Alaska State Museums Bulletin 74

Printable Version

Contents:

A Museum Move Lesson
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

A Museum Move Lesson:  A Moving Experience is Also Physical

A perspective from Lisa Golisek, Alaska State Museum Protections and Visitors Services Manager (aka Admin Move Branch Team Leader)

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It’s March 2014 and we are in the midst of the Alaska State Museum’s “big move.” As mentioned in previous bulletins, the move encompasses relocating the Alaska State Museum’s collections, staff, supplies and equipment by May – just a few months away.  We have developed two main branches under which teams have been established to handle the move; the collection move branch and the Admin move branch.  Between the two branches everything in the museum will be moved. The Admin Move Branch team, like the collections branch team, is amazing and has years of experience with the museum, I would never want to go through a move without their professional knowledge and skills, however we are definitely a brains over brawn group.  This is where moving companies play a role. We value our move team for their intellect, but we needed contracted movers for their muscle and youthful energy.

move stuff

To save yourself time, money, chaos, and keep the museum safe and secure, I submit the attached checklist in preparation for working with a move company.

Preparing to Move with a Contracted Moving Company:

  • Delineate a space to stack materials near the freight door for transfer out of the building
  • Inventory items to be moved and make a checklist of the order you want the items moved. Include pickup and delivery stops if there are multiple destinations
  • Create a move plan and go over it with the moving company supervisor when you schedule a move.
    • The plan should include:
      • List of items and the dimension and/or cubic footage of material to be moved
      • Perceived challenges associated with the move, such as a 3’x4’x3’ cabinet that needs to be moved up a flight of 40-inch wide staircase with a landing and a turn at the top
      • Estimate on time to accomplish the move. Experience is the best teacher on how much time you will need to budget for the move.  If you are a novice to working with a moving company, discussing the move plans in advance will allow them to determine a time estimate
      • List of equipment and supplies the company needs to provide including the truck! Lift gates, straps, moving blankets, hand trucks, palette jacks, suction cups for moving glass are equipment you’ll need to request or they likely won’t bring it
  • If the move is complicated and involves sensitive, confidential or irreplaceable objects, schedule a walk-through with the movers and ask the company for background checks on employees. Avoid working with contractors that have convictions of theft and vandalism in particular
  • Outline all the locations for pickup and delivery
  • Have one museum employee in charge of the movers at a time. Too many directors definitely leads to confusion, poor rapport, and slows the process
  • The employee in charge should escort the movers and oversees their work at all times.  Lack of supervision escalates the potential for damage and loss

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When the movers arrive:

  • Sign them in, provide badges, go over security rules that apply, and make copies of their ID’s particularly if they are working with them in secured areas and they are assisting with a collections move
  • Provide the movers with a checklist of what needs to be done in the order it needs to happen
  • Show the movers the items to be moved and give them the opportunity to suggest or make changes to the order and methods of moving the objects if possible
  • Describe the contents of boxes and explain moving requirements and your expectations for handling the items.
  • Oversee what is being put in the truck so the movers don’t pick up pile in the wrong items.  Document what’s going in the

Two lessons learned from working with contracted movers during our office moves :

  1. You can expect moving equipment and supplies with a contracted moving company to require some of the same planning and coordination required for moving collections.
  2. You will likely suffer from some of the same obstacles and emotions involved with moving museum collections objects.


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Ask ASM

Question:  We have a 100-year-old rusted steel flask of mercury in our heated museum building.  It is the size of a medium coffee thermos and holds about a cup of mercury.  Are we being foolish to keep the mercury?  If so, what should we do with it?

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ASM: You will need to dispose of it properly. It should not be a part of your museum collection.  Mercury does evaporate and the gas it forms is very toxic.    I would suggest contacting the state department of environmental conservation and ask them about the proper way to disposed of it.  They have a whole page dedicated to mercury on their website.

http://www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/mercury/

The contact is Mariena Brewer 907-269-1099 mariena.brewer@alaska.gov

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Shaking the Money Tree

Museums Alaska

Collections Management Fund

This year, $100,000 in grants will be available to museums and cultural centers in Alaska for collections management supplies and activities. The goal is to build capacity for managing collections through professional expertise, training, and conservation materials and supplies.

The deadline to submit grant applications is Monday, March 31, 2014.

The next deadline will be September 30, 2014.

Applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit, government, tribal entities or equivalent organizations that hold collections in the public trust, such as a museum or cultural center. Small, rural-based organizations are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to projects that are collaborative or cooperative in nature. Emergency conservation projects will be given priority. Membership in Museums Alaska is encouraged but not required.

You must apply online only through the link below.

Collections Management Fund Application 2014

Collections Management Fund Guidelines 2014

NEH

PRESERVATION ASSISTANCE GRANTS FOR SMALLER INSTITUTIONS: GUIDELINES NOW AVAILABLE!

The deadline for applications is May 1, 2014.

The National Endowment for the Humanities’ Division of Preservation and Access has offered Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions for more than a decade. These grants help small and mid-sized cultural heritage institutions such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities improve their ability to preserve and care for their humanities collections.  Awards of up to $6,000 support preservation related collection assessments, consultations, purchase of preservation supplies and equipment, training and workshops, and institutional and collaborative disaster and emergency planning.  Preservation Assistance Grants also support assessments of digital collections and education and training in standards and best practices for digital preservation, and the care and handling of collections during digitization.  NEH does not fund digitization or the development of digital programs in this grant category. 

All applications to the NEH must be submitted through Grants.gov. See the application guidelines for details.

The 2014 guidelines for Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions are available at http://www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/pag.html. You will also find sample project descriptions, sample narratives, and a list of frequently asked questions.

 

See our feature article and interactive map of PAG awards across the country, up on our Web site now: http://www.neh.gov/divisions/preservation/preservation-and-access-grants-map

Small and mid-sized institutions that have never received an NEH grant are encouraged to apply. This year, we have added a special encouragement for applications from presidentially designated institutions (Hispanic-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities), and from Native American tribes with significant humanities collections.

For more information, contact the staff of NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access at 202-606-8570 and preservation@neh.gov

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Big Change in GIA this year!

The Grant in Aid is moving entirely online.  You will be able to fill out any of the three GIA applications online this year.  We have moved the process to SurveyMonkey to make it more convenient to apply.

Here is how it works:

After April 1st you can go to our Grant Information webpage (http://museums.alaska.gov/)

click on one of the three links depending on what grant you are applying for.

(Remember we have kept the Mini-grant and the Internship grant applications very short so it is necessary to contact Scott Carrlee, Curator of Museums Services before you apply for either of these grants as a pre-application condition).

The application layout is very similar to the previous GIA applications and should be easy to follow.

information

SurveyMonkey will not time you out of an application but it does not allow for saving an application once you start.  So you will not be able to stop in the middle and come back to it.  For that reason we are providing a template for the Regular grant which has longer questions.  You can work on the template off-line and then cut and paste the text into the SurveyMonkey application.  The template can be found on the Grant information webpage

application

Applications must be filled out by 11:45 p.m. on June 2.

Once your application is on SurveyMonkey,  you will get a confirmation email.

All attachments or peripheral material can be emails to scott.carrlee@alaska.gov any time before June 2.

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Alaska Museums in the News

The ASM Move of Collections

http://www.ktva.com/juneau-museum-prepares-for-new-era/

Maxwell Selected as Senior Curator of Programs for Ketchikan Museums

http://www.sitnews.us/0314News/031514/031514_ktn_museums.html

State Library Archives and Museums New Building: The Movie

http://www.ktoo.org/2014/03/17/slideshow-interior-work-underway-new-slam-vault/

Alaska Veterans Museum

http://tickerreport.com/press-releases/149410/the-alaska-veterans-museums-suellyn-wright-novak-to-be-featured-on-close-up-talk-radio/

Phase Change:  Museum’s last day of public operations

http://juneauempire.com/art/2014-02-27/phase-change#.Uw_Z9vldV8E

Final Friday marks last public day for Alaska State Museum

http://www.ktoo.org/2014/02/27/final-friday-marks-last-public-day-for-alaska-state-museum/

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

Connecting to Collections Webinars are back!!

Digital Collections: A Future for Small Museums

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 9 a.m. Alaska Time

Join us on Tuesday as we discuss digital collections and a few ways to create them. If you were unable to attend the Small Museum Association Conference in Ocean City, Maryland this year, this webinar is a great opportunity to catch one of the Conference’s workshops. Amanda Shepp will review the process of digital museum creation and ideas for small organizations. Bring your questions and ideas and get ready for the future!

You do not need to be a registered member of the Online Community to participate in this webinar. Simply go to the meeting room here:

http://www.connectingtocollections.org/meeting/

Once there, enter your name and location and click enter. You will be redirected to the webinar. If you’re having difficulty, please take a look at our technical check page. This live chat event is not like one of our online courses, no pre-registration is required. Simply log on during the time of the webinar. An archive of the event will be posted to the Online Community.

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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Let your finger do the reading.  Maybe we should pass these out at the front desk for exhibit label reading?

http://www.brimtime.com/2014/02/fingerreader-lets-you-hear-written-text.html#more

Dirty Car Art (this will really amaze  you!)

http://www.dirtycarart.com/

Smashing art is art

http://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2014/02/is-it-ok-to-smash-that-complications-of.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+museumtwo+%28Museum+2.0%29

The Art of Museum Exhibitions (radio program)

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/76250/the-art-of-museum-exhibitions

Corcoran Dismantlement Offeres Lessons for Museums and Sites

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/03/18/corcoran-dismantlement-offers-lessons-for-museums-and-sites/

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Alaska State Museums Bulletin 73

Printable Version

Contents:

A visit with Steve Brown
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Concertinas, Curators, Banjos, and Boats: A Visit with Steve Brown

By Jackie Fernandez, Curator of Collections, Sheldon Jackson Museum

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During the second week of January the Sheldon Jackson Museum was fortunate enough to host former curator of Native American Art at the Seattle Art Museum, and renowned Northwest Coast carver and author Steve Brown. Brown came to Sitka to examine the museum’s 19th century Northwest Coast souvenir silver collection, identify styles, artists, and approximate year of make of Sitkans’ silver at “An Evening of Silver & Gold, a special Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum event, and to give a lecture at the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum annual meeting.

The Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum is not part of the Alaska State Museum but a separate, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Sheldon Jackson Museum and its unique Alaska Native ethnographic collection through advocacy, acquisition and educational programming. The Friends’ have been instrumental in providing support for educational programs, including the relatively new, very popular At Saxán (Love of All Things) Saturdays family-friendly youth program; the Native Artist Demonstrators Program, the museum’s artist-in-residence program; and in adding to the museum’s permanent collection, most notably, during the past several years, to the museum’s 19th century Northwest Coast silver souvenir holdings.

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Peter Corey and Steve Brown chat about collections

The Friends, and in particular, the Friends recently retired board member, Peter Corey, and Business Manager, Mary Boose, were instrumental in coordinating Steve Brown’s visit. The Friends paid the expenses of his travel and time as a consultant, took the lead on arranging for the Evening of Silver & Gold graciously hosted by the Rain Dance Gallery owned and jointly ran by local artists Tommy Joseph and Kristina Cranston, and coordinated the annual meeting, silent auction to support the Native Artist Demonstrator Program, and Brown’s lecture on Kadjisdu.axtc, the man thought to have carved some of the best known masterworks of Tlingit art including house posts in the Whale House at Klukwan and at Chief Shakes’ House in Wrangell.

Sheldon Jackson Museum curator, Jacqueline Fernandez, took great pleasure in having the opportunity to discuss souvenir silver, a variety of the museum’s Northwest Coast artifacts and artwork, and during coffee breaks, Brown’s collection of nine banjos and two concertinas, and former life living aboard a 44 foot motor sailor moored at a the ship-canal marina in Ballard, Washington. Only two weeks after his visit to Sitka, Brown found himself back in town, this time, fogged in while en route to Juneau from Seattle to attend a meeting. Fernandez picked up Brown from the airport along with his concertina and he answered the following questions:

  1. Former SJM curator Peter Corey, a board member of the Friends of the SJM contacted you about coming to Sitka. This had been something he had been interested in doing for a long time. Can you tell me about how you know Peter.

I met Peter in early 70s. He had invited me to come to the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan to teach engraving the year after it opened…I think in 1977. That was my first trip to Alaska teaching here and we’ve kept in touch ever since. It’s also likely that I met Peter before then via Bill Holm at the Burke Museum.

  1. What were your initial thoughts about Peter Corey’s proposal? Why did this opportunity appeal to you?

It was a great excuse to come to Sitka. I wasn’t familiar with Northwest Coast silver collection, but I knew there was fairly extensive collection of souvenir silver. I was also interested in the possibility meeting other collectors in the area and felt like I might have something, some information about people’s silver that I could share with them.

The first time I had come to work with the Sheldon Jackson Museum, it was actually also something Pete set up – that time to copy three carvings – including reproductions of a wolf mask, a sea lion helmet, and a bear helmet…Those were done during several visits.

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I worked for Sitka National Historical Park a number of times, first in 81’ when I replicated totem poles, two poles with Nathan Jackson, and reconstructed the head of a totem pole there and did some repairs…I also made a set of masks that are in the SNHP collection, a set of four masks showing process from roughed out to finished piece.

  1. Can you describe some other similar projects you have done at other museums?

I don’t think I’ve done anything quite like the attribution project here. I’ve been to many museums. My favorite is the old Museum of the American Indian storage site in the Bronx (now in Maryland), though I suspect it’s different now….Back then, it was all on open shelving and densely packed…It made everything jump…They had boxes stacked on top of each other. It’s such a huge collection and only a fraction of it has been published so everything that you found was something totally unfamiliar and great.”

  1. Had you seen similar NWC souvenir silver collections and silver jewelry similar to that in the SJM collection before?

While I’ve seen similar souvenir spoons in other collections, this was the largest He had largest bunch of NWC souvenir silver I’d seen. [It should be noted that the museum has over one hundred pieces of Northwest Coast souvenir silver, including a variety of bracelets, spoons, pickle forks, butter knives, napkin rings, sugar tongs, and other items made in the 19th century. The silver collection includes pieces made by well-known Tlingit master artists Rudolph Walton, Silver Jim, and even a spoon made by the renowned Haida artist, Charles Edenshaw.]

SJ-2009-1-1 2013-1-1 2013-1-1 Detail of Handle SJIA898

  1. You yourself are an artist and a well-known carver. How does your eye as an artist assist you in your work in making attributions and identifying important stylistic details? I get the sense that you are able to look at art slightly differently than other scholars who may not practice an art form. Would you agree?

Yes. I think it’s important to have personal experience that informs your eye and your research, not only for silver work here, but replications in Wrangell. I wouldn’t feel as comfortable …reproducing every cut and adze mark on the house posts…you are forced to look at something more closely to reproduce it and as a consequence you see the differences more clearly from one artist’s work to another. [Brown was hired along with John Hagen and Wayne Price to replicate poles in the Chief Shakes House in Wrangell 1984, a project of a lifetime. Brown was able to ascertain that houseposts were likely carved by Kadjisdu.axtc, a historic attribution that had hitherto not been made.]

  1. What do you look for when attempting to make attributions?

In this field because Northwest Coast conventions are all used by a huge range of artists, how each individual artist interprets those shapes is really very individual. Even though the conventions of the art make it seem like you have to do certain things in a certain way…but in order for it to be a living part of a tradition …but an individual’s ability to interpret certain forms, particularly ovoid shapes and eyes and eyelid shapes – everybody does them, but they all do those things with really subtle, small personal variation and once you get used to seeing them, you can make certain comparisons and say well this looks like the same hand as this…

  1. You mentioned the ways in which pieces tarnish and discolor is one way to get a sense of the percentage of coin silver versus sterling versus copper in a piece. Can you describe what you look for to distinguish between pieces with higher percentages of coin silver compared to sterling?

Sterling looks whiter or paler…I think it’s the copper that accelerates the tarnish….Some of the ones here, I was surprised to see the warmth of the color really seemed to be leaning towards to copper end so may have had a little as 50 or 60% silver …Coin silver by definition can have a much as %90…..Heating also affects color and look…once you get to a certain temperature, copper flushes to the surface…shows up as kind of a weird shadowy looking surface…..

  1. At this point, SJM has a substantial number of souvenir pieces in the collection, the majority of which are spoons. Are there any kinds of pieces or silver souvenir artists you would recommend the museum pursue?

The number of bracelets in the collection right now are relatively small and that might be an interesting additional area for collecting….very small number of brooches too….I’m not sure how many other types [types of souvenir silver other than spoons] were made during that period – for example, at the Edenshaw exhibit there were maybe only two napkin rings on exhibit…a few cane ferules….

  1. Were you surprised by any of your findings at the museum?

I would say I was surprised by how much of this kind of thing there was in Sitka and in general. I just didn’t realize how much there was out there to collect…and the number of things to be recently acquired by the Friends or Peter Corey…

  1. Were you surprised by any of your findings during the Silver & Gold event? [At this fundraiser held for the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum, individuals brought their silver and gold pieces to be looked at by Brown. Brown did not make any financial appraisals, but looked at the pieces and tried to identify the period they were made, the style they were done in, and who could have potential made them.]

People primarily brought bracelets….It was amazing to see the range of different engravers’ work and a fraction of them I was able to identify …just to see them all and the range was pretty amazing by itself …You get familiar with the names the researchers bring up, but then, there were all these others…and who they were and all is unknown…but just the fact that they were all there and that their work survived…

  1. What will you do with your findings from your visit?

Peter originally wanted me to produce an article that would then be submitted to American Indian Art…so that’s a possibility and I’d be willing to do that.

  1. Did your time in Sitka generate any new questions about souvenir silver that you are keen to further investigate?

I wonder what percentage of souvenir silver made was actually spoons or bracelets…you could look at museum collections, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the percentage of artists working the field and what they actually made…only what museums acquired…

  1. Do you often have the opportunity to visit other museum collections and research their holdings? Is there a particular kind of collection or specific collection or museum you would like to research that you have not yet had the chance to work with?

There are places I haven’t been that I’d like to go to….I’d like to return to NMAI…I’d like to go to the Museum of Civilization in CA…I’ve been to the museum of American Indian storage, but there is so much there….

  1. What was your favorite piece in the collection that you saw while at SJM and why?

Taquan pole

My favorite object in the museum is the pole from Taquan…to me that is such an outstanding thing…and the fact that it wouldn’t have survived at all without having been brought here….. I also liked the elegant small grease dish made of Mountain ash in storage and the variety of canoe models….

SB grease dishgrease bowl

  1. You shared many insights with staff and the Friends of SJM and general public while you were here through your review of the collections, consultations, and even a visit to SNHP to look at a pre-contact grease bowl. Many in Sitka were able to benefit from your visit and learn from you. Did you leave Sitka with any new knowledge or interesting information?

I don’t know if I learned anything new necessarily, but I enjoyed seeing the range of silver here and just developing a greater familiarity with whole collection here…I don’t think I’d looked through the drawers in storage in back before.

  1. What is your next project?

I’m consulting with the Alaska State Museum headquarters in Juneau about their new installations and exhibitions.

The Sheldon Jackson Museum is grateful to Steve Brown for taking the time to research the silver souvenir collection and all of our Northwest Coast material and to the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum for providing such wonderful support for our activities, educational and public programming, and acquisitions. If you want to learn more about this nonprofit organization or become a member, you can visit http://www.friendsofsjm.com/.

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Ask ASM

Question:  Is it OK to write on CD/DVD’s and what kind of pen or marker should I use?

cd's

ASM: We hear this question a lot and I have seen it kicked around the MuseumL listserv.  Here are a couple of the better responses I have seen there.

From Todd Hopkins, Hillman & Carr Inc.

It’s all theoretical, based on the reaction of the alcohol with the label.  I’ve been working with optical for as long as it’s been around and have not experienced a failure of any kind other than scratching or incompatible burns.

The “safest” marking method I’ve heard described is to use a fine point permanent marker on the hub area only.  Generally, these systems simply use reference numbers coded to a separate database or simply a separate “label” stored with but not attached to the disc.

Paper labels = very, very bad!  Never use ANY kind of adhesive label.  That is unequivocal.  Your disc will be unusable, sooner rather than later, and the odds of destroying a drive along the way are high.

Recently I’ve been using the “CD/DVD” markers from Sharpie.  These are a bit hard to find and look and behave like regular Sharpies, but are supposed to be safe for optical discs.  I like them better than the water based pens I’ve used previously.  I also use only “printable” stock, even when I don’t intend to use a printer.  These discs have an extra print layer that adds protection and is meant to take ink.

