Archival Meanderings

Summer is sure flying by here at the archives! The museum is buzzing with activity, and more and more researchers are making their way into the archives to hash out the details of the past. The influx of new visitors has had me quite busy responding to research requests, dissecting census records, squinting at the fine print of old newspapers on the microfilm reader, and meandering between the lines of land records and abstracts. 

In my spare time, I have been processing a variety of collections, discovering interesting bits of L&A history along the way. I have been working my way through a collection of miscellaneous items, donated individually over the years. Anything from ephemera of past election campaigns, to invitations and programs for community events, to advertisements for local businesses…

I thought I’d highlight a few of those bits and bobs here, to give you a sense of the broad range of records in our collections that can be located using our online PastPerfect database

I’ve come across school year souvenir cards like this one, given to students of Factory School, School Section 7, Ernestown Township, in 1915, with student, teacher, and trustee names inside.

2_2.jpg

3_1.jpg

I’ve come across a broadside advertisement for an 1865 concert at the Switzerville School Room in Ernestown, and seventy year old ticket stubs and a timetable for the Amherst Island ferry.

4c.jpg    

5.JPG

Another fun find was a book from the early 20th century with inspirational quotations inside, encouraging the reader to “Be Strong”. This is one of a series of The Trotty Veck Messengers, inspired by a character in Charles Dickens’ “The Chimes”. The booklets were meant to be mailed as a gift to a friend in need of cheer and motivation.

7.JPG

 

After tidying up some of the odds and ends in the vault, I am on my way to the next project…digitizing a scrapbook belonging to the Johnston family and photographs from the early days of Gibbard Furniture, including a striking photo from September 1907 of a group of Gibbard employees sitting outside the factory. Some of the photographs in the collection I have had to deframe and transfer to polyester sleeves to help preserve them longer. Tasks like this, which at first glance seem mundane, are secretly what I look forward to most. There is something so satisfying about wrestling with the old frames, removing rusty nails and hardboard, then tidily arranging each photograph in a clear polyester casing to allow for safe handling in the reading room. 

9_2.jpg10_0.jpg
  
As the pandemic begins to feel farther from us, I look forward to seeing more of you in the archives reading room to explore local history! Go ahead and book your visit here

What is Your Love Story?

Confessions of a Curator

I know, I know….love… (cheese alert) who wants to read about that? Honestly, I think we all do (maybe some of us in secret). I think we are all a bit romantic at heart and we all want to hear happy stories that bring smiles to faces and bear witness to that bit of glossed over mooniness that washes over us as we tell the tales of how we met our significant other, or how our parents or grandparents met.  A good love story is the ultimate icebreaker  -“So how did you guys meet?” is often one of the first conversations we have with potential new friends.  Everyone wants to share that story. 

 

The Personality of an Exhibit

The emotion in our personal stories bring our museum exhibits to life. We are a community museum, we want to tell our community stories. The stories we share do not always have to be historically heavy. Sometimes they can just be light, funny, endearing, whimsical, heartfelt…it is these kind of stories that help define the communities within this County. I truly believe it is these quirkier stories that lend themselves to some personality and relatability within the museum.

This summer’s new exhibit “Affectionately Yours” will reveal some personality through local love stories that we have discovered in the museum and archival collections.   After this very long COVID year, I wanted to have a fun exhibit that brings joy, brings a bit of sweetness, and perhaps a bit cheese for us to grin at because I think we are all missing our personal connections. 


Karl and Hazel.jpg

We have discovered love letters, love tokens, jewelry, quilts, wedding apparel, valentines, journals and photographs. We have stories of happily ever afters, sadly there are also stories of love lost and some love that is broken. But who is say those sad and broken loves aren’t worth the telling, some of our history’s greatest love stories have not ended in happily ever after.
 

Love note replacement.jpg

 

Coconut Power

Okay, I won’t be chicken, I will tell you a bit of mine…. I met my husband, Greg, in high school, yep…that’s right, high school.  In 1995, at our grade 13 prom, our group of friends were leaving to go to the after party. While in the parking lot, we were goofing around with some coconuts (it was a Hawaiian themed prom). Greg’s date asked me to throw her the coconut.  Well I guess my baseball days got the better of me, so I did!   BUT, she instead of palming it, she caught it right in the face. I swear I truly felt bad.  Did I subconsciously want to knock my competition out of the game?  We have been examining my coconut throw for years! 

