out to Emma with any questions at any time.

Hub Training
We have not yet heard about our MAP grant application, but are hoping positive news arrives soon. The plan this year is to provide training and support on the digitization and enrichment of domestic textiles (textiles used in the home). We hope to deliver five in-person training sessions and one virtual. The lockdown threw us for a bit of a curve, but details will be announced shortly so stay tuned!

CollectiveAccess Updates
We saw some ups and downs in database work this month. Remember that deaccessioned items should not be deleted from the database. You want to be able to pull up that info at the drop of a hat. This is also a good time to remind everyone of the importance of training and reviewing summer students' work. We have a number of training tools you can use to support your internal orientation, so please don't hesitate to reach out to Emma for help.
We currently have 327,815 artifacts and 277,767 images in our collective databases. That's a lot of items and a lot of content. There are ample opportunities for data clean up, research, and enrichment so let's all commit to the tortoise's approach of slow and steady winning the race. Let's take our time and get things done. Here are the regional numbers:
Southwest: 140,905 artifacts, 96,251 images
Central: 104,731 artifacts, 88,086 images
Northeast: 49,645 artifacts, 69,860 images
Cape Breton: 32,534 artifacts, 23,570 images

Your image lesson of the month is a sneak peek at domestic textiles. We talk a lot about photographing things in their natural position, and so here's a look at a nifty hooked rug. The image is clear and the scale is positioned well, but photographing a 2-dimensional rug as if it is a 3-dimensional item doesn't do justice to the artistry here. We can also tell from the dogs that there is a top and bottom of the rug, but it was photographed from a side instead. If I were to retake this photo, I would shoot it straight on with the middle dog standing in its natural position. It is basically the same approach as photographing a painting. Get above the object and shoot down. Can't wait to see all the great images from this summer's work.

NovaMuseEd
We continue to see a very positive uptake on NovaMuseEd. So far this year we've had 1,164 downloads of the resources, with an increasing number every single month. This new service is proving especially helpful now as schools are teaching virtually. In Wednesday's final Museums 101 session I highlighted the power of this program. While a single museum may have a small number of resources to offer teachers, joining forces on this initiative means that teachers have a wide variety of resources to use, from a wide variety of communities and museums. This is fantastic. As I've said in the past, it gives us a renewed sense of purpose for our collections database work, and for NovaMuse. Emma will be highlighting this initiative during her site visits. In the meantime, I would encourage you all to think about what ideas or programs (old or current) you have that could work with NovaMuseEd. Let's keep offering up more services and resources to our educators.

Artefacts Canada Refresh
It is that time of year again, when we refresh our records on Artefacts Canada. I am gradually running these exports, so all of your work of the past six months will soon be ready to send up to CHIN's team. If anyone hasn't yet given us permission to run these refreshes for you, feel free to do so. We're happy to take this off your plate.

Educational Partnerships
This month we said goodbye to Devlin (yes he got cake and a rock-based parting gift) and mused over the amazing amount of work he accomplished while with us. As we mentioned last month, we will also be hosting an intern over the summer. Unfortunately this latest outbreak has meant that we have shifted her internship to a virtual one, but we are looking at involving her in a wide variety of tasks and projects so that you'll still be able to interact with her and she'll get to know you and your museums. Keep an eye out for her during virtual site visits and hub training. Sarah starts on Monday, so stay tuned for her introduction!

Keeping Fresh
This month I started a 10 week course on essential evaluation skills, facilitated by the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society. It's a lot of work but so far I'm enjoying it and ideas are swirling in my head about our Museum Evaluation Program. 

This week I started a six week series on Burnout Resiliency from the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia. We know this is a major issue in our field, and I don't mind saying that the first session really felt like therapy. I think it's going to be excellent learning for professionally and personally. Who isn't feeling a little burnt out right now?

Friday, April 9, 2021

Adios from Devlin

It is hard to believe that I started this internship at ANSM 12 weeks ago already and that it is already coming to a close.  I have learned so much in my time here and am so glad that in these pandemic days I was able to come out to Halifax and experience some of the city and culture of the east coast.  I had the opportunity to work on many different projects while I was here and contribute to the museum community in, I hope, a meaningful way.