From Douglas Nishimura, Image Permanence Institute

Right. No one really knows quite what to expect, but here are some concerns:

1)      Softness of the tip. This is why ballpoint pen is not recommended. A small amount of force applied to a very tiny hard tip may cause enough local pressure to produce delamination.  This is the spiked heels on a soft floor problem on a smaller scale. Fiber tipped markers were once assumed to be softer and broader, but aren’t necessarily. If I can still do math on a Monday, a quarter pound resting on a 0.7 mm pen tip is equivalent to 419 pounds per square inch and this is why the concern.

2)      Solvent/carrier fluid. The upper transparent layer has been polycarbonate (and probably still is.) We know that polycarbonate is sensitive to a pretty broad range of solvents that can cause the polymer to crack, craze, or shatter (depending on what internal stresses have been locked in) and this potential weakness was illustrated in the 1980s with people doing their own artistic additions to polycarbonate bicycle and motorcycle helmets. These head protections then failed to do their jobs and would readily shatter on impact resulting in severe head injuries. In addition to applications of paint and spray paint, felt tipped markers had been used to decorate so there is concern that the pen solvent/carrier fluid may cause the polycarbonate layer to swell, crack, craze, or delaminate if the wrong pen is used.  Given the unknown potential for damage, the conservative approach would be to avoid markers (although peeling adhesive labels are known to cause stress delamination so they aren’t necessarily a good alternative.)

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Shaking the Money Tree

IMLS Receives Increase in Funding

In January, President Barack Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government through the end of September, 2014. The legislation includes $226,860,000 for IMLS which is roughly $7 million more than the FY13 budget, partially restoring the funding cuts that were part of sequestration. The appropriation is about $1 million more than the IMLS FY 2014 Request.

The total amount appropriated for libraries, which is through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), increased from $175,044,000 in FY 2013 to $180,909,000 for FY 2014. The total for the Office of Museum Services is $30.1 million, a $900,000 increase from the FY 2013, post-sequestration total.

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The Seward Museum used a FY2012 Mini-grant to help with their move of collections to their new museum.  During the late months of 2012, 5 hard core volunteers diligently worked with Amy Carney, then Seward Community Library Museum Collections Coordinator, to carefully clean, catalog and pack the collection of the Seward Museum in preparation for moving into our new facility. On December 17 the crew of World Wide Movers, who had initially balked when asked to move the museum collection, heaved sighs of relief when they saw the careful and study packing job that had been done. The movers were able to complete what they thought would have been a 3-4 day job in 2 days.

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But then the work began again. These same volunteers began the painstaking process of creating a home for Seward’s history in the new space. The mini-grant funds were used for a lot of little things that were needed to make the new space a workable museum, especially in preparation for opening on May 11, 2013. There were many trips to the local hardware store for small tools, nails, screws and any other imaginable device that would allow the museum crew to get the exhibits and storage space workable.

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Once the space became usable the supply list that was detailed in the original application was reviewed and submitted to purchase storage materials to begin the process of creating secure, archival storage and display spaces for the objects.

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Alaska Museums in the News

Wrangell Museum hunts for feet

http://www.kstk.org/2014/02/04/wrangell-museum-hunts-for-feet/

Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities

http://juneauempire.com/art/2014-01-30/governors-awards-arts-humanities-be-celebrated-tonight#.UvKaj_ldV8E

Artists named for Alaska Public art project

http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/artists-named-for-alaska-public-art-project/article_65908f3a-8d7d-11e3-88d6-001a4bcf6878.html

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

Native American Museum Studies Institute:

A Professional Development Opportunity for Tribal Museum Professionals

June 2-6, 2014

To be held at University of California, Berkeley

Goal: to develop the capacity of tribal community members to:

  • Conserve and revitalize tribal cultural heritage
  • Foster tribal representations and partnerships
  • Educate tribal and non-tribal communities through museum development and exhibits

Workshop topics will include:

  • Collections Management and Cataloging
  • Conservation/Collections Care
  • Curation and Exhibit Design
  • Educational Programming
  • Museum Management
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
  • Museum Fundraising
  • Tribal Partnerships and Collaborations with Counties, States, and Agencies

Eligibility:

  • Priority will be given to those already working or volunteering with a tribe’s collection in a museum or in another tribal cultural preservation project
  • Those planning a museum or other cultural preservation project may also apply and may be accepted depending upon availability

Expense:

  • The training is tuition free to the participants; lunch is provided
  • Participants will be responsible for their other meals, lodging, and travel expenses (see website for more details). Partial travel stipends may be available in case of financial need.

Application:

  • Review of applications will begin on March 3, 2014.
  • Space is limited
  • Application form and complete application instructions can be downloaded from our website at http://crnai.berkeley.edu/ or obtained via fax or mail by calling 510-643-7238.

Sponsors:

-Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, UC Berkeley

-California Indian Museum and Cultural Center

-Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Co-Sponsors:

C.N. Gorman Museum, UC Davis

Center for Digital Archaeology, UC Berkeley

For more information, call Deborah Lustig at 510-643-7238 or email namsiucb@gmail.com

Conferences

Poles, Posts and Canoes: the Preservation, Conservation and Continuation of Native American Monumental Wood Carving

July 21st – 22nd, 2014, Tulalip, Washington

The call for papers has been extended to February 28th, 2014.  We still have a few spaces for presentations, especially those angled towards general collections management, display and use of these objects in native and non-native managed museums, and the use in a museum setting of traditional means of maintenance.  For full details of proposal requirements, as well as registration information for both the symposium and the totem pole maintenance workshop that follows on July 23rd – 25th July, please visit http://www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/Events/Symposium/

International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection

We are pleased to announce that this year’s conference will be held in our home state of Colorado.  We’re planning 2 days of general sessions, certification courses, breakout sessions, exhibits, and museum excursions in downtown Denver, followed by 2 days of special sessions, networking, and historic excursions in the Colorado mountains.

The conference is tentatively scheduled for August 9-14:

•             Saturday and Sunday pre-conference cultural activities and welcome reception

•             Monday and Tuesday educational sessions, exhibits, and nighttime activities in downtown Denver

•             Wednesday and Thursday seminars and activities in the Rocky Mountains

Significant lodging discounts will be available, and package deals for all conference offerings.  We plan to confirm dates within a week, and have registration available in mid-February.  Stay tuned for web site updates and email announcements. http://ifcpp.org/

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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

On the ground: A tale of two museums

The power and limits of what money and space can do for teaching science to the public

http://scienceline.org/2014/01/on-the-ground-a-tale-of-two-museums/

Poor tradeoffs, the Randall College controversy

http://www.artsjournal.com/realcleararts/2014/02/poor-trade-off-bellows-to-london-but-one-bright-side.html

Giant sinkhole swallows cars at Corvette Museum

http://corvettemuseum.org/enews/backups/media/sinkhole.htm

The unsettling state of state historical societies

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/02/11/unsettling-state-of-state-historical-societies/

Mold mars 600,000 MU volumes stored at off-campus facility

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/education/mold-mars-mu-volumes-stored-at-off-campus-facility/article_cac3a588-884e-11e3-a89a-10604b9f1ff4.html

What not to do with kids at a museum

http://hyperallergic.com/105448/what-not-to-do-with-kids-in-a-museum/

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Alaska State Museums Bulletin 72

Printable Version

Contents:

The Arctic Drum
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Editors Note:  The following article was submitted for publication by Asta Mønsted who was born and raised in Uummannaq, Greenland. Currently she is studying for her Master’s degree in Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She also works as a guide in the Arctic collection at the National Museum of Denmark.

The Arctic drum – a drum beat is heard coming from Greenland

 By Asta Mønsted

Asta

The drum has a special place in the heart of the Arctic people. The Arctic drum is namely much more than just a musical instrument. The drum has been strongly connected with shamanism, but was also used by villagers for entertainment purposes (i.e. drum songs) and judicial decisions. The Arctic drum is deeply rooted in the Inuit culture and, archaeologically, it can be traced back to some of the earliest Arctic societies. Geographically, the traces of the Arctic drum are wide spread starting in Eastern Siberia crossing the Bering Sea to Alaska and further into Northern Canada and ending up on the island of Greenland. These deep and extensive roots connected the Inuit people of the past – as they do today. Our culture and cultural remains originate from the same source and, therefore, an archaeological project concerning Arctic drum fragments in Greenland is considered relevant to readers of an Alaskan newsletter. Now that it’s dark and cold outside, I will do as the traditional Inuit’s did during this time of year: I will tell you a story. It’s an old story of the arctic drum – but with a modern twist.

Figure 1

Following the traces of the drum

During the cold and dark month of January 2013, my ongoing interest in the Arctic drum started and I realized that I had found the subject for my upcoming bachelors dissertation. As I started to unravel the ancient story of the Arctic drum through the use of ethnographic documentation, I realized that these drum fragments could be traced back in time to the Thule culture (approx. 1200-1900 AD), the Dorset culture (approx. 650-1200 AD) and even further into the Saqqaq culture (approx. 2.500-800 BC), which, in Greenland, are some of the earliest people to inhabit the island – around 4.500 years ago. Nonetheless, a question which kept haunting me was how these drum fragments could be recognized without the recovery of a complete drum? The Arctic soil has some of the world’s best conditions for artefact preservation of organic materials, which the museum collections are solid proof of. But even so, archaeologists rarely excavate complete drums which were generally made from animal remains (i.e. bone, antler, skin and internal organs).