I guess I must have impressed him with my shot – because Greg called me and asked me out for a movie. Twenty-six years later,  we have- lived in our first tiny apartment, graduated university, married, coped with a chronic sickness, built a house (for reals  like we  hauled drywall, hammered stud walls, laid flooring, lifted trusses built it!), travelled parts of the world, had 2 babies, settled into careers, and we are still holding onto this crazy ride of ours. What makes it so wonderful is that to this day neither one of us can look at a coconut without laughing!  Don’t worry- Greg’s date was fine…she went onto to have a love story of her own.  

 

Do You Have A Story To Share?

Okay so I just shared a tidbit my love story, can you share yours?  I want to hear it. I really do! I would love to include your story in this exhibit. Furthermore, do you have an object that represents your love?  Can you guess what my object would be?  Yes, that’s right…a coconut. What is your object?   It doesn’t have to be traditional or practical…It just has to be the object that brings your love to mind!  

As always with the exhibits that I curate, I leave a bit for you to curate too. I love the mix of old and new with my exhibits, our present (along with our past) has important stories to tell, so I always want to make sure we include it. 

Has your love story shifted? Did it break or was it lost?  These are also important stories to tell. It is this story that shaped you.  Let me know if you have something and let’s discuss it, I may include it in the exhibit, along with your story. Email me at museum@lennox-addington.on.ca .  
Come now, be brave!  I just told you I threw a coconut at someone!

Call All Romantics.png

On Becoming an Archivist

It’s been about a month since the latest provincial lockdown ended for our region, and about a month that Museum & Archives staff have been back in the building. Working from home feels like a distant memory, and thankfully so – the last month has brought about so many new learning opportunities for me here at the Archives! Since being back, my greatest feat has been finishing arranging and describing my third fonds, an arduous but rewarding task, taking boxes of unorganized materials and establishing a file folder for each item down to the last scrap of paper, making sure that each item is retrievable by researchers.

I have also finished digitizing a collection of oral history tapes, a series of interviews originally recorded on cassette tapes, where students spoke with residents of Amherst Island in the 1980’s about their experiences growing up on the island. These cassette tapes, readable by fleeting technology, are now saved in .mp3 format in the Archives’ digital vault. Along the way, between flipping from side A to B, I have had the chance to listen to some of these unique and heartfelt stories about rural island life throughout the twentieth century. 

Photo 1 and 2.jpg
 
In addition to completing these two projects, I have gained a number of practical processing skills. I have learned how to digitize glass plate negatives, transforming cloudy inverse images on rugged pieces of glass into lovely black and white photographs of early twentieth century L&A. The task seemed daunting at first, but with careful handling, a scanner equipped with a transparency unit which allows light to penetrate through the negative, and a tad bit of photo editing, the results were a success. 

Photo 4 and 5.jpg
          
I have also been busy encapsulating fragile textual records, most recently a collection of broadsides. Encapsulation is simply  the act (or perhaps art) of smoothly securing a paper item between two sheets of stable plastic with double-sided tape, giving support and rigidity to the paper to avoid potential damage during handling, while protecting the item from dust and other environmental stressors. 
I recently learned how to accession, which is just a fancy word for processing new items coming into the collections. Inputting the necessary paperwork into our database and describing the items coming into the Archives’ care to ensure no provenance details or information from the donor is lost in the process. I have had a lot of fun collaborating with the museum too, finding records that support the museum artifacts that will be on exhibit in late spring… 

Photo 6 and 7.jpg
     
Lastly, one of my recent responsibilities at the Archives, and what I am most excited about, is responding to research requests. I have to say, this is what drives me to work in the archives field! It is so satisfying when someone comes to you, whether it be with vague ponderings about their family’s lineage or something specific like locating a loved one’s obituary in a back issue of a newspaper, and you are able to help bring that researcher one step closer to understanding their family’s history. Questions about land are neat too, people looking for information on a specific home or property, curious about farming or industry that may have taken place in their neighbourhood, looking to history to connect further with the place that they live. Responding to research requests has had me bouncing around the PastPerfect database, the vault, and the reading room – pouring over history books and genealogies, searching for one specific person or piece of history, gaining a deeper knowledge of the Archives’ holdings in the process. I continue to be impressed by the wealth of information that is available to the public just at this one small municipal archives! It is pretty amazing. 