Museums that I helped
with data improvements
My biggest project involved learning the ins and outs of the CollectiveAccess database, in which I spent a ton of time data cleaning entities for a number of museums, working on the imports for Northumberland Fisheries Museum, and learning the process for database migration into CollectiveAccess.  I also got the opportunity to develop a geology based learning activity, word search and crossword for NovaMuseEd, and work with a geologist to enhance the geospecimen entries of a number of museums throughout NS.  I also spent time working with the collections at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the HRM warehouse getting some hands on time with some local collections.

This has been a great experience for me and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to intern here at ANSM, I look forward to taking the skills I have learned into future collections.

Have a great rest of 2021; I look forward to coming back to Nova Scotia!

See you later,

Devlin

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 2021 Update

Training Opportunities
Our year of online training continues, and today we are launching Museums 101 with a very full and diverse class. It's great to see new board members, staff and volunteers sign up for professional development. Since the pandemic started, we have seen a big shift in who is participating in training opportunities and we hope that this trend continues for the long-term. There is an increase in engagement that is definitely resulting in stronger museums across the province. 

Next up in online learning is Interpretation I: Public Programming. Registration opens next week so be sure to check out the info sheet and talk with your colleagues about this opportunity and who might want to participate. This course is only offered once every three years.

Museum Evaluation Program
The site evaluation schedule is next up on the MEP agenda. With so much on the go and so many moving parts, it is taking a little bit longer than the previous few years, but it will be ready for release soon. We will also be releasing the evaluation teams and biographies at the same time. So if you are being evaluated this year, you'll know when your team will be on-site and who your team will be. 

Deep Dives continue, the next one being a tutorial on using the FTP site to upload files for Documentation Review. This takes place on April 8th at 1:30pm. Click here to see all the Deep Dives on offer, and to register.

Ever moving forward, we have been investigating options for a new file submission platform and found a great solution that is fresher, easier, and more flexible. So this year will be the last year that we use the current ftp site. The new platform will be up and running for next year's evaluations.

Nomenclature News
There is some pretty big news in the cataloguing world. Nomenclature.info has moved away from the primary term, qualifying term format (e.g. Chair, Rocking) to a natural word order format (e.g. Rocking Chair). This obviously has a big impact on our work, on our databases, and on NovaMuse. IMAC (the info management and access committee) will be meeting next week and this is going to be a big point of discussion. With 330,000 artifacts in the databases, this represents A LOT of work. Stay tuned...

CollectiveAccess Updates
Impressive database work continues. This month 944 records and 4,102 images were added, collectively bringing us to 329,439 artefacts and 276,479 images. Regionally, this breaks down as follows:
Southwest: 142,875 artifacts, 97,093 images
Central: 104,621 artifacts, 87,243 images
Northeast: 49,429 artifacts, 68,752 images
Cape Breton: 32,514 artifacts, 23,391 images

Congrats to the Northeast region for adding the most records this month, and to the Central region for adding the most images. Way to go!! 

We have a couple new tools to tell you about this month. First, in your database there is a new search function called "Search Builder". This is a new tool that lets you easily search by various fields in complex ways. We will do up a little video tutorial on the new feature, but in the meantime here are the basic steps. Go to Find - Objects - Search Builder. 
Using the dropdown list, select which field you want to search for, and then what kind of info you want to be included (you can use
qualifiers such as text begins with, ends with, contains, is empty or not empty, etc.) Clicking on the AND button means that each of the elements you included in the search must be part of a record. Using the OR button means that any of the elements you included could be part of the record, but the elements do not have to be found in the same record. In my screenshot example, I have built a search looking for chairs that were made in Nova Scotia. 

We have also worked with the CollectiveAccess in Canada group and Seth at Whirl-i-gig to create a new CollectiveAccess in Canada support forum. This does not replace your ANSM support. We are still here and happy to help you whenever you need anything. But since there are so many users in Canada now, it was decided that a place for everyone to chat might be beneficial. You will need to sign up for the forum in order to contribute to discussions. 

Educational Partnerships
Devlin's internship is nearing its end and he is working hard to wrap up various projects. It's amazing how quickly the time has passed. We are also pleased to share that we'll be hosting an intern over the summer as well. We always enjoy these experiences, both in meeting emerging professionals and in working on varied projects with them. We often feel like we do our coolest projects when we are hosting interns.