The drum’s “fingerprint”

During the next couple of months I sat at the National Museum of Denmark studying artefacts excavated in Greenland, by the Danish Arctic archaeologist Therkel Mathiassen in 1933. The artefacts had all been labelled as ‘drum fragments’, and so I tried to figure out why. Based on my analysis, I created a thesis which outlined how to recognize a drum frame and a drum handle, respectively. The drum frame needs a groove on the outside of the frame in order to tie down the drum skin. In the meantime, the drum handle is in need of a slot for it to be latched onto the drum frame (See picture below).

drum handle

Unfortunately, other parts of the Arctic drum are very difficult to recognize during excavation. Take the drum skin for example; this part was primarily made of the spleen, bladder or skin of a walrus or other large seals. These materials are the most likely to decay, and if the drum skin had been removed from the frame, then it is even more difficult to argue, that it was a drum skin and not part of some other artefact. Speaking of ASM drumdrum skins, I have realized that the Alaska State Museum houses some gorgeous historic drums, where the skins have been painted in beautiful colours and motives!  If you have not been to see them yet, you ought to. Sadly, I have not stumbled upon any painted drum skins during my studies of the Greenlandic drum materials, but your decorated drum skins tell me that I should not rule out this idea. The origin of the drum Since the Arctic drum was introduced to Greenland from the western part of the Arctic, I wanted to test out whether or not these two Greenlandic drum characteristics (i.e. the groove and slot) could be transferred to drums from respectively; Canada, Alaska and Siberia.

map

During this investigation I concluded, that the Arctic drum came in various shapes, sizes and construction forms. With the help of Ellen Carrlee, the conservator at Alaska State Museum, I realized that some drums could e.g. hold the drum skin by sandwiching it between two drum frames – and thereby avoid the groove on the drum frame. An example from St. Lawrence, Alaska shows that the drum handle could also be carved on the side of the drum frame, and therefore did not need a slot to connect the two pieces (see picture below).

drum part

An example from Birnirk, Alaska shows another way of avoiding the slot on the drum handle, since; in this case, the handle was inserted through a hole on the side of the drum frame (Picture below).

drum rim

Another interesting observation was done, when I examined the oldest dated drum fragments from Greenland. Two pieces of a drum rim were excavated at Qajaa and Qeqertasussuk, respectively, which revealed similarities, not to other Greenlandic drums, but to Alaskan drums (see picture below).

pieces of rim

Both drum rims were thicker than observed on other Greenlandic drums, while the curve of the rim fragments indicated a full rim diameter between 60-75 centimetres. So while the average drum rim in Greenland is approx. 30-40 centimetres in diameter, these older drum parts appear to have a stronger connection to the drums from where the Inuit culture originated – the western part of the Arctic. This may not be so surprising, but nevertheless, it is interesting since it shows how deeply connected the Inuit cultures were nearly 4.500 years ago, when the first Inuit people coming from the West set foot on new land; Greenland. Being nomadic in nature, they brought all of their belongings with them – among them the iconic drum; and some of these drum fragments ended up in my hands for analysis! What a journey. This is the end of my part of the story. Now someone else might pick up from where I left, in an attempt to figure out whether or not one can also establish characteristic traits in drum fragments from archaeological materials found in Alaska. As an old shaman said: “The only thing we know for certain, is that what shall happen, will happen”. Thank you for listening to a fellow ‘inuk’.

IMG_0857


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Ask ASM

Question:  Recently a pair of Made in the USA XtraTuf rubber boots were donated to the museum. They are covered in fish scales. I don’t want to remove the scales, since they are critical to the history and convey the use of the boots, plus the scales are visually compelling. Yet, I am concerned that they may attract pests. What is your inclination- remove or keep the scales?

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I would like to feature the boots in a permanent exhibit about local commercial fisheries, yet the exhibit will not be mounted for several years. Do you have any suggestions about storage mounts or materials while the boots are not on exhibit? Are there any conservation concerns that I should be aware of for when they are exhibited?

ASM:  That is a really interesting artifact and so iconic to Alaska.  I can see why you would want to put it in the exhibit.  First off you should know that anything made of rubber or neoprene is really hard to preserve.  It has what we call “inherent vice.”  Which is just a fancy way of saying it is going to fall apart on its own no matter what we do.  We can slow down the deterioration but we can’t completely halt it.  The clock is ticking.  Other artifacts with inherent vice are nitrate negatives.  When an institution has a large, important collection of nitrate film, they sometimes put them in cold storage, like a refrigerator or an entire cold vault.  In your case that might be difficult to achieve, especially during the time you put it on exhibit.  And the cold might cause some dimensional change (shrinkage) which could cause the fish scales to pop off.  So we have to take all the materials into consideration and also balance preservation with the resources that are available.  I would recommend that for short term you photograph and document the present condition in a very thorough manner.  For storage, you could gently wrap each boot in several layers of acid-free buffered tissue paper.  The buffering agents in the tissue paper will help absorb the off-gassing that will occur as the rubber breaks down.  These are generally sulfur products that result from the breakdown of the organic components in the rubber.  If they are absorbed they tend to get somewhat neutralized and are less likely to cause the rubber to break down further.

As for the exhibit end of things, that is really tricky.  The scales are being held on by fish slime I assume.  That is interesting.  Fish glue has been used as an adhesive for centuries but sticking anything to rubber can be a challenge.  So it might only be a matter of time before they start to fall off.  I would really limit the handling of them in the first place.  It would be best if they could be in their own exhibit case or even a case within a case.  There are VOC scavengers that you can line the case with.  It is a kind of paper or cloth that has activated charcoal in it which absorbs the VOC’s.  Make sure the boots have low light levels on them and the RH is stable.  All of these things will contribute to preserving these.

There is also a whole discussion we could have about whether to accession items like these into the permanent collection or to just consider them exhibit props.  But maybe we should save that for another time.

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Shaking the Money Tree

Heritage Preservation

CAP Applications Available

Heritage Preservation is pleased to announce that the 2014 Conservation Assessment Program application are available at: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/CAP/index.html. Paper applications are available upon request.

Applications must be postmarked, submitted online, or emailed no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 14th. We encourage museums to apply as soon after the application release as possible, as we always receive more applicants than we are able to fund.

Questions may be directed to CAP staff at cap@heritagepreservation.org, or 202-233-0800.

IMLS

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries. The application deadline is February 3, 2014.

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries are small grants that encourage libraries and archives to prototype and evaluate innovations that result in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. They enable grantees to undertake activities that involve risk and require them to share project results–whether they succeed or fail–to provide valuable information to the library field and help improve the ways libraries serve their communities.

The funding range is from $10,000 to $25,000, and there are no matching requirements. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014. Click here for program guidelines and more information about the funding opportunity.

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s Education Collection Re-Organization Project assisted the Museum in completing its first thorough education collection inventory.

old storage

Storage for education clothing before the project

This grant provided funding to hire a contractor to accession the education collection into PastPerfect and for improved storage solutions for the education collection.  The ability to purchase storage lockers, flat file drawers, and storage carts enabled the collection to be housed more efficiently in the same area of the basement where all education collection items are in one location. 

labeling

Storage for education clothing after project. 

Furniture not accessioned into the collection used for education hands-on rooms or exhibit props is still housed in an off-site storage location.  Funding enabled the purchase of archival boxes for the collections so that items can be stored with care, such as hat boxes for the hats so they are not crushed, and compartment trays for antique jewelry, light bulbs, collection shells, etc.

cart

jewery

The contractor completed 100 hours of work and 550 new scans with associated data entry on 467 education items into PastPerfect.  This project allowed the culling of items that were broken, worn, or not preferred for hands on use.  Some items culled were old-fashioned clothing that was torn or worn and hats that were no longer in good repair from the dress-up closet. Old/antique books were culled and discarded which were not suitable for the hands-on room because of the content or the condition of the book. Other items that were culled were mining implements that were rusty or sharp, bits of glass and beach-combing that has been put on the education shelf, but never inventoried, and toys that were broken from use in previous hands-on rooms.

With the education collection now in PastPerfect, Museum staff can search the collection for specific requests and with the goal of the future creation of education kits that can be loaned out to teachers for use in the classroom.  Weaknesses within the collection related to education kit goals and teacher requests can be identified and filling these gaps can begin.  The grant project enabled them to create postcards to be delivered to the schools announcing our education collection to teachers to take a look at, become excited about, and think about how items can fit into their classroom.  An added bonus, with more efficient storage we have gleaned more space at our offsite storage facility.

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Alaska Museums in the News

Discovery of a rare Tlingit War Helmet causes media stir

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131218/rare-tlingit-war-helmet-discovered-massachusetts-museum-archives

http://www.springfieldmuseums.org/news/view/762-a_hidden_treasure_revealed_rare_tlingit_war_helmet_discovered_at_springfield_science_museum

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/rare_tlingit_war_helmet_discov.html

http://www.wggb.com/2013/12/18/a-hidden-treasure-revealed/

https://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140107/emergence-rare-tlingit-war-helmet-raises-chorus-homecoming

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

 

PastPerfect Training

Cataloging Collections with PastPerfect 5.0

February 11-13 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET (7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. PT)

Cataloging Collections with PastPerfect 5.0 demonstrates how using PastPerfect can speed up your data entry process. In this three-day course, our trainers will demonstrate how to use authority files, attach digital images, keep your data safe, and much more. With a focus on efficiency, this class will walk step by step through the accession process from the moment “a man walks in with a box.” New users of PastPerfect will learn recommended methods for consistent collections data entry; experienced users will pick up tips to maximize their use of the program. Registered participants will be sent a free copy of the Cataloging Collections with PastPerfect 5.0 Training CD, which complements this course.

Researching and Reporting with PastPerfect 5.0

March 18-19 | 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. ET (7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PT)

Research and Reporting with PastPerfect 5.0 is a two-day course that demonstrates how researching and reporting on your collections, donations and membership dues in PastPerfect is straightforward and effective. This course reviews PastPerfect’s research options, highlights commonly-used reports from PastPerfect’s 300+ built-in reports, and teaches easy-to-use tools to modify existing reports and create your own reports using Report Maker. Registered participants will receive a free copy of the Research and Reporting with PastPerfect 5.0 Training CD, which complements this course.

Costs:  $69 per person,

Course descriptions as well as additional training options can be found at our website.

 Jennessa Reed, Training Coordinator
PastPerfect Software, Inc.
Training@museumsoftware.com
1-800-562-6080
 

CONSULTING ARCHIVIST PROGRAM

The Alaska State Historical Records Advisory Board (ASHRAB) has initiated a program to provide hands-on consultation to six small field archives across Alaska. Experienced archivists from the Sealaska Heritage Institute, University of Alaska Anchorage Archives & Special Collections, University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska & Polar Regions Collections, and Alaska State Archives will conduct preliminary work and travel to rural locations between mid-February and May to selected institutions to make best-practices recommendations at no cost to the field institution.

The program, sponsored by the ASHRAB and the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, will provide three days on-site consultation about archival policies, procedures, and confidentiality of materials. The visiting archivist will address appraisal, description, arrangement, conservation needs, access, and security of archival documents. The archivist will provide training to assist staff in managing and preserving unique, irreplaceable materials.

Those interested in participating in the program must complete an application questionnaire by January 30, 2014. ASHRAB will select the institutions to receive assistance in mid-February.

For an application questionnaire or more information, contact State Archivist Dean Dawson at dean.dawson@alaska.gov.

Poles, Posts and Canoes: the Preservation, Conservation and Continuation of Native American Monumental Wood Carving.

