Shifting to On Demand Blog Posting

The GOEMP Blog has been busy over the last 8 months!

We have been lucky to have the privilege to publish many excellent posts from established and emerging museum professionals across the province of Ontario since the Blog was launched at the beginning of June 2017. From a major collections re-org project to tips on landing a museum job to the Kingston Penitentiary Tour, the topics of each post has been wildly different from the rest. A lot of ground has been covered, and we know there is much more that will be in the future.

The Blog isn’t going anywhere. It’s an important resource and professional development opportunity for EMPs, and we want to ensure there is always a platform for the diverse perspectives offered by the EMP community.

However, the GOEMP Committee has experienced a slow-down in Blog post submissions lately. And that’s perfectly okay – we have come up with a plan.

We will be switching from a bi-weekly posting schedule to an on-demand one. This means that whenever we get a Blog post submission, after it is reviewed and edited, it will be published straight away if there are no more submissions ahead of it. If we receive more than one at a time, we will published them at our discretion and temporarily return to the bi-weekly posting schedule until we run out of content once more.

Heads up: we’re going to be tweaking the Blog Guidelines in the coming weeks to open up topic possibilities to anybody interested in writing a post to submit. We want to make sure they’re as flexible as possible to make the writing and submission process more accessible and easy for everyone.

If you have any questions / comments / concerns, we’d be glad to hear from you. Email ontariogoemp@gmail.com or use the Contact form on our website (feel free to address your message to Madeline, Communications Chair of the GOEMP Committee) and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

And of course, please always feel welcome to submit content! We’re always eager to read anything and everything sent our way.

Blog Call PNG

 

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On The Job With… Nathan Etherington, Programming and Community Coordinator

BY: NATHAN ETHERINGTON
COLUMN: ON THE JOB WITH…
ALTERNATIVE TITLE: HITTING THE RESET BUTTON – GETTING YOUR COLLECTION UNDER CONTROL

Editor’s Note: This “On the Job With…” post differs a little from the past 2 that we have featured, as it covers a few years of the author’s job experience at their workplace dealing with a large-scale collections management project, rather than a single “day in the life.” We hope you enjoy this alternative format. Happy reading!

In May of 2014, my newly elected President of the Board of Directors called a meeting and started it off by saying that we – the Brant Historical Society – couldn’t continue down the road we were on and that we looked like a bad episode of hoarders at our Brant Museum & Archives location.  The President asked what barriers would prevent the museum from reviewing its entire collection, getting rid of things that aren’t in our mandate, and moving collections to different rooms to create more exhibit spaces.

As a museum professional, I realized that these are the type of questions that cause us to have an anxiety attack. They also make us wonder if this was really what we signed up for in museum world in dealing with business managers who have absolutely zero knowledge or professional training in how museums operate.

MetalRoom_Full_Before

The metal artefacts storage room before we got to work. Photo Credit: Nathan Etherington.

All the same, my response was an excited, “Yes! I have been saying that we should do this for the past two years and nobody has bothered to value my opinion or expertise.”  I also knew that few Curators have had experience in mass deaccessioning projects, so it would be a big challenge. However, I could see how keeping big bulky items in an overcrowded museum “steals” space and resources for collections that we would want to take. “Operation Steamroller” had started.

My next response to this call for action was that we be VERY public about what we were doing. Most Curators that I have spoken with in my time offer artefacts on pertinent listservs to other museums if they are undertaking a deaccessioning project, and then they quietly make a trip to the dump to dispose of the rest. To that end, we reached out to the Brantford Expositor – the local news publication – and there was subsequently not a murmur of protest from the local community because of this approach we took.

MetalRoom_Full_After

The metal artefacts storage room after it was emptied. Photo Credit: Nathan Etherington.

In terms of assessing the collection, we took a ruthless approach: Does it help us tell Brantford’s story?  Is it a found object that was used to enhance a display?  Is it in poor condition or we have better examples in the collection?  If it didn’t fit, it went.

When I was formally hired at the Brant Museum & Archives, my first project was the country’s first-ever RE-ORG Project.  We reorganized rooms of disorganized storage and repatriated archival collections from artefacts storage.  Operation Steamroller took all my skills to manage not only the first mass deaccession in the province, but an entire reorganization of the existing 7,500 square feet facility.

Relocated Storage Space

Relocated collections storage space. Photo Credit: Nathan Etherington.

In addition to this, we were challenged to do away with our paper system of documentation and use the PastPerfect electronic collections management software instead. As we processed the collection, we scanned associated documentation and attached it to each artefact’s file in the database.  In this phase of the project, we scanned over 18,000 documents, comprising an astounding 10 GB of data.

Finally, we showed the results of the process that we undertook at the Grand Re-opening of the Museum to the public. This phase of Operation Steamroller is over, but the next phase deals with addressing our archives.  If you would like more information about what this might look like, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email: contactme@nathanetherington.ca.

Exhibit Room

The metal storage room is now a beautiful exhibition space. Photo Credit: Nathan Etherington.