Our annual Fleming College project is wrapping up and I will be circulating the students' reports within the next two weeks. Thanks again to all the museums for participating and for giving the students to chance to work with your collections. 

Made in Nova Scotia
Devlin has wrapped up the stockpile of Made in NS resources, adding/editing info for 150 makers, predominantly from Cumberland, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties. As we start to think about summer site visits, if anyone has info on local makers we'd love to see what it is and make sure the info is included in this database. And be sure to remind staff and volunteers about how to link items to their maker!

NovaMuseEd
We released three new resources this month - a learning activity on Printing Technology and Creative Writing, Geology Crossword and Geology Word Search. The latter two relate to Devlin's SME work (more on that below), and he's now putting the final touches on a geology-related learning activity as well. Cheryl is also putting some finishing touches on a learning activity with the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, focusing on oral history and Helen Creighton's work and legacy. We were musing again this morning about how incredibly different each of these resources are. The creativity of the museums that have been working with us on this initiative is really inspiring. 

In other fun news, we had a great meeting with a local marketing company that will be helping us to develop a marketing plan for NovaMuseEd. The plan is to have this ready by the end of the summer so that more and more educators will be aware of the site and able to integrate it into their teaching plans. 

As ever, if anyone hasn't yet partnered with us on this and is interested in learning more, reach out any time. 

SME Work
Ken Adams continues to meet with Devlin to work through geospecimen records. They are going to try and meet one more time, after which Devlin will be updating the last few records in databases and circulating mini reports to all the museums whose collections are impacted by the work. So far they've worked through 100+ records so this is yet another example of the importance of working with subject matter experts. It takes a bit of time but you can learn so much. Important corrections and additions can be made, and we look forward to sharing the results of this work with the museums. Having said that, this project once again highlighted the need for high quality images from multiple angles. 

Keeping Fresh
It feels like the work pace is increasing these days, but we are still trying to take advantage of virtual learning when we can. This month was no exception. First up for me was a webinar from Wild Apricot - The 6 Legal Challenges of Taking your Nonprofit Virtual. This was a really interesting look at how nonprofits have been shifting to online delivery and things to think about. 

My evaluation training of the month was from the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society - Building Evaluation Capacity of an Organization in Times of Turbulence. My biggest takeaway from this lunchtime session was the potential for evaluation to be more proactive and future-focused; to ask questions about how those being evaluated can accomplish their stated goals or move forward in a positive way. 

The final training of the month was an Indigenous Collections Symposium hosted our friends at the Ontario Museums Association. Hearing elders and speakers from across the entire country speak about ancestor objects, the colonial legacy of museums, reconciliation, community ownership, and much more, was fascinating to say the least. It was encouraging to hear about the movement that has been made, but there is so much farther to go, so many relationships to build, and so much more to learn.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Introducing Ms. Lang

Hi! I’m Emma Lang, the new Membership Services Coordinator. My first experience working in a museum was in the summer of 2000 as a 14 year old hoop-skirt-wearing house museum volunteer in Concord Massachusetts. From that moment on, I was hooked. Since then I’ve worked in museums as varied as the Shetland Museum and Archive, National Museum of American History, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Los Angeles Maritime Museum (where I was Curator), Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic (Assistant Curator and Registrar), and worked as a freelance exhibit developer and interpretive planner in Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the years, I’ve done everything from collections management, exhibit and interpretive development to programming, and like many of us, I’ve also worked in gift shops, manned the front desk, and helped with building maintenance--ask me about what to do when sea lions decide to move into your museum’s wharf!

I have an MA in Museum Studies from George Washington University (2010) and will have completed an MA Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland this spring. Born and raised in Massachusetts I love discovering the similarities and differences between New England and Atlantic Canada and exploring the history, culture and amazing natural beauty of the region. 

I’m excited to put my years of experience in the museum world to use supporting ANSM members and I look forward to getting to know all of you.  Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or give me a call if there’s any way that I can help. 





Friday, February 26, 2021

February 2021 Update

Welcome Emma!
This week we welcomed Emma Lang as our new Member Services Coordinator. She has hit the ground running and is excited to get to know everyone and get on the road this summer to see your museums and collections in person. You can reach her at our services@ansm email address.