July 21st – 22nd, 2014, Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, Tulalip, Washington (Opening Ceremony and Dinner, July 20th, 2014)

This two day symposium (preceded by an opening ceremony and meal on the evening of July 20th) will gather Native and non-Native museum professionals, tribal members, and contemporary Native carvers to discuss the challenges of preserving and exhibiting historic monumental wood carvings from both a Native and Non-Native view point.  It will also serve to connect Native carvers and the museum community in the hope that the resulting dialogue will help support the continued development of this traditional art form.  The format of this gathering is aimed at encouraging discussion, so presentations will be relaxed and brief, and an equal amount of time will be scheduled for general discussion of the topics addressed.

Registration will open January 21st, 2014, and a provisional program will be available at that time.

Further information and details about the conference will be posted at www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/Events/Symposium/

Call for papers:

The meeting is heavily focused on inclusive discussions amongst participants; therefore we are seeking short presentations (10 – 15 minutes maximum) that encourage constructive dialog.  While technical papers are welcome, we ask that presenters keep in mind the broad background of the expected attendees.  The event will be recorded and the proceedings published.

Proposals for presentations on the following topics are invited:

  • The history behind the past care of poles, posts, canoes and similar large Native carvings held in conventional museum settings.
  • The care of these objects in Native museums and communities from the Native perspective.
  • What types of large artifact conservation treatments and care work best in Native and non-Native museums?
  • The importance and relevance of these objects for the personal visions of the Native carver.
  • The potential use of traditional methods and materials in the preservation of existing objects in collections.
  • How can conservators, custodians and Native carvers bridge the communication gap and support each other’s work?
  • How can a balance be struck between technical and non-technical methodologies?
  • How can we define a range of “best practices” in Native museum collections regarding treatments, storage, moving and mounting techniques for this material?

Information to be included in your proposal:

·         Presentation proposal should be not more than 250 words.

·         Please include a 100 word summary that will be included on the conference website, should your paper be accepted.

·         Provide your name, occupation/institution and contact information, including e-mail address.

·         Indicate the format of your presentation – PowerPoint, presentation from written notes, etc.

Deadline for submission: February 3rd, 2014.

Please submit proposals to:  J. Claire Dean at info@hibulbculturalcenter.org  (include “PPC paper proposal” in the subject line).

You will be notified by e-mail whether or not your paper has been accepted by February 28th, 2014.

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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Darn Cats!

http://io9.com/this-medieval-manuscript-curses-the-cat-who-peed-on-it-1502884468?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Financial Management at America’s Billion-Dollar Museums

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/01/08/financial-management-at-americas-billion-dollar-museums/

Shift in how some museums are funded

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2013/12/28/sanctuary-and-change-boston-area-museum-scene/CUJp1ODEMFEGvSLP69MtDO/story.html?s_campaign=sm_tw

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Alaska State Museums Bulletin 71

Printable Version

Contents:

The Museums Big Move
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

The Museum’s Big Move

A perspective from Lisa Golisek, Alaska State Museum Protections and Visitors Services Manager (aka Office Move Branch Team Leader)

It’s December 2013 and we are in the midst of the Alaska State Museum’s “big move.” A move that encompasses relocating the Alaska State Museum’s collections, staff, supplies and equipment by May – just six months away. As I write this article about a discrete aspect of this moving experience, I’m able to look out my office window and see part of a new building or what I refer to as the “back third of the new SLAM” facility towering above the museum.

SLAM stands for State Libraries, Archives and Museums. The completion of the back third of SLAM is a critical component to the museum’s big move as it houses the new collection storage vault.  The new vault, with functioning fire, security, and mechanical systems, is to be ready to receive the museum’s collections by February 28, less than 3 months from now. From the close of business at the end of February, we have six weeks to move 32,000 objects that are on exhibit or in storage into the new vault.  Before the close of business at February’s end, all the staff will be moved offsite and the supplies and equipment will be moved into long-term storage.

scaffold

Construction underway of the back third of the State Libraries, Archives and Museums (SLAM) building.

The Alaska State Museum building, as we currently know it, will be torn down to make way for the rest of the SLAM building that is to be completed by the spring of 2016.

old ASM

The Alaska State Museum, built in 1967, as a Centennial Project will be torn down in 2014 to make way for the new State Libraries, Archives and Museum facility.

SLAM

 Architect’s rendering of the new State Libraries, Archives and Museum facility.

For the past year, a few of our employees were instrumental in meeting and deciding to adapt FEMA’s Incident Command System (ICS) to execute our big move. One day last July, I was sent a copy of the move organizational chart produced as a result of these meetings.  The chart had two main move branches – the Collections Move Branch and the Office Move Branch.  The teams under these headings would be responsible for moving everything from the museum — from the file cabinets to the lighthouse lens. My name was in the block titled, “Office Move Branch Team Leader.”  I wasn’t sure who to curse or thank for this role, but the count down to the February closing date was 7 months out, and we needed to get most of the “office branch” moved by then.  True, planning for the office moves had been well underway prior to July, as the director and deputy director had been working for six months finding space within the state library and archives to squeeze in the museum staff desks. However, there was still more to be done under the title of “office move.”

Goals for the “Office Move Branch Team:

  1. Develop and execute a plan for organizing, packing and moving the “low hanging fruit: or those items that are fairly easy to pack up and move out and which no one person claims responsibility for
  2. Schedule staff and office move dates, oversee moves
  3. Organize and pack for long-term storage those items we will need in the future museum but we can do without now
  4. Reduce supply consumable inventory – museum publications, gallery guides, and posters
  5. Create space to pile up property to be sent to the State Surplus for redistribution and sale
  6. Create space in-house to organize and pack
  7. Manage the teams of the office move branch

Admittedly I am one of 95% of the museum’s permanent, fulltime staff involved in a major museum move for the first time. However, we are learning moving lessons every day, and hopefully a few of these lessons will be of benefit to you.

Lesson:  It’s called Low Hanging Fruit because it’s the easiest to pick!

Not everyone in a museum has the skills of a registrar or an archivist, but they all collect. It is amazing the morass of “stuff” an agency can accumulate in 46 years that no one person accepts responsibility for, and how readily staff embrace the idea of someone else organizing it and packing it up.

To make sure we had a complete list of “low hanging fruit”, I visited with staff and informally asked staff three helpful questions:

1) What’s in your area that you are not personally responsible for?

2) What equipment and supplies do you no longer want or need?

3) If someone could assist you, what would you like have them pack for long-term storage?

The third question often unveiled items staff inherited from their predecessors but they had never gone through. Staff showed me stuff that was stuffed in drawers and stashed in corners. The list quickly got lengthy, and repetitive.  It was surprising how much of the same kinds of materials everyone had — photos and slides, multiple copies of exhibit catalogs and museum technical papers, CD’s of images and files, old temporary exhibit photo murals on the walls, and dozens of uncatalogued reference books.  Despite the lengthy list, I also went on a little tour of the building and grounds and compiled a list of everything that I knew wasn’t collections related that we would likely need to keep or figure out what to do with it.  At this point, it was time to put together a team – I needed help.

This project was happening during the busy summer tourist season, and fortunately, the need for additional support was obvious to our Deputy Director who found a way to add 30 hours per week to the budget to add on some non-permanent staff. My section already uses non-permanent employees to cover leave and assist with special events, and I have the good fortune of having a few devoted and semi-retired employees with long tenure. I asked two of them if they would work together 15 hours per week to complete the assignment of dealing with our low hanging fruit and they enthusiastically agreed.

The credit for compiling, organizing and packing the items goes almost entirely these two individuals, and I can’t brag and thank them enough for what they accomplished in the past four months.  Our organizers started with rounding up “like” materials – all the magnetic media, all the reference books, all the exhibit catalogs and publications, all the slides and photographs and assisted in further categorizing them.

Ten Categories of Items from the List of Low Hanging Fruit

  1. Staff reference library
  2. Photos and slides of everything from the museum’s 1987 volleyball team to photos from the millennium gala
  3. Magnetic and digital media –  from commercially produced to museum event coverage,
  4. Museum publications – exhibits catalogs, posters, gallery guides and rack cards
  5. Awards, Plaques and Banners
  6. Newspaper clippings
  7. Memorial plaques and trees
  8. Office wall art – which include large reproductions used in old temporary exhibits as well as work to return to the art bank
  9. Support materials from discontinued programs – the learning kit program and museum graphics
  10. Old equipment and supplies

Once the team had most of a like materials rounded up – then the organizing, inventorying, archiving, culling, packing, and moving could begin in earnest. Going through thousands of slides is a monumental task, but the pace of these employees was good and what didn’t get done then, probably never would.

Although some things might not have receive enough attention, everything was inventoried and boxes were labeled. We developed a simple tracking label for boxes with a label template that prints on standard shipping label stock. The labels are color coded for each museum section:  Museum services is blue, administration is green, collections is purple, etc.  In our case we are moving all of this material twice so the box label lists both the temporary storage location and its final destination in the new SLAM.  We used the room numbers to identify rooms in the new building since all the blueprints are done and room numbers won’t change.

label photo

The best lesson learned on this project was not necessarily how to handle low hanging fruit but who should pick it!

  • Pairing up two people for 15 hours per week got more than twice as much done.
  • Pairing up individuals with compatible but complimentary skills sets was a huge asset.  One had spent a couple years working at the library and understands libraries and archives culture.  The other one was a former museum employee and has institutional memory as well as understands our personalities and culture well. They both have a long history with the community.
  • The individuals not burdened by the responsibilities associated with a full-time position so they could stay focused on the task at hand.
  • The individuals had exceptional spatial reasoning skills – if I had to select people for this process that I didn’t know, I might hand them a Rubik’s cube and watch how easy was for them to solve.

Other lessons learned:

  • Starting with low hanging fruit was a good decision.  It is the easiest thing for staff to let go of so you can get these packed well ahead of time.
  • Removing office wall art and emptying shelves gives the appearance that you are moving and this motivates staff to pack.
  • Rounding up “like” materials allowed us to get rid of redundancy, know how much stock we had, and provide us with an accurate inventory so we could distribute the excess to school, libraries, and other museums.
  • Through the process piles of old equipment and supplies were amassed to go to surplus.
  • In the end, we are rewarded with much needed space

One could say with more fruit idioms, the fruits of our labor on the low hanging fruit….well, bore fruit!

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Ask ASM

Question:  How does your museum currently prevent bugs, rodents, light and moisture from affecting the collection?

