Sunday, October 31, 2021

October 2021 Updates

Reopening Fund for Heritage Organizations 
Has your museum applied for this year's emergency support funding yet? If not, now is the time to do it! This is similar to last year's emergency funding so it is not an onerous process and can be a great boost to your museum's operations. November 29th is the deadline to apply

Museum Evaluation Program
It has been quite a month for the MEP. We had a number of queries about reports, and as I was working through them I got called away to be with my Mom. Her passing and some other issues have kept me from finishing ANSM's responses to these queries. I'm hopeful that things will settle soon so that I can wrap up this work. 

Learning Opportunities
Last week Karin started teaching our Collections Management & Curatorship course online. Since we shifted this year's courses to Zoom, they are being delivered in two hour sessions over five weeks. It's a full class yet again, and we have had some questions about when this course will be offered again, so this seems like a good time to remind how the Museum Studies Program works. We offer 8 courses over 3 years. Museums 101 is offered two of the three years, but all of the other courses are only offered once every three years. When registration opens the courses fill up quickly, usually within a week. So if you are interested in taking part, be sure to plan ahead. Next year we'll be offering Facilities Management, Interpretation II: Exhibitions, and Marketing & Revenue Generation. 

CollectiveAccess Updates
It has been a relatively busy month even as many sites make preparations to close for the winter season. With 1028 new records and 2255 media files being added since our last update in September that brings us to an overall total of 342,766 artifact records and 305,599 associated media files in our members' databases. Here's how things stand regionally:

Southwest: 147,000 artifacts, 104,574 images
Central: 106,378 artifacts, 98,522 images
Northeast: 56,371 artifacts, 76,940 images
Cape Breton: 33,017 artifacts, 25,563 images

Your image lesson of the month is this miniature teapot. There are a few things going on in this photograph that we can learn from to help create a high quality and professional image for the database. You want to make sure to only have your artifact in the frame of the photograph and for that artifact to fill as much of the photograph as possible. Even for larger and/or heavier objects that can't be easily moved for photographing a backdrop can be still be used to help eliminate any background noise or it can be done in any post photographic editing. 

The contrasting background color that we choose for artifact photography is incredibly important! In this photograph we have two different background colors happening. Ideally you want a contrasting backdrop that is neutral in color (black, white, or gray). We also want a smooth background and one that is free from patterns, wrinkles, debris, etc. 

Unless you are taking closeup shots of an artifact, scales are important to help demonstrate the size of an object. If your artifact has multiple components (like a teapot and lid for example) you will want to use a scale for each component when photographing the artifact. Remember to be consistent with the placement of the scale!

Educational Partnerships & NovaMuseEd
We also had an exciting month for NovaMuseEd efforts. Cheyenne and Krystal presented at the Social Studies Teachers Conference, sharing this new resource with about 50 teachers and getting their feedback. And Karin presented NovaMuse at the LAMNS conference. We seem to have been successful in spreading the word and garnering new interest. This month visitors accessed NovaMuseEd resources 1,139 times! That's almost double our previous monthly record. 
Cheyenne has just finished drafting a new learning activity on candy making (yum!) so that will be online soon, and next up she'll be working through some museum resources to translate them to online use. If you haven't yet sent us your school program info or shared your thoughts and ideas for additional resources, feel free to reach out to Cheyenne at project[at] 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Introducing Krystal Tanner!

Oh hey there! My name is Krystal Tanner and I am happy to announce that I am serving as the new Member Services Coordinator. I’ll be filling in for Emma while she is away on parental leave for the next few months.

I’ve been enjoying working in the museum field in a variety of capacities since graduating from Fleming College’s Museum Management and Curatorship program in 2015. My main role has been as the Curator/Manager of Randall House Museum in Wolfville where I started off as the Heritage Interpreter & Guide in 2014. 

My favourite part of any museum job that I’ve had is working with the collection – from digitizing and entering information onto a database to allowing artifacts to tell stories. My favourite memory of museum life would have to be from three years ago when a couple was visiting Randall House and I had a pair of sock stretchers sitting on the table waiting to be photographed. I will always remember how the wife tearfully shared with me a story about her mother-in-law who used to knit wool socks for her husband before she developed dementia. I'd for a lot of years been connecting visitors with objects that belonged to their family members from long, long ago but I’d never once had someone be that overcome with emotion before!

I think about that moment often and I remember why it is that I love what I do. I love all of those personal connections I get to make (I still snail mail with visitors from 5 years ago), I love knowing that when I hold an object that it, at one time, meant something to someone, I love sharing spooky ghost stories, and the list goes on and on. I am very excited to embark on this new journey with ANSM and to find new things that I love about this museum life that I live. I'm looking forward to learning, to growing professionally, to making new connections and most especially I’m excited to eat cake!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Lessons from Mom

"There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it's true, but you haven't told anyone yet." ~Barbara Kingsolver

There is usually a line between the personal and professional worlds, not to be crossed. But one of the things that I love about the museum sector is how relational it is. When we thrive, it is because of the relationships we form, the collaborations we develop, and the genuine way that we care about each other and our work. It feels personal. So here I am, walking through that invisible barrier that screams DO NOT CROSS. 

Last weekend my Mom died. She's had Alzheimer's for years now and so our grief is not that of a sudden, unexpected passing. It has been long and ongoing and is now paired with a strange and uncomfortable sense of relief that she is finally at peace. This does not make it easier to let her go.  

To quote Archer Wallace, "truly great [people] are humble; they think, not of themselves, but of the good they can accomplish." What has struck me over the past week is the breadth and depth of Mom's impact. Whether in her family circle, or as a teacher, tutor or volunteer, she loved and inspired everyone she met by her faith, kindness, patience, and gentle spirit. She lived her life by always asking how the world would be a better place because she was in it. And now, the memories and stories being shared are a testament to the power of this question and her desire to help others. These stories cover her childhood in Hill Grove, Digby County, her studies at Acadia University, her teaching days in southern New Brunswick, and the countless hours she spent on children's programs through Kingston Baptist Church. 

In addition to the therapy of writing and explanation this provides for my recent absence, Mom has a lot of lessons for museums. She was incredibly organized and could create detailed program plans that ensured success. She even wrote how-to manuals so that others could see and learn from the formulas she developed. If she was at the helm she made everyone else feel like their role was important and their contributions valued. If she was teaching or tutoring, she made sure those children felt safe and seen and supported. No matter what she was doing, she approached it with humility and a desire to serve. 

Likewise, great museums are not attention-seeking or self-serving. They look for ways to serve their communities, are attentive and good listeners and sincerely work to understand needs. Not only that, but they seek to understand the underlying causes and reasons for those needs so that they can provide healing and nurturing in deeper, richer ways. They work for positive change and aren't afraid to talk about the pain or issues that have brought communities to their current reality. When museums do this, word spreads and great reputations are built. Their relevance and value are understood and seen. Their humility becomes the great strength of sincerity.

My childhood is filled with memories of community service with Mom; quiet activities that helped those in need. She was adept at reading between the lines, hearing words not spoken, and seeing information not shared. She also rarely said no when asked to help with a cause. Individuals, families, and organizations benefited. How powerful could our museums be if we collectively sought to do the same? To be such attentive listeners that any time a need is voiced or concern expressed that we come together and ask how the museum can help? 

As I navigate my grief and a world without Mom, I can't help but think that I need to be more like her. I need to be attuned to the needs I am seeing and hearing, and listen to the little voice in my head that picks up on words not spoken. And I need to do this in both my personal and professional life. Museums exist to serve our communities. We too should be asking ourselves how the world will be a better place because we are in it.