Training Opportunities
Virtual learning continues. The How to be an Ally: Museum version webinar was of such interest that we'll be hosting a second round. Traditional knowledge keeper Jeff Ward is leading the discussions. Tickets are again selling quickly and March 5th is the deadline to register, so don't miss out on this great opportunity.

As mentioned last month, we are in year 2 of our Museum Studies Program rotation and that means Museums 101, Collections Management & Curatorship, and Interpretation I: Public Programming are on offer this year. Museums 101 is coming up next, and will run as a five-part series on Wednesday afternoons, March 31-April 28. Registration will open soon so watch the Beacon and/or follow us on Facebook for the announcement. 

Museum Evaluation Program
The MEP Working Group met this month to select this year's evaluators. Once again we had very strong applications and are confident that this year's teams will be fantastic. The next major step in the evaluation process is to develop the site evaluation schedule. If you are slated for evaluation this year and have staff vacations, events or activities that would impact on your availability from July 6-22, please let me know. The deadline to send in your blackout dates is March 15th, so we can get the schedule out to everyone by April 1st. 

There is so much uploading happening right now. Every day, multiple museums are submitting files for Documentation Review. It's great to see how proactive everyone is being. As I said last month, I work through these submissions in the order they are received, so thank you for being patient if you're awaiting feedback.

The next Deep Dive will take place on March 11th at 130pm. This month we'll be taking a deeper look at Documentation Review submissions - how to organize your files, what to include in your submission (and what not to include), how to complete the Documentation Review form, etc. Click here to learn more about Deep Dives, including how to register.

CollectiveAccess Updates
Advisory Service members now have 328,475 artifacts and 272,377 associated images in their databases. This is an additional 1,806 records and 5,401 images from last month. Amazing. Keep up the good work, and remember to proofread and take your time getting high quality images. Your database is your community memory keeper so let's all make sure that our work reflects that level of importance.

Regionally, here are the stats:
Southwest: 142,764 artifacts, 96,402 images
Central: 104,454 artifacts, 85,505 images
Northeast: 48,893 artifacts, 67,469 images
Cape Breton: 32,364 artifacts, 23,001 images

Congrats to the Northeast region for adding the most records and images this month! Impressive progress!

We are seeing an increase in NovaMuse use which is yet another reason for quality control measures. If you have volunteers, winter student grants, or new staff, please make sure that they are trained in documentation standards (including digitization) and are taking advantage of the help features of the database and that they reach out with any questions. And don't forget to check in with your people. We've had several curators express frustrations about quality of work, only to discover that the workers weren't being supervised adequately. 

Today's image lesson of the month is a halfmodel. What's good about this image is that a contrasting fabric was used for the backdrop, the scale was included and the image was cropped. How could it be a better image? To start, you want the halfmodel to be at the centre of the image, so there is an equal framing (ie equal amount of backdrop fabric) on every side of it. Speaking of the fabric, there are a lot of little wrinkles that become very distracting to the eye. Ironing the fabric and having a lint brush handy for any specs of dust or dirt will really improve the professional look of your photos. There is also a difference in the lighting from the left side to the right side of the frame. If you are working in a room with big windows or light fixtures, shadows can quickly appear. This is when it becomes really important to take your time to set up the shot. You can use blinds on the window, lamps and a lightbox if the object is small enough, or position a photo studio with umbrella lights if you're dealing with something large. You may not remove every single shadow, but try to make the lighting as even as you can. 

African Heritage Month
In case you haven't been monitoring NovaMuse on Facebook or Twitter, this month we've been sharing portraits of African Nova Scotians. Many of these records lacked detail and even identification, but we had a great month of connecting with communities and I'm happy to say that we've rescued 10+ people from anonymity and added context to many of these records. This was a great lesson in the benefits of being transparent about the state of our records. We don't know everything, but there are people out there who can help. All we have to do is start the conversation.

Educational Partnerships
Devlin continues to tackle a variety of projects with us as part of his Algonquin College internship. He's got a great handle on CollectiveAccess now so we'll be branching out into some other areas while still doing some database work here and there. He's made great progress on our long-term data improvement plan, but is also investigating online learning platforms and GLAM initiatives. 