ASM:  The current pest control protocol in effect since at least 1990 at the Alaska State Museum has been the standard Integrated Pest Management System where we use preventive techniques to keep pests out, monitor with sticky traps on a quarterly basis and treat suspected infestations or incoming artifacts that may be at risk with low-temperature treatment in a freezer in our isolation room.  The IPM procedure is described in the following article: http://www.museums.state.ak.us/documents/bulletin_docs/bulletin_29.pdf

Light levels are controlled throughout the exhibits and storage areas.  In exhibits, light levels are measured with a light meter and kept within accepted standards, typically around 5 footcandles for light sensitive materials such as dyes and watercolors, under 15 footcandles for most organics, and 30 footcandles for things that are not light sensitive like metals, ceramics and glass.  In storage areas, the control is more in keeping the lights off whenever people are not immediately working in the collections room.  Light levels need to be high enough in there to monitor condition, research artifacts, and perform collections management tasks, so the level is above 15 footcandles.  But since light damage is cumulative, the brief periods of exposure are the control mechanism.  Of course, the majority of the collections in storage are in cabinets and thus exposed to no light unless the cabinet is opened, even if the lights are on in the storage room.

Moisture is carefully tracked in the museum, since we live in a wet climate and the building has inherent flaws.  We have electronic water monitors on the floor in several locations, and we actively monitor the ceiling and the floor for any signs of leaks.  Again, cabinets provide significant protection.  Our IPM system also provides data on moisture, as there are certain bugs that need high humidity levels to thrive.  If we see those kinds of insects (sow bugs, springtails…typically non-heritage eaters) in traps, we suspect elevated moisture and investigate the issue.  We have temperature and relative humidity data going back to 1983.  The museum is typically around 68 degrees F and 45% RH.

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Shaking the Money Tree

IMLS

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries. The application deadline is February 3, 2014.

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries are small grants that encourage libraries and archives to prototype and evaluate innovations that result in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. They enable grantees to undertake activities that involve risk and require them to share project results–whether they succeed or fail–to provide valuable information to the library field and help improve the ways libraries serve their communities.

The funding range is from $10,000 to $25,000, and there are no matching requirements. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014. Click here for program guidelines and more information about the funding opportunity.

AAM

The Alliance is accepting proposals for the 2014 cycle of the Museums Connect: Building Global Communities program. An initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in conjunction with the Alliance, Museums Connect offers up to $100,000 for museums throughout the U.S. and the world to partner with each other and their local communities around issues of mutual interest, creating opportunities for greater dialogue and cultural understanding. In the first phase of the proposal process, museums submit a basic profile form and search for a partner. Many profiles of U.S. and non-U.S. museums have already been posted online for potential partners to review. After partnering, museums submit a statement of intent to propose, accepted on a rolling basis through Jan. 20.

Heritage Preservation

CAP Applications Available

Heritage Preservation is pleased to announce that the 2014 Conservation Assessment Program application are available at: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/CAP/index.html. Paper applications are available upon request.

Applications must be postmarked, submitted online, or emailed no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 14th. We encourage museums to apply as soon after the application release as possible, as we always receive more applicants than we are able to fund.

Questions may be directed to CAP staff at cap@heritagepreservation.org, or 202-233-0800.

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The Alutiiq Museum

The “Cultures Through Time” project has been successfully completed. Through the project, two separate but complimentary exhibits were created. First, five images were developed showcasing the five major periods of the Alutiiq culture. The design of the images was inspired by the children’s I Spy books, and feature many items from the Alutiiq Museum’s collections from each period.

Russian FINAL.pdf

The images were then printed onto ¼ inch thick, 30 by 30 inch iZone panels and mounted in the children’s Wamwik area of the museum’s gallery. They are arranged in a way that is attractive and engaging, and highlights both the differences and similarities over time. For example, the shape of toggling harpoon points remained virtually identical over thousands of years and between periods, but the materials changed, from bone through to metal. By exploring the images, children can learn about change over time. The panels have proven to be highly popular and a wonderful resource during tours. Children often yell out when they spot an object, “I see it!” which has resonated deeply, since the exhibit is titled Tangraqa – I See It.

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Beside the Wamwik is an exhibit case that serves as our introduction to Alutiiq culture through time. This exhibit was installed in 2001, and was never a very well laid out design. The case is large, but the space was not well used and was difficult to understand for those who did not have a basic understanding of Alutiiq culture or archaeology. This project allowed for a complete redesign, including a change from focusing on the scholarly names of the cultural time periods to a more widely understood use of terms (Ocean Bay became Early Hunters, Koniag became Chiefs and Slaves). The title of the exhibit also changes from Culture through Time, which did not emphasis the continuity of culture to Cuumillallret – Our Ancestors. The case is vibrant and shares at least five times as many artifacts as the previous version, utilizing the space much more efficiently and attractively. Importantly, the two exhibits are complimentary in that they share many of the same artifacts. Pieces that are spotted in the Tangraqa images are displayed in the Cuumillallret case, pulling children’s attention into the gallery in a way that was not possible before. Additionally, the abundance of artifacts seen in the images and the case showcase the museum’s collections while educating our visitors in a more intuitive way about the Alutiiq culture through time.

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Alaska Museums in the News

ASM IMLS Professional Development Project: Putting the State in Alaska State Museum

http://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/12/10/putting-the-state-in-alaska-state-museum/

http://www.ktoo.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/29Museum.mp3

Cordova Museum Purchases work by Milo Burcham

http://www.thecordovatimes.com/article/1349cordova-museum-purchases-work-by-milo-burcham

 

Museum of the North gets new fish specimens

http://fm.kuac.org/post/thousands-new-fish-specimens-double-museums-collection

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

AASLH

Registration Open for January 2014 Online Training

The Basics of Archives
The Basics of Archives online course is designed to give organizations and individuals who are responsible for the care of historical records an introduction to the core aspects of managing and protecting historical records collections, using appropriate principles and best practices. Proceed at your own pace through this online workshop covering the basics of archive management and practices. The course is web-based and takes 15-20 hours to complete.

  • January 6, 2014 - February 7, 2014
  • $85 members / $160 nonmembers

Developing a Membership Marketing Plan
Does your organization’s membership program need a jumpstart? Do you want to grow new members? Join a lively discussion about how to develop a membership marketing plan for your organization and increase revenue. When the webinar is complete, you will take home not only a model on how to develop, but also real ideas and suggestions to put in that plan.

  • January 15, 2014 @ 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
  • $40 members/$115 nonmembers


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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

700,000 Year Old Horse discovered in the Yukon

http://westerndigs.org/700000-year-old-horse-found-in-yukon-permafrost-yields-oldest-dna-ever-decoded/

Alaskan Artist Larry Beck

http://si-siris.blogspot.com/2013/04/larry-beck-native-american-art.html

Please touch tour for the blind

http://www.adn.com/2013/12/02/3209554/pa-museum-tells-blind-visitors.html

AASLH unveils new website “Home for History”

http://www.aaslh.org/

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Alaska State Museums Bulletin 70

Printable Version

Contents:

Snapshot of Shipwreck Artifact Treatments
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Snapshot of Shipwreck Artifact Treatments

By Ellen Carrlee, Conservator, Alaska State Museums 

1 sash pin

1.  Detail of a glass and copper alloy sash pin

You may have heard the Alaska State Museum is in the middle of designing exhibits for the new SLAM building…including some large new items such as a Baldwin electric locomotive and a Bristol Bay Double Ender.  We are also busily packing the current exhibits and collections to move during a six-week window in spring of 2014 before our current building is torn down.  The conservation section is now in temporary quarters at the State Office Building.  You might not have heard that last fall the museum received over 1,000 wet artifacts from the salvage of a gold rush-era shipwreck.  In addition to preparing for the museum’s upcoming move, the conservation lab has been busy treating nearly 30 large totes of wet shipwreck material from the SS Islander.  A Google search will yield the drama behind the recovery of gold that has been an ongoing saga since the wreck of the luxury steamship near Juneau on its way south from Skagway in 1901.  Most of the publications about the Islander explore the exciting tale of gold recovery.  However, it now seems the true treasure of the wreck may be in the hundreds of artifacts that illustrate the lives and times of the people who participated in the settlement and colonization of this part of the world.  Salvage has yielded a wide variety of artifacts in phenomenal condition.  The materials range from leather work boots with their laces in place and iron tools in their original oiled canvas wrap to douche bags, an unopened bottle of ketchup and a child’s rubber doll.

We are now in the final phases of conservation triage for these artifacts, with considerable help from grad student Madeleine Neiman of the UCLA/Getty conservation training program, pre-program conservation volunteer Lisa Imamura, and museum technician Bianca Carpeneti.  Together we are tackling the first aid and drying of these items to allow for curatorial decisions to be made about the collection in its entirety at a later date.  Here is a snapshot of the kinds of materials present and what our treatment decisions have been.

2 doll

2.  Rubber or gutta percha jointed doll

RUBBER AND PLASTIC

There have been many items in the wreck made of rubber or plastic, including this terrific jointed rubber doll.  The conservation of this doll has been described here http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/shipwreck-doll/

Other rubber items include boots, shoes, gaskets, hot water bottles, and personal hygiene items.  The treatment for these items has generally been to desalinate (remove salts) and block them (hold in place until dry).  Artifacts from seawater environments contain salts that should be removed to promote the long-term preservation of the object.  In the case of rubbers and plastics (which are poorly researched in the conservation literature) it seems that repeated soakings in fresh water until the conductivity reading is close to tap water is adequate.  Care must be taken not to scratch the surfaces while cleaning.

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3.  Full glass bottle of ketchup

GLASS

Wine bottles, whiskey bottles, soda bottles, perfume bottles, inkwells, porthole glass, and various kinds of decorative glass have been recovered.  Salts are not a large problem with glass that is in good condition.  We have seen several bottles with their original contents, including the ketchup bottle pictured here.  We removed the ketchup, which is currently in the conservation lab fridge.  It looked, smelled and poured exactly as you would expect from fresh ketchup.  Most likely, it is a brand called Blue Label.

