Very proud of my team this month. We were recognized at this years Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) meeting for “working smarter”. In 18 months we trailed 18 new programs, the most successful of which forms the backbone of our current activities. Good job team!
The Street Museum app overlaps historical scenes onto real life street views. Any reader of the AAM’s Museum Magazine recognises this project as one of the Museum of London’s outreach programs designed to move the museum collection out of the “box” of the museum building and into the lives of Londoners and international visitors; and more importantly, non-going museum audiences. StreetMuseum is celebrating 500,000 downloads.
The driving force behind this brain child, Antony Robbins, is in town this week for the digital GLAM event: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.
Tonight’s lecture was really just the kick off for tomorrow’s symposium, held at the University of Melbourne’s star attraction, the Melbourne School of Design.
Right as I started in June, the University of Melbourne initiated it’s Shared Services Implementation Plan in my division, University Services. I was brought on to the “Smoother start ups for research projects” initiative as a subject matter expert – which is a bit of a farce since I’m clearly not an expert at the University’s business (yet). But at the time, I was walking around trying to streamline our team’s local record keeping and no one else wanted the job of representing the International Grants team. There are, however, a few skills acquired along the way that make me useful for a project of this scope. Here’s me doing first take of my 5 second sound bite for the promo video:
Today was the last day of the Californians Connecting to Collections Webinar on Outreach Activities for Collections Care, an initiative of Heritage Preservation, funded through an IMLS grant. Our team participated on a C2C on-site webinar on Grant Writing in 2011 and the growth of the program was palatable. This was a totally different experience for many different reasons.
Undoubtedly the best part of the webinar was the expert lecturers: professionals in fields that I wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to interact with. As an employee of a small museum what are the chances of me running into a museum professional who deals exclusively with media attention? A social media expert who deals exclusively social media? Slim to none: my boss would have to let me out of the museum far more than he is comfortable with. But I still perform all these functions at my institution. The C2C offered a real chance a professional growth. I can’t say enough about it.
Course details a: http://www.connectingtocollections.org/courses/outreach-activities-for-collections-care/
This year I coordinated the Core Documents Program at the IVDM, which involved revising the Museum’s Collections Management Plan, Emergency Management Plan, Ethics Policy, and Institutional Plan to meet the standards set by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). These documents passed the Core Document Review earlier this month, which is the first step of Accreditation through AAM. As part of the program, I coordinated two museum assessments that evaluated the Museum’s operation, documentation, and collections stewardship. The Museum Assessment Program, a program of AAM, and the Conservation Assessment Program, a program of Heritage Preservation, are two national standards programs funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services that provide review by a specialist knowledgeable in best practice and national museum standards.
The MAP helps small and mid-sized museums strengthen operations, plan for the future and meet national standards through self-study and a site visit from a peer reviewer. The MAP hails itself as a “self-motivated program” and I took full advantage. The first six months of this year were devoted to evaluating and re-evaluating our core documents (as defined by AAM’s Core Docu
An aspect of the MAP program is to provide your reviewer with a copy of documents, should your institution have them. As a new institution, this was a good opportunity to broaden our paper trail. I documented many of the policies and procedures we already follow in 10 new documents that guide everything from lab procedures to human resources. They are intended to provide tools with which the Museum can relay our goals and values to the community.ments Verification Program). This was rewarded with extremely supportive comments by our peer reviewer, who said our Collections Management Policy was a “model, excellent policy” and our Emergency Plan was the most thorough he’d ever seen.
The MAP final report recognizes “The Museum is in the midst of professionalizing. It has many strengths, including a very knowledgeable, dedicated, energetic, professional staff …”
During the CAP, we evaluated our conservation procedures with the assistance of Dr. Nancy Odegaard, Arizona State Museum’s Lead Conservator and Head of the Preservation Department – a leader in the field. My specialty is in archives and so the discussions with Nancy were invaluable for moving the archaeology conservation lab toward the highest regional standard.
Today the staff tested one of the recommendations Dr. Odegaard made during her visit in September, I described how we accession items into the museum – using B-72 reversible adhesive and writing numbers to identify the objects – pretty standard procedure. Nancy suggested we type the numbers rather than write them – eliminating the age old museum problem of deciphering handwriting and reading tiny little numbers. A simple but elegant solution. The CAP final report is expected by March 2014.
We picked up our new staff member and our board member insisted we make a small pit stop so that I could see La Jolla Cove. We stopped at the Children’s Pool, a protected cove where the kids and the seals play together on the beach.
Anne has arrived to complete a project to survey the museum archive and establish system by which the papers are digitally linked to the artifact collection through the Past Perfect database. Anne is a recent graduate of Simmons and was at the SAA conference looking for the next step. You can’t get work like this many other places, I told her, you’d better come on out.
One of my goals here is to give professional opportunities that interns can’t receive anywhere else. I want to help them develop programs that showcase their skills. I want them to be able to package themselves so that when they move on to the next place, they can excel. I want them to interact with the youth of the Valley and provide examples for what can be accomplished if you are willing to take a risk.
Anne is the first of 3 interns we plan on hosting in the next few months. Soon we will travel around the region collecting artists’ work as stock for the giftshop and begin creating displays to promote their local galleries and art. Our programming is kicking off again starting with a continuation of the Sundance Festival’s Film Forward program and a massive curation day in celebration of National Museum Day. October will see an art opening and a photography class. We are working to make the museum a place people are comfortable to visit. We are working to make people feel what we do – that this is the most fun museum ever.
Following the watercolor workshops that ended our youth summer programs, we held two hikes into the desert for some plein aire painting. Here’s one of mine of Indian Hill in Anza Borrego State Park.
It was a good end to the slower summer months. At the Society of American Archivists conference I managed to garner a lot of encouraging support for the museum. Simmons College, where I completed my Masters, is very interested in establishing an intern program in Ocotillo.
Back on the home front its time to prep for the influx of visitors known as “snowbirds”. When the desert calms down and becomes more… tolerable…. the annual visitors to the Valley will start filtering back in to take advantage of our unique environment.
With a commitment from a new intern and a plan to stock the gift shop with local art, I’m excited to welcome the next wave of visitors to the new Imperial Valley Desert Museum.
A few weeks ago, I was awarded a scholarship to attend the American Association of State and Local History. The theme “Connecting People to Place” is so appropriate to what we are trying to do at the museum that I wish the conference was tomorrow. My goal over the next few months is to keep our volunteer base engaged and expand their sphere of influence at the museum. I have created a list of projects we need to complete in 3 months and I really need their help to make a dent – there are fourteen 8 1/2 x 11 panels lining the wall of the lab. Connecting them with this fantastic place is going to be a big part of that engagement.
I also got word today that the museum is sending me to the Society of American Archivists conference this year. I’m stoked. I missed the conference last year so I’m happy for the chance to catch up with colleagues. But: it’s “work work work” this year. I’ll be scouting for fellow adventurers who are crazy yet competent and have the vision to recognize an incredible opportunity when they hear it. Last week I shook hands with a Kennedy. Two years ago I lived in the same town with the Kennedys, and had no chance in h&ll of ever meeting one. This is an incredible project. We’ve made whorl-wind progress in the last few months and I’m excited to share what we’ve accomplished and bring on some new people to keep up the pace.