Photo 8 and 9.jpg
     
My time here at the Archives may be coming to an end soon, but I feel so lucky to have gained so many new skills and to have had such a valuable work experience with incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers that work so hard to maintain this vibrant public institution.

Back to Where the Artifacts Are

I am happy to say that I am writing this blog from my desk actually inside the museum building. Cue celebratory fireworks! Having travelled through the twilight zone of working from home for the first time, I have come out the other side refocused, reenergized, and really really happy to be back.

I thought I’d talk a little bit about what I actually did at home considering the very valid question of “how do you inventory furniture without access to the furniture?” My first couple weeks were getting to dig deeper into the furniture I had already inventoried, this entailed cleaning up their database entries, and researching into the history of these artifacts. This in an effort to get them ready to upload onto our online searchable collection. One of my favorites, is a unique little stool that not only illustrates Victorian style, but is made with animal horns, and how neat is that? The history of this stool can be found here

Image 1 stool.JPG

After I had worked my way through all the furniture I had already inventoried, I got to take a break and stretch my digitally creative muscles. Working with the curator I helped create new designs for our information panels in the lower courtyard. Eventually I got to research a variety of other artifacts from within our collection including textiles, dishware, and a WWII gas mask. All told it was an interesting experience that I’m hoping will not be repeated in the near future, but in times like these I’m not getting my hopes up too high, and my home office area will remain setup.

Now though, out of pajamas, into the office chair, and ready to go, I am getting back into the swing of things. Coming back to the museum I was delightfully reminded of how close I am to inventorying the final piece of furniture on my list, 22 artifacts to go, to be exact. This may seem like a lot but considering this inventory encompasses 216 artifacts, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Image 2 scan.jpg

Now having been back at the museum for a few days I am reminded of the care that goes into each and every artifact, even with an inventory of this size. For every artifact I have done a hand written assessment where the artifact is described in detail, measured, all condition concerns noted, and photos taken. Using the information and photos, I create a report on the artifact, which includes all the information and photos from the assessment, with the addition of any history and significance that is known about the artifact. The information is then organized into a category such as ‘farming equipment’ or ‘desks’ in one document, and is organized by date in another. Finally that artifact’s entry in our database is updated to include the new information. After all that I get the satisfaction of knowing I helped it on its way to telling its Lennox and Addington County story.

Image 3 Hallway.jpg

One artifact I truly enjoyed working with since I’ve been back at the museum is a withers yoke. I had the chance to do some research into what exactly that was, besides a yoke that sat on a whither. First off I got to learn what an ox is. I bet anyone who’s grown up on a farm is having a good chuckle at that, but when I hear ox I think musk ox. It turns out those two aren’t even living in the same house on the tree of life but are a branch or two away. But just incase you too are not familiar with cattle, an oxen is a castrated male cattle. These ox and their yokes had a huge impact on Canada up until the 20th century. The docility, low center of gravity, and brute strength of oxen helped Canadian’s clear land, plow fields and more. Just a few fun facts you can share while you’re waiting for your virtual meetings to start!

Image 4 Yoke.jpg

Overall I am thrilled to be back among the artifacts, and reminded of what a privilege it is to get to help take care of our county’s history! 

What’s a CD? (And other hard questions at home)

And other hard questions at home

Here we are again, at home, wondering how we all ended up in the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. If you missed JoAnne’s blog about her experience working from home, make sure to check it out. Below is a picture of my workstation at home. Between JoAnne and I, our home offices are very different.

Yes, I am using a folding card table tucked into the corner of my bedroom where I hide from my young children lest they figure out I’m in the house working away on the digital side of my job as archivist. The table has a soft top forcing my choice in coffee mugs to be a very important one (strong base needed).

A huge part of the digital side of what we do is uploading records for our collection into the online database. Michelle Barclay, our archival intern, and I are working on getting as many photographs online as possible. I won’t go into too much detail here but we’re adding records every week to the database,so keep watching.

Combined 1.jpg

Where the magic happens at home and an example of what can be discovered in our online database.