4 thundermug

4.   Holding the joins together while they set: ceramic thunder mug

CERAMICS

Conservation intern Madeleine Neiman explains our worry with ceramics: “Ceramics are among the most common and abundant artifact removed from historic wrecks including the Islander.  Here our primary concern is salts.  Salts may be broken down into categories: insoluble and soluble.  Insoluble salts are typically found as hard surface accretions or stubborn staining.  While they may be aesthetically undesirable, their presence is largely innocuous; they will not compromise the long-term integrity of the object.  Soluble salts, conversely, may cause significant damage.  At the time of excavation, porous ceramic artifacts recovered from marine sites are impregnated with sea water which may include a range of soluble salts (including various phosphates, nitrates and chlorides).  When allowed dry untreated, these salts crystalize within the pores of the ceramic exerting tremendous pressure on surrounding material causing it to fracture and crumble.  As soluble salt are hygroscopic, ongoing fluctuations in ambient humidity will cause continuing cycles of deliquescence (dissolution) and efflorescence (crystallization) compounding the initial damage.  To combat this problem, soluble salts are removed through repeated rinsing prior to drying.  Ceramic objects are placed into large tubs filled with water which are regularly changed. Conservators monitor progress with a conductivity meter, a device which measures the concentration of ions present within the water.  When conductivity remains low and constant over the course of successive water changes, the object can be safely removed from the water and allowed to dry.”

Among the many steamship dishes, the fragments of a “thunder mug” (chamber pot) were found.  The vessel was reconstructed by Lisa Imamura.  After soaking to desalinate, the break edges were consolidated with dilute Acryloid B-72, then joined with a thicker B-72 solution, held in place overnight with blue painter’s tape to keep all the joins properly aligned during drying.

5 Cu alloys drying 1Oct2013

5.   Copper alloys including luggage tags and some of the letters that spell “ISLANDER”

6 Bianca consolidating S18Sept2013

6.    Museum technician Bianca Carpeneti consolidating the putty fill behind a copper alloy letter “S”

COPPER ALLOYS

Brass, bronze, German silver and other alloys of copper account for several hundred items salvaged from the wreck.  These items include jewelry, silverware, lamp parts, tools, hinges and architectural elements.  Salt from the marine environment can bond into the structure of copper and its alloys, making it difficult to remove by passive soaking alone.  Chloride salts in particular can cause damaging cyclic corrosion known as bronze disease.  Standard treatments for forcing chloride salts out of copper alloys include electrolysis and soaking in sodium sesquicarbonate.  Both of these measures were recently used on different portholes from the Torrent in the Alaska State Museum collection.  Testing on the copper alloys from the Islander wreck indicate that extensive soaking seems to drive out enough chlorides to avoid chemical or electrolytic treatment, suggesting that the chemistry and context of the wreck site may have fortuitously resulted in low chloride contamination.  We cleaned and soaked several grommets and small screws, dried them, and then subjected them to a high humidity chamber for several weeks to try to force bronze disease.  Our “test victims” still look fine.

7 iron passivation

7.   Iron tools and pulleys soaking in sodium carbonate passivation solution

8 lisa iron

8.     Pre-program conservation volunteer Lisa Imamura preparing iron for treatment

IRON

Iron has an even greater problem with chlorides and other salts, and there is no sure way to prevent the horrible, disfiguring rusty flaking of iron that exhibits active corrosion.  Unfortunately, we have a huge number of iron items from the wreck, including tools, chains, and pulleys.  When we first saw these, they were blackish on the surface, but soon showed bright orange powdery “flash rusting” in their soaking tubs.  To buy ourselves time, we filled the tubs with an alkaline passivation solution of 5% sodium carbonate.  The literature suggests 5% sodium hydroxide might work better, but we were unwilling to make large baths of caustic solutions without a properly equipped conservation lab.  To our delight, the iron all continues to look good in these solutions.  Usually, this is a stopgap measure until the “real” treatment can happen, but we dared hope: if the chloride contamination is low enough that we didn’t need to take chemical measures with our copper, could we do the same with the iron?  Might successive baths of alkaline passivation soak out enough of the chlorides?  Again we tested some victims…a few small bolts that had been soaked for several months in changes of the passivation solution.  We also tried a supplementary tannic acid treatment.  Interestingly, the iron that got tannic acid treatment burst out in pustules of active and aggressive corrosion, while the soaked samples fared better than the untreated control samples.  Several dozen iron tools with wooden handles were among the items treated.  We are also evaluating the possibility of low RH storage, perhaps in sealed tubs with silica gel to keep the humidity near the iron as low as possible.

9 metal buttons

9.     Two wet lead sash weights

LEAD

Some metals do not hold onto salts in the way that copper and iron can.  Lead artifacts, for example, tend to dry well without extensive desalination, and soaking in freshwater can actually promote some kinds of corrosion.  The lead buttons pictured here are most likely “sash weights” or “hem weights” sewn into the bottom of a garment or curtain to insure proper draping.

10 sharpening stone

10.  Sharpening stone

STONE

A few stone items have been recovered, mainly architectural elements like countertop fragments, but also sharpening stones such as the one pictured above.

11 plane T Rogers

11.  Part of a woodworker’s plane stamped with the name “T. Rogers”

WOOD

Waterlogged wood is often highly degraded, and air drying without an impregnant often results in severe cracking, warping, and distortion of the wood.  The details of this process are described here:

http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/waterlogged-wood-deterioration/

The standard treatment for waterlogged wood is impregnation with polyethylene glycol, a water soluble wax whose use is described here:

http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/what-do-we-know-about-peg/

However, with a few exceptions, the wood from this shipwreck was fairly robust.  Several items had extensive boreholes from sea worms, but the majority of the items were in good condition and were successfully air dried after desalination.  One of the exciting discoveries was the stamp “T. Rogers” on many of the tool handles.  Sadly, he died in the wreck.  Information about him is in a Canadian archive, and connecting his story to these items is an example of the kind of work that is yet to happen on this collection, as Rogers is not the only individual whose name is written on artifacts.

12 shoes30Aug2013 DT

12.  Leather shoes during treatment.  One of them is being stuffed out with rolled cotton towels and wrapped with gauze to prevent distortion while drying.

LEATHER

Most of the leather artifacts from the wreck are shoes and belts, but there have also been two sail maker’s palms (think of a thimble for the hand), the partial covering from a chest, and a wallet.  Some items include metal elements such as buckles and nails.  Many luggage tags made of copper alloy have leather straps.  Conservation intern Madeleine Neiman describes the major concerns with waterlogged leather:

“Animal hide is comprised a network of collagen fibres; chains of amino acids which are spiraled together to form fibrils that, in turn, bundle together to form fibres.  During the tanning process, crosslinkages are created in the fibre structure allowing the hide to retain flexibility as well as resistance to deterioration.  In a waterlogged environment the tanned hide (aka leather) swells and fibres disperse.  Additionally, a variety of chemical reactions occur breaking both intra- and inter-molecular bonds and leading to depolymerization of the protein.  Tanning agents and lubricants applied to the surface of the leather during its period of use to make it supple and flexible are leached out.  When allowed to dry “naturally,” waterlogged leather is overwhelmed by contractile forces; the surface tension of evaporating water pulls together the decayed collagen fibres.  This process causes the leather shrink, stiffen, crack and embrittle. For this reason, objects are often impregnated PEG.  The PRG acts as a bulking agent during drying as well as serving as a lubricant and humectant afterward; it aids the object in maintaining in its original form and lends greater strength and flexibility allowing the leather to withstand gentle handling.”

Iron contamination of leather can also contribute to the breakdown of the leather, as can excessive contamination with salt.  However, just soaking and drying leather can lead to excessive shrinkage and darkening.  Soaking in chemicals meant to drive out the iron can also potentially drive out the tanning agents of the leather.  PEG treatment of leather is sometimes done, but PEG is known to corrode metals.  While we have tested several different cleaning methods and ways to preserve the leather, none are fully satisfactory.  Most of the results have been adequate to save the leather in exhibit-worthy condition, but only a few leather items meet all our wish-list criteria: natural colored, unshrunken, no cracks or tears, supple and flexible, robust, etc.  Most are a bit dark and rather stiff.  Still, it is wonderful to have these items survive at all.

13 clothing drying

13.  Wool clothing set out for drying the month before the conservation lab moved out of the museum

TEXTILES/PAPER

While the leather has been a wild card, the textiles have been wonderful.  Most of them seem to be wool, and the stitching had disintegrated in many cases, leaving our jackets, pants, vests and linings in multiple pieces.  Or could there have been a tailor shop?  So much more to investigate…are these garments all the same size?  Why do we see thread in some places but not others?  What could our collection of brushes from the wreck tell us?  Some of the hairbrushes and paintbrushes have bristles, while others just have holes.  If it were simply a matter of proteinaceous wool versus vegetative cotton, we would perhaps not expect to see the wood and basketry items in such good shape.  And did I mention we also have some paper scraps?  The textiles are a glorious group, and aside from the dressy coats and vests and even a tuxedo, we also have socks, knitted boot liners, gloves, and what seem to be remnants of upholstery.

14 Madeleine

14.  UCLA/ Getty graduate conservation student Madeleine Neiman painstakingly picks fragments of a paper label out of the bath containing rolls of painted wall coverings

15wallpaper30Aug2013DT6

15.  Detail of yellow paint and floral design on cloth wall coverings

COMPLEX COMPOSITES

The most challenging artifacts have been those that are made of many very different materials.  For example, a box full of tools and garments adhered together by a very tough iron-rich black petroleum distillate of some kind.  Or the tool roll of greased drill bits, each in its own pocket of an incredibly oily canvas cloth.  The cloth is brittle, but the iron cannot stay inside the roll without treatment or it would rust away before anyone could study it.  Most challenging of all, however, are the two rolls of what the 1902 Sears catalog tells me are probably cloth wall coverings.  Dozens of feet of floral printed cloth, and the paint comes off easily on a cotton swab.  How to preserve these?  I guess you will have to stay tuned to hear how that story ends.

As we work through the final tubs of iron, our triage will conclude.  As part of the decision-making process, conservation grad student Madeleine Neiman undertook a grueling literature search and wrote summaries of the standard treatment option for maritime copper, iron, and leather.  Conservation of these materials is commonly undertaken by non-conservation professionals and the results are published only sporadically.  The treatment results of our efforts and our decision logic ought to be fully documented and published to contribute to that global body of knowledge.  But first, we have a museum to move and new exhibits to design and install!  One day, I hope the Alaska State Museum will be able to coordinate an exhibition of SS Islander artifacts to bear witness to the lives of the miners, sailors, entertainers, children, carpenters, and others within the context of daily life during the gold rush in this part of the world.

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Ask ASM

This question came from someone working at an archive who was putting some material on public display for the first time.

Question:  We are getting ready to put together an exhibit case and in doing so, we have a couple questions. First, there is an old press book, from which there are a couple letters that we’re having copied for the case that we would like to display. It has a hard-bound cover, which protects the pages. Would there be any harm in displaying it in the case (like an artifact)…to represent authenticity, if nothing else? I am open to playing with the lights (or at least the light exposure) so that they’re not on all the time over the case.