This year's Fleming project has a tighter timeline than usual so even though we launched it last month, we're now in the review stage. It takes a bit of time to sort through the hundreds of records included in the project, but it's so great to see the improvements made by the students, especially on the records that they chose to enrich.

Made in Nova Scotia
Another of Devlin's projects, he has almost worked through our stockpile of Made in NS resources to reconcile - curatorial records of George MacLaren (NSM), research info picked up during our museum travels, community history book excerpts, and much more. He is searching for links in collections as he goes, and is gradually building more connections. When you're entering new records that were made in Nova Scotia, be sure to use this field to link them to the maker's profile. 

NovaMuseEd
This month we added a number of new/old multimedia resources from our QR code project. It's so amazing how previous projects have brought us to this point and we can now repurpose so much content so quickly. Cheryl continues to pick away at some learning activity drafts, and Devlin will be tackling some of this as well, which brings me to our next highlight...

SME Work
Last week Devlin and I had a Zoom call with Ken Adams to talk about geospecimens in museum collections. These are old acquisitions that pre-date the Special Places Protection Act. Ken had a lot to say about these specimens and artifacts, and will be meeting with Devlin again to talk through more details and also give direction on next steps. For any museums' whose collections are included in this work, you will receive a message from Devlin with details of Ken's insights. We are also talking about developing some sort of tip sheet or other resource on this subject, and a learning activity for NovaMuseEd.

Keeping Fresh
We kicked off this month with a CollectiveAccess in Canada meeting. Always great to check in with our counterparts across the country. Plans are afoot to launch a support forum for Canadian CollectiveAccess users, so stay tuned for that announcement.

My evaluation webinar this month came from the Canadian Evaluation Society's Nova Scotia chapter - Pulling back the curtain on an organization's culture of learning and evaluation. 

The final webinar of the month was one of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative's "dreaming of a collections management system" series. To be honest, this series is mostly reaffirming our choice of CollectiveAccess...10 years ago. We are obviously still at the leading edge of databases and don't have many of the frustrations experienced by other museums. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

January 2021 Update

Training Opportunities
In case you missed it, we've decided to continue with virtual training this year. We've just kicked this off with a 3-part webinar series called How to be an Ally: Museum version. Traditional knowledge keeper Jeff Ward is leading the discussions, and we're happy to say that because it sold out so quickly, we'll be doing a second series with Jeff in the Spring. So if you missed this round, keep your eye out for another announcement. This is a good one folks...you don't want to miss out.

In February we'll be hosting a CCI workshop/webinar on the Care of Textiles. If you have textiles in your collection, this is a great chance for you to learn from the experts. 

We are in year 2 of our Museum Studies Program rotation and that means Museums 101, Collections Management & Curatorship, and Interpretation I: Public Programming are on offer this year. We are still settling on dates but there will be two in the spring and one in the fall. If you need to obtain board approval to participate, now is a good time to start conversations around your training budget and priorities.

The best way to hear about upcoming training opportunities is to subscribe to the Beacon and/or follow us on Facebook. Even with webinars we have limited spaces available and they are filling up very quickly. 

Museum Evaluation Program
As I mentioned before the holidays, we are seeing an increase in uploading which is really encouraging. I'm reviewing these submissions as they come in, but as you can imagine it takes a bit of time to read through all the files and information. So if you are waiting for feedback, please be patient, but also feel free to check in if you're wondering where you're at in the queue.

Deep Dives continue on the 2nd Thursdays of the month. The next session takes place on February 11th will take a look at the appeals process - both for evaluation and accreditation. This session will pick up on some information that was referenced in the last session on using your evaluation report but get into the nuts and bolts of ensuring that your evaluation results are accurate and your report will serve your museum well. Click here to learn more about Deep Dives, including how to register.

We opened the call for site evaluators this month, and the deadline to apply is February 12th. If you or someone you know has been working in/with museums for 10 years or more, you might want to consider working with us in this capacity. It's a great learning and giving opportunity. You can download the job description and application from from our website.

CollectiveAccess Updates
The biggest news here is that we have a new contributor to NovaMuse! Devlin put in a lot of hours this month on preparing the Northumberland Fisheries Museum's database for online sharing. It was a great way for him to learn how CollectiveAccess works, and he's a born collections manager so it was a perfect task for him. 

The number of new records and images, not to mention all the editing of existing records, continues to be really impressive. This month 1,351 new records and 6,568 new images were added. It's amazing to see all the image placeholders be filled with actual images of the artifacts - congrats to everyone for the great work in this. Collectively, Advisory Service members now have 326,669 artifacts documented with 266,976 of these records having images attached. 

Regionally, here's how these numbers play out:
Southwest: 142,400 artifacts, 95,047 images
Central: 104,303 artifacts, 84,359 images
Northeast: 47,859 artifacts, 65,163 images
Cape Breton: 32,107 artifacts, 22,407 images

With all these new images going in, be sure to make them the best quality possible. That means scanning 2-dimensional items (think Amazon book cover pictures), and using your scale and backdrop for 3-dimensional items. This bottle is a great example for some lessons. First let's talk backdrop. You should use a light (white or off-white) or dark (dark grey or black) backdrop rather than a colourful backdrop like this red one. Bright colours distract from the object being photographed while a contrasting white or black backdrop highlights an object's features. Secondly, make sure that the item is sitting in its natural position. For this bottle, that means standing it up and photographing it from the front, from a slight top-down angle. You can then zoom in and do detail shots of the label, front, back, top, bottom, etc. The other edit that I would make is to trim some of the excess left and ridge dead space from the image. You want the object to be as centred as possible - the full focus of the photo. As with the image lesson from November, if you follow these rules the artistic detail of the label will really pop. You'll end up with a great image which makes the museum look great by extension.

Educational Partnerships
In case you missed it, Devlin Lemoine has joined us from Algonquin College for his internship. Thanks to everyone who welcomed him via Facebook and blog comments. We've set an ambitious work plan but as we've seen with the Northumberland Fisheries Museum database, he's already proving that he's up to the many tasks. 

We also launched our annual Fleming College project this month (this week actually). This year we have 8 museums and 20 students participating. This means that 200 records are being reviewed, and 20 will be researched to see what extra info can be dug up. I was impressed by how excited and engaged the students were during our orientation session, and look forward to hearing their insights on our collections work. Something different about this year's project is that we have three new members of the Advisory Service participating. This is a great chance for them to have records reviewed as they step into the database and digitization work. 

Made in Nova Scotia
With some extra help around we're again picking up on our Made in Nova Scotia work. The Nova Scotia Museum has partnered with us to share George MacLaren's curatorial files on cabinetmakers, which are proving to be a treasure trove of new info. Devlin is reconciling these files with our Made in NS dataset, and then searching for and linking related artifacts from NovaMuse. As you can imagine, the scope of this work is so enormous that it will never be done. There will also be new information and links to make...just like collections management work.  

This is a good time to remind everyone to use the Made in Nova Scotia field in your database. This is the lookup field that links your object's record to the profile of the manufacturer or maker. Taking this extra step is so important because it makes the content on NovaMuse much richer, helps you to see connections with other museums, and helps to bring makers' works back together. And you can browse on the Made in NS links within your own system, so is a very useful research or exhibit development flag.

NovaMuseEd
We've slowed down a bit of learning activity development, but are still adding more resources to NovaMuseEd. For anyone who's been around for a few years, you might remember our QR code project. We created and repurposed a lot of multimedia content about local stories and artifacts for that project, and now we're adding that content to NovaMuseEd for teachers since they asked for multimedia content and oral histories. We are on the cusp of adding our 100th resource and laying the groundwork for many more. If you haven't yet, reach out to your local schools and let them know about this new, free resource. And ask what resources would be most helpful to the teachers and students. Let's make sure that this initiative continues to be truly collaborative. 

SME Work
Devlin is preparing for a new SME partnership that will look at geological specimens, fossils, and stone tools...basically looking at the rocks in collections. Ken Adams, retired geologist and curator of the Fundy Geological Museum, will be working with Devlin on this project. We've never looked at geospecimens before so it will be really interesting to hear Ken's insights and advice on improving our documentation practices. As with all our SME work, we'll reach out to any museum whose information can be updated, so stay tuned and watch your inboxes. 

Keeping Fresh
One of my goals for this year is to branch out and participate in a wide variety of learning - evaluation methods, non-profit issues, collections management and databases, etc. In addition to our first How to be an Ally webinar, I participated in Propel Nonprofits' Leadership Transitions webinar which was quite interesting, partially because I don't think museums follow the transition timeline and practices that were discussed. It's no secret that museums struggle with succession planning. This webinar showed me that we need to completely shift how we think about our institutional leaders.

Another way that I've been trying to keep fresh (another work plan goal) is to share more about what we do. So this month I submitted two conference session proposals (fingers crossed they get accepted). And we've had two articles released about our work - one talking about NovaMuse and our Advisory Service and the other focusing on our recent Watercolour World partnership

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Introducing Mr. Lemoine

Hello! My name is Devlin Lemoine and I am the new intern at the Association of Nova Scotia Museums this winter. I am in the final semester of the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa and I am very excited to be here experiencing the east coast for the first time. I hope to take in the local culture as much as I can in these strange times, and to take part in and contribute to everything ANSM has on the go.

I have lived my whole life in Ottawa working a variety of jobs from retail and service to business analyst with a focus in enterprise architecture. I went to the University of Ottawa, graduating in 2015 with a B.A. in classical studies and in English. I have been interested in museums and history from a young age and after a period of working in business I decided to see if I could find some way to apply what I had studied to my day to day life. This led me to the Museum Studies Program at Algonquin, which I loved,and has now brought me out east!

I am very excited to be here in Halifax and for the opportunities to learn and to grow that this internship will provide. I cannot wait to learn more about the rich heritage of Nova Scotia and be a part of the ANSM team for the months to come!

~ Devlin

Monday, January 4, 2021

December 2020 Update

Yesterday a friend said that she didn't understand why people got so excited about the end/beginning of a year. January 1st was just another day in her mind. Nothing had changed. While I understand where she's coming from, I quite like the changeover. Since so many museums are closed or fairly quiet in December, it means we have fewer phone calls and emails, giving us the opportunity to tie up loose ends, finish off projects, and close up the office for a couple weeks of much-needed rest. December also means taking stock of the year's activities and carrying out performance reviews. 

2020 was weird to say the least. Taking stock of the year meant analyzing our response to the pandemic, our creativity in troubleshooting and developing alternative plans for various programs and services. In some ways, it made it easier for us to carry out our plans. We had declared the year our 'consolidation year', ie we wanted to organize things a bit better, streamline some operations, and move forward on a few initiatives. Even if things didn't go exactly according to plan, we feel good about what we did. We came up with a plan B for the year's evaluation activities and launched Accreditation, celebrating the first four museums to receive this designation. The CollectiveAccess in Canada discussion group continued to meet and even expanded to include a couple American consortia. We formalized our internship program and hosted 4 remote interns, partnering with two new schools in the process. We established a Teacher Advisory Group (TAG), surveyed NS teachers and launched NovaMuseEd with 87 educational resources, largely thanks to our wonderful interns working closely with museum staff and volunteers. We delivered multiple webinar series and held virtual community chats, giving people opportunities to connect and learn while staying safe at home. And we took advantage of many online learning opportunities ourselves, gaining new perspectives and inspiration for future ANSM efforts. We worked on policies and procedures, refreshed Nova Scotia's content on Artefacts Canada, partnered with Fleming College to review collection records and a spinning wheel expert to enrich those records' content. We also experienced a lot of change within ANSM, saying goodbye to both Jennifer and Sandi, so wrapped up 2020 by reviewing job applications and pondering how our organization is going to change in the coming year. This gave us the opportunity to think about our strengths, our weaknesses, and where we see ANSM going in the coming years. Pondering these questions at the end of such a weird year was actually great timing because we could factor in extraordinary circumstances and experiences rather than our normal work life. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we want to say thank you to all the museums who came along with us for the ride that was 2020 - for joining in on virtual learning, breaking new ground on resources for educators, and sharing ideas on the future of the Advisory Service and ANSM general services. And kudos to those of you who made great strides within your own organizations - from tackling collections backlogs to program development to online fundraising. and much more!
So many of you rose to the year's challenges and we want you to know that your efforts were seen and admired. 

Thinking back to my friend's comments, I see this annual changeover as healthy. As you all return to your museums and work, I encourage you to take stock, think about what you did in 2020 that makes you feel proud, and also what lessens you can carry forward in your work. 

So here's to the new year of 2021!