This time tucked away with my card table has also given me an opportunity to delve into how the archives moves forward with a digital preservation plan. Before I lose you, let me explain. We want our digital records to be accessible long after the technology required to access them is obsolete. Think VHS players. What do you do with a VHS tape without a VHS player? Unless you’re lucky enough to have the technology to convert a VHS tape to a digital file, you pay an expert to do it. What happens when the digital technology becomes obsolete to play those converted VHS files, and so on, and so on, you get the point. A preservation plan ensures that the digital files are always accessible to you, the people for which we collect and preserve the stories of Lennox and Addington.

Combined 2.jpg 

The chest at the end of my bed holding decades worth of records in varying formats.



This project got me thinking about my own records. From the card table, I stare at the chest that holds my personal and family archive every day. One evening I opened the chest and pulled out CDs that contain digital photographs from my travels between 2004 and 2008. I lived in South Korea at that time, and travelled much of Southeast Asia. You can imagine the immense loss I would feel if the technology to view those went obsolete. We do strange things in the moment sometimes, like printing out hundreds of photographs because we don’t have a digital preservation plan (in my defense, I was a year away from starting my archival education when I did this).

Combined 3.jpg

When I pulled the CDs out of the box, I exclaimed, “oh, the photograph CDs” to which my daughter asked, “What’s a CD?” 



Tough question. I lazily made up some jargon about how it holds information, could be music, could be photographs but she’s five. I could’ve told her it was a portal to Disney World and got the same response: glazed eyes and skipping feet right out of the room. Luckily, about four years ago, when my laptop at the time had a CD port, I transferred these photographs to an external hard drive (no more printing!). And guess what the experts say about the lifespan of an external hard drive? Five years. FIVE YEARS! 

What do we do with this stuff when CD and DVD ports don’t come standard on laptops anymore and external hard drives have a short lifespan? The best we can, that’s what. You make bad decisions like printing photographs as a means of preservation and evaluate that plan a decade later. Right now, for me, it’s hoping the five year lifespan on an external hard drive is a worst case scenario with a transfer of files to a new hard drive in a few years. For the Lennox and Addington County collection, we ensure its longevity with the right technology that can bring it into the future. We will find a way to catapult the two hundred plus year old collection into the future two hundred years from now.

Why do I still have CDs and printed photos plus digital copies on a hard drive? Hard to let the backups go, I guess. I’ll keep plugging away at the L&A Archives digital preservation plan while keeping notes for future work on my own.

Homework 2.0

Confessions of a Curator

Well hello again, you caught me…I am wearing my leggings again and passing them off as pants for the third week in a row, at various times in those weeks, I have quite honestly have lost what day it is, and have had to seek those answers from my new co-workers, Molly (my terrier mix) and Rory (my cat), they don’t usually answer me back and they also don’t know much about collections management or exhibit design…so some days my struggle for real feedback is real! 

MY COWORKERS.jpg

I came home the last week of December to prepare for this second lockdown by shoving my daughter’s art supplies to one side of her art table in the kid’s playroom, and carved out a 3 x 4 space to call my office for the next little while. Yes, I work among American Girl dolls, toy food, art books, bottle and bottles of paint and glue. However, while I work among Anna’s colourful art, I find I can lost in my work day, so I sigh a bit of relief.

Thankful to our I.T. Department and my VPN connection that allows me continued access to our museum database. Working from home means – cleaning up collection entries and prepping them for their online launch, or I could be seen on another Zoom call to meet with the museum team, organize incoming exhibit installations, or participating in educational webinars and training sessions. In the last week, I have even delved into a new software to help me work on some interpretative labels for museum exhibits. I am not a graphic designer, but I dabble, and it gives me a break from collections management. 

So while I juggle my work day, I have two school aged children who also need my support, they need help – logging into their virtual classrooms, uploading assignments, checking math work, advising subject matters, finding online resources, and they also need lunch!  Believe me these kids want to eat all the time, I have devised some buffet style eating in my kitchen that has been a life saver!  If food is out, I will be left alone. Note to parents: now is a good time to teach your child how to start a load of laundry and cook a simple meal! 

HOME LIFE.jpg

In the past few weeks, Alannah and I have managed to get 60 more objects online for you to enjoy. As you know, this past Fall, we have been working on the inventory of the furniture collection. While we are working from home, we have managed to continue to do our review of these records and get some of their stories out there.  The lockdown has afforded us the gift of time to tidy the database. What does this mean to you?  It means updated search terms, correct spellings, photographs (we have over 2500 object images online), and the inclusion of a relevant object story (aka why do we have this). This editing takes time. Each object can take 3-4 days to complete. Which is why there aren’t 1000s of our museum records out there yet…quality takes time. Take a look at this one in PastPerfect.

Stages of an Object1.jpgWorking from home is just that – work. I continue to work away at Past Perfect, sort out the museum exhibit schedule that has been continuously bumped around by COVID, revamp design labels for our existing exhibits, and support the museum team through written blogs, social media posts, webinar courses, and grant writing.  While closed, the museum remains quite active behind the scenes. We continue to plan for when the doors re-open and onsite everything returns.  

Things I miss – TRAVEL and SUMMER! I was an avid traveller and fully intend to be again. I miss the excitement of discovering new things and while I love my backyard, some days it just doesn’t cut it. So I have discovered the joy of virtual vacationing, which has only added to my bucket list of things to visit.  Here is a great article that will perhaps lead you down a few rabbit holes of enjoyment – The 12 Best Virtual Vacations You Can Take From Your Home (tripsavvy.com) 

virtual meme .jpg

 

Health Tips from your trusty Curator – go for a walk, step away from your screens, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, try a virtual yoga class, call a friend, and yes it’s okay to sometimes scream into your pillow!  

So for the time being , check out our website www.countymuseum.ca for online research resources, contact us if you need help. Amber has some online programming up her sleeve to keep you entertained at home too. I will “see” you one way or the other very soon, take good care and stay safe! 

Starting the New Year (not quite at the museum)

As we all look toward what 2021 will bring, I am reminded of a new year’s eve toast made by one of my favorite TV characters; Sherman T. Potter of M*A*S*H*. While the quote has nothing to do with museums I thought I’d share it none the less; “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a [darn] sight better than the old one” I think the sentiment of this quote is on everyone’s mind as we celebrate this year in lockdown. However, as a very hard headed believer that the glass is half full if you only look at it from the right angle, I am determined to believe that 2021 will end in higher spirits than 2020.

Now while Covid-fatigue has returned right in time for the holidays, I am still jazzed to get to continue working for the museum over the winter. For the time being by work station is being moved from the museum to my home, where my new co-workers are a goofy 2 year old pup named Maggie who does not necessarily respect personal space in the office, and a ridiculously photogenic little gecko name Cheeko. Having never worked from home, I am going to be frantically Googling tips for remaining focused, but I am looking forward to giving it a go. 

Alannah Blog Photo 1.jpg
  
However, bringing it back to the museum I am excited to say I am coming down to the last dozen or so artifacts in the furniture inventory, and because I’m a little astounded by the number I’m going to put it here: as of late December, 188 artifacts have been identified, located, photographed, and their condition’s assessed. This collection has included a diversity of artifacts from settees, to washing machines, to tea trolleys, and as of right now has included a whopping 49 chairs, and 13 desks. I have learned what melodeons, dough troughs, and mortisers look like, as well as a variety of other pieces of furniture. This project has included getting to learn not only a significant amount about the community but also about the museum itself. I found a group of chairs that were used in the reading room when the it was located in the upstairs, now office portion of the museum. I hadn’t visited the museum and archives before it was renovated and the new section built, so this was a really interesting glimpse into what the building used to look like.

Alannah Blog Photo 2.jpg
  
This project has not been without its frustrations though. I remember I came across about 10 artifacts in a row, one week, which had no numbers on them, possibly because they were once on exhibit or for other reasons. When I come across an artifact without an associated number it’s time to don my detective cap and go to work; meaning it’s time to search the database for a description that would fit the artifact. Sometimes this only requires me to search a very specific key word and read through maybe a dozen records, however sometimes there are no specific features to search so I need to read through every, record that is associated with the term chair, for example, and believe me there are a lot. All frustrations in mind, I couldn’t think of a job I’d rather be doing! It has been a fantastic experience to get to know a collections so closely, and boy have I gotten good at identifying esoteric pieces of furniture, a skill I am certain will serve me well as my career moves forward.

Alannah Blog Photo 3.jpg
               
To everyone, may 2021 bring you a glass that is more than half full.

Remembering From a Distance 

A young soldier’s letter collection reminds us why being apart for Remembrance Day matters

Remembrance Day ceremonies and events are not immune to COVID-19 and will be different this year. The National Ceremony Committee in Ottawa is discouraging crowds to gather in person, and the Napanee ceremony around the cenotaph at the Courthouse is moving to a streaming platform. Typing those words feels cold and disrespectful but for the service men and women we honour on this day, it’s exactly right. They fought and fight for the safety of Canadians, and we need to do the same.

There are many ways to honour veterans and the fallen outside of traditional ceremonies. Our vaults here at the Museum and Archives are evidence of that. We have everything from uniforms and boots worn by a local soldier to photographs and war correspondence. By preserving the objects and records that tell their stories, we’re always doing our part to ensure those stories live on and are remembered.

RembranceDay1.jpg

2019.10.01  Artillery boots, William Beeman, 1914-1918
N-1811  Hazel H. Denyes, nursing sister [1916]
N-1832  Alfred Eklund of Newburgh, [1915]



Years ago, while researching a topic on the Second World War, I stumbled on a collection of letters written by Roland James Saundercook, a young man in active service for the Royal Canadian Air Force, and I have never forgotten them. His letters written home to his family are, at first glance, a mundane account of weather and troop movements. Dig deeper and you start to realize Roland Saundercook, not yet 20 years old, is feeling homesick and dreaming of the time spent with his family in Collins Bay. 

“How is Joannie coming at school now I hope good, sometimes I wish I was trotting 2 miles to the old school. I did[n’t] realize it then, but I had a lot better time then, then I do now and how.”

 

RembranceDay2.jpg

Letter, Roland J. Saundercook to his family, October 20, 1944



Included with Roland’s letters is correspondence between various war offices and his family. Roland and his flight crew were missing in action over Germany after a nighttime flight exercise in March, 1945. The family received heartbreaking telegrams and letters about their missing son and the efforts the military was taking to locate him. In the following years, the family did everything in their power to locate Roland by submitting packages of information to various war offices, hoping a member of personnel in some office, somewhere, might connect the dots and send word Roland was found safe and sound. It wasn’t until March 4th, 1948, that the family finally received confirmation their son was killed in a crash that fateful night three years earlier in Germany when his plane went missing.

 

RembranceDay3.jpg

Roland J. Saundercook outside his house in Collins Bay
Royal Air Force Station letter about missing air crew, March 17, 1945
Royal Canadian Air Force letter about Missing Research and Enquiry Service, March 4, 1948



Few people have read Roland’s letters. It is with great honour and deep respect that we share those letters here. These letters don’t tell the complete story of Roland Saundercook or the trauma his family endured, but a morning spent with his entire collection here will.

This Remembrance Day, truly honour the legacy of service women and men like Roland Saundercook and their families, by staying home, staying safe, and watching a live stream ceremony. 

Just ZOOMing Along

Confessions of a Curator

As a person who is reluctant to engage in much technology, this COVID world of streaming everything has kick started my anxiety sky high. While I understand our need for digital connections, my need for real world experiences weighs heavily as I struggle with the balance. To Zoom or Not To Zoom is the question these days.

ZOOM MEME.jpg

I am a history nerd to the max, I like to read a lot, I like to roam other museums, antique stores, used bookstores, and I enjoy CBC radio over television. Further to this, I cannot even tell you what is “binge worthy” and 6 months ago if you had asked me to Zoom anywhere, I would have assumed you wanted me to walk faster or join a fitness class!

My whole life is about unplugging and disconnecting.  If it requires me avoiding large gatherings, working by myself or in small teams, and burying my nose in a book, I am your gal.  So honestly, COVID and I are kind of made for each other.  Don’t get me wrong, I do engage, I have meaningful conversations, I like to laugh, and enjoy an afternoon coffee with friends…but I am BIG on the retreat back to solitude.

COVID has quieted our halls but the reality is that museums need people. We exist for people to come in and gaze, wonder, learn, and imagine. We are the place that wants to inspire and remind you of all the special things that the world around you values.  What is a museum curator to do when people stop coming? I have been thrown into a world where my very job is now reliant on me learning how to plug in and connect – how do I do this?  If the masses cannot come out to enjoy the collection on site, then I have to bring the collection to the masses.  This means things like Facebook and Instagram Lives, YouTube, and Zoom everything….cue my hives and nervous tick now!

FACEBOOK DEMO.jpg

In the past 6 months, we have had to modify museum visitation- this includes how you experience exhibits, the Reading Room, and programs. We are now appointment based, we have removed contact points in the exhibits, we wear masks, and we have worked through about a thousand Zoom calls to figure this out.  Do you have any idea what planning an entire exhibit through Zoom is like? 

VIARA MILEVA.jpg

In the meantime, I have been busy working behind the scenes. The quiet has given me time to clean up parts of the collection – we finished a significant conservation project with our textile collection this summer. We inventoried, wrapped, and photographed most of our quilt collection (105 items) and uploaded these images to our online database which you can check out here.

Quilt Collage.jpg

A rather overwhelming project we have started is the inventory of the furniture collection.  The cleaning and sorting of 100s of these large objects is daunting.  Confirming associated provenance, applying missing accession numbers, updating the database and organizing the storage room is a big job. Funding from Young Canada Works has allowed me to hire a graduate intern to help me carry this heavy load. This project will take several months to complete. 

FURNITURE STORAGE.jpg

As you can see, I am trying to balance the pull between online and unplugged. It seems like a fine line between my sanity and insanity. I go home fatigued and worried that the museum will somehow become irrelevant, which I guess just pushes me harder to get the collection out there in different ways. I hope this virus soon passes, I miss the noise and bustle of the museum. This time of year is always the  busiest with hundreds of school kids visiting us…there is a melancholy to the museum halls right now.  

WE ARE OPEN, we miss you, and book your visit today we have a couple new exhibits waiting for you.  Be sure to check us ZOOMing along with our digital holiday programs coming very soon!

A Glimpse into an Artifact Inventory

It is baffling how much goes on behind the scenes in museums, so I thought I’d bring you along while I go through the steps of an inventory for a single artifact. This single artifact is part of the larger furniture inventory happening at the museum. First off, why would a museum be doing an inventory? This is one of those questions that has a million correct answers but more than anything else the answer is because it’s a good idea. By doing in-depth inventories we can make sure we know exactly where each artifact is, we can track potential damage, and we can make sure our database reflects up to date information about the artifact.

Line of trunks (2).JPG
                                    
Let’s look at one of the trunks in the furniture collection. The first step for the artifact is to find the Object ID number. Museum artifacts have a unique number associated with them, these numbers are always very small and are located in a discreet location, making them quite tricky to find at times. Once I’ve identified the artifact, I measure the trunk and describe it in enough detail that it can be recognized. Next the location of the trunk is recorded so that the next person who is looking for it knows exactly where to find it.

Trunk Description.jpg
   
Following this is I look over the artifact making notes on its condition. Are there dents? Scratches? Stains? A centimeter by centimeter inspection is completed of the artifact until every area of damage has been located, described, measured, and photographed. Artifacts have usually had a long life before coming to the museum and often have signs of wear and tear; we describe any damage present on the artifact so we can track its condition across time. 

Condition Report Template.jpg


                
All the information and photographs of the artifact are put into one document called a Condition Report. This allows museum staff to look just at the one document and know exactly what artifact it is, its number, where to find it, and what condition it’s in. The final steps are to update our electronic database with anything new about the artifact, and add the artifacts story, gathered from the database, to the condition report.

Gibbard Gallery (5).JPG


 
This process will be repeated for much of the furniture in the museum’s collection, including every piece in the Gibbard Gallery, on display at the museum. This is definitely not a quick process but 55 artifacts in and I still think it’s incredible that I get to work closely with such a diverse collection.

Museum hours

Monday – Saturday: 10am–5pm

Macpherson House & Park hours

Open for tours in the summer

Archives Hours

Monday – Friday: 10am–5pm

Museum and Archives daily rate

Adults: $3
Children under 12: free

All service fees are based on a cost recovery model. Factors such as the physical condition of the records and copyright restrictions may prevent some or all of the reproduction processes from being offered.

Museum & Archives location

97 Thomas St E, Napanee, ON K7R 4B9

Macpherson House & Park location

180 Elizabeth Street, Napanee, ON K7R 1B5