ASM:  What is the cover made of?

Questioner:  Like a finely woven textile-ish fabric that’s covering a hard book board, both front and back. It has a title that’s hand-written in black ink on the cover, along with a small, less significant label with writing on it in pencil. Overall it’s in good shape; not visually falling apart.

ASM:  Is the textile colored?  Fading of the dye is the big risk, but the textile will face some deterioration at the light levels present.  Not outlandish considering it’s a  the book, and the deterioration might be in an OK level for what it is, although if the cover is colored, red or blue in particular, you are likely to end the exhibit with one side of the cover that is lighter than the other….

Questioner:  No, it’s not colored.  It’s a drabby, neutral color.

ASM:  Probably an acceptable level of risk then…

Questioner:  Meaning….it’s OK or not OK to put in the case?

ASM:  Meaning, you will get some level of deterioration to the textile fibers, which will be weakened to some small degree by that light exposure, but not likely much deterioration to the paper or to the color of the cover.  In the museum field, the light level you have for that exhibit case would probably be too high for the museum to put it in long-term if it were an object in our collection, but as an archive you may have a different set of criteria for preservation/exhibition.  There is also the possibility that in the museum, the curator and other staff might say that the importance of exhibiting a particular book would outweigh the potential for minor increased deterioration. I can tell you want will happen, and what the museum would likely do, but whether to put it in or not isn’t my final decision.  Exhibiting original collections materials is always a balance of pros and cons.

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Shaking the Money Tree

AAM

Deadline: December 1

Website:  http://www.aam-us.org/resources/assessment-programs/MAP

The Museum Assessment Program (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. IMLS-funded MAP grants are non-competitive and provide $4,000 of consultative resources and services to participating museums.

MAP provides guidance and growth in the following areas:

  • prioritization of goals
  • focus on mission and planning
  • communications between staff, board and other constituents
  • credibility with potential funders and donors
  • The program offers four assessments:
  • Organizational
  • Collections Stewardship
  • Community Engagement
  • Leadership (full cost only)

Each assessment can be completed in less than a year. Costs to participate range from free to $750. Please contact MAP staff to be added to a notification list for when the next application is available.

MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement between the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance.

IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting applications in each of its museum grant programs. The application deadline for each of these programs is December 2, 2013.

For more information about these funding opportunities, including program guidelines, contacts, and webinar access information, click on one of the following links.

IMLS staff members are available by phone and email to discuss general issues relating to these funding programs.   http://www.imls.gov/

NEH

Sustaining Cultural Heritage

The next grant deadline is December 12, 2013.

The National Endowment for the Humanities invites applications from nonprofit museums, libraries, archives, and educational institutions in the United States to its Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program. This grant program encourages cultural institutions to plan and implement preventive conservation projects that pragmatically balance preservation goals, cost, and environmental impact. Projects should be designed to be as cost effective, energy efficient, and environmentally sensitive as possible, and they should aim to mitigate the greatest risks to collections rather than to meet prescriptive targets.

Planning grants of up to $40,000 (with an option to request an additional $10,000 to implement a recommendation made by the planning team) are available to bring together interdisciplinary teams that will work collaboratively to identify sustainable preventive conservation strategies.  Planning teams should consider the nature of the materials in a collection; the performance of the building, its envelope, and its systems in moderating internal environmental conditions; the capabilities of the institution; the nature of the local climate and the effects of climate change; the cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of various approaches to preventive conservation; and the project’s impact on the environment.

Implementation grants of up to $350,000 are available to manage interior relative humidity and temperature by passive methods; install heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems; install storage systems and rehouse collections; improve security and the protection of collections from fire, flood, and other disasters; and upgrade lighting systems and controls to achieve levels suitable for collections that are energy efficient.

With Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grants, cultural institutions are

* reevaluating specifications for relative humidity and temperature and establishing realistic and achievable targets;

* identifying passive (non-mechanical) strategies for creating more stable collection environments;

* investigating how the environmental management features of historic buildings might be used, especially those related to ventilation and control of solar gain;

* studying the natural variations in a building to identify spaces best suited for collections;

* employing the concept of multiple layers of buffering to create more stable conditions for collections;

* reorganizing collections by material type, locating more vulnerable collections in spaces that are more naturally stable;

* considering how docent-led tours might be re-routed to minimize the introduction of unconditioned air;

* repairing building envelopes and improving site drainage to prevent moisture infiltration;

* evaluating mechanical systems and optimizing their performance;

* exploring control strategies and programming of building automation systems for operating HVAC systems more efficiently;

* adopting, when possible, simple and easy to maintain mechanical systems and controls;

* designing mechanical systems that are “right sized;”

* implementing managed setbacks and shutdowns of climate control systems in well insulated spaces; and,

* installing energy efficient lighting and employing occupancy sensors for control in storage spaces and galleries.

Guidelines, FAQs, and sample narratives from successful applications are on the NEH Web site: www.neh.gov/grants/preservation/sustaining-cultural-heritage-collections.

A list of previous awards can be found here:  www.neh.gov/files/divisions/preservation/sustaining_cultural_heritage_collections_awards.pdf

Program officers are available to discuss project ideas and read draft proposals. Please contact the division for more information by emailing preservation@neh.gov or calling 202-606-8570.

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Alpine Historical Society

The project of placing 1918-1967 outdoor coal mining equipment on cement foundations at the Alpine Historical Park in Sutton, AK began with a FY 2010 Alaska State Museum mini grant.  David Harvey, objects conservator, visited the park in August 2009 and assessed 19 pieces of equipment that were moved to the park from nearby closed coal mines in1989.  Most of them were placed on the ground or on railroad ties and were slowly sinking into the ground and growing lichen on them.  Mr. Harvey gave the Alpine Historical Society (AHS) a thorough report on each piece of equipment’s condition and how we might prevent further deterioration.  In 2010 we removed three large cottonwood trees that were contributing to the moisture and lichen growth around the equipment.  The remaining large stumps and roots were removed in 2012.  A FY 2011 Alaska State Museums mini grant was awarded to place three pieces of coal mining equipment on foundations with pedestals with the majority of mining equipment collection.  A FY 2012 Alaska State museums mini grant was awarded to place two large Boilers on platforms near the Coal Washery separate from the general equipment display. Bird nests, lichen and asbestos were previously removed from the Boilers.  The remaining five large pieces of coal mining equipment were placed on cement foundations and pedestals when AHS was awarded a large FY 2013 Alaska State Museums grant.

The whole exhibit looks terrific.  We have had a number of Park visitors comment how well the equipment is displayed, and it is an important attraction to the community from the newly established Sutton Community Library/Resource Center which shares the Park’s parking lot.


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Alaska Museums in the News

Campaign kicks off to honor Alaska Native actor Ray Mala

http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/campaign-kicks-off-to-honor-alaska-native-actor-ray-mala/article_e7728a9a-4a42-11e3-8f79-0019bb30f31a.html

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

Free webinars from the California Preservation Program and Infopeople!

This series of four webinars will provide participants with an overview of the preservation standards for the many aspects of collections care, will give benchmarks for measuring and improving preservation within an organization, and give guidelines for establishing a preservation program.

Webinar 1:  Preservation Best Practices: Fundamentals and Facilities

Presenter:  Laura Hortz Stanton

Date:  Thursday, November 21st, 2013 

Start Time:         11 am AKST

The first in this series will cover basic preservation and collections care concepts and will give participants an introduction to establishing a preservation program within their institution. In addition, this session will discuss the role that facilities, security, and housekeeping have in the long-term preservation of collections.

Intended Audience: This webinar will be of interest to librarians, archivists, collections managers, curators, and other staff members involved in collections care who must manage a variety of tasks, including implementation of collections management plans and policies, management of environmental controls and storage conditions, and provision for safe use and exhibition of collections.

Other Webinars in the Series:

Webinar 2:  The Role of Environment in Collections Care: Temperature & RH, Lighting, and Pest Management, Thursday, December 5, 2013, 11 am AKST

Webinar 3:  Collections Care: Handling, Access, Storage, and Exhibition, Thursday, December 12, 2013 11 am AKST

Webinar 4: Planning and Prioritizing: Tools for Success, Thursday, December 19, 2013 11 am AKST

This series is sponsored by the California Preservation Program, a project of the California State Library, supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. For more information and to participate in the webinars, click on the links above.

Webinars are free of charge, you can pre-register by clicking on the Join Webinar button now or go directly to the webinar by clicking on Join Webinar within 30 minutes of the start of the event. If you pre-registered you will receive an email with login link and a reminder email the day before the event. If you did not preregister and you can register in the 30 minutes prior to the event and directly enter.

If you are unable to attend the live event, you can access the archived version the day following the webinar.  Check our archive listing at:  http://infopeople.org/training/view/webinar/archived

C2C Webinar

Conservation Assessment Program

December 10, 2013, 10:00 am – 11:00 am AKST

Join us for an informative webinar about the Conservation Assessment Program application and participation! CAP helps small to mid-sized museums secure a general assessment of their collections and historic structures. A CAP assessment is a great first step in prioritizing your museum’s collections care needs, and a wonderful building block to go on to secure more targeted funding. The CAP staff will cover the basics of eligibility requirements, the application, and CAP participation. Check out the sample CAP application (http://heritagepreservation.org/CAP/docs/SampleApp2013.pdf) and bring your questions!

To join go to http://www.connectingtocollections.org/meeting/

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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

At Historic Homes, Unearthing a Deeper View of Slavery

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/arts/artsspecial/at-historic-homes-unearthing-a-deeper-view-of-slavery.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Charles Edenshaw Exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery

http://projects.vanartgallery.bc.ca/edenshaw/

History Matters, Students Matter.  Public Engagement Matters

http://vimeo.com/76743251

Cool website on learning through objects

http://www.objectlessons.org/

Refuse to Fold

http://engagingplaces.net/2013/11/14/video-refuse-to-fold-heritage-tourism-in-the-mississippi-delta/

Off with their Heads?  Matchbooks in Archives

http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/their-heads-matchbooks-archives

The Greatest Wild West Poster Ever Told

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9nFpsqSMpU&feature=em-share_video_user

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Alaska State Museums Bulletin 69

Printable version

Contents:

Museum Adventures
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web   

 

 

Museum Adventures in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska  

By Sarah Schaefer, Museum Intern

Sarah in kuspuk

When I saw the Alaska State Museum internship opportunity come up on my school’s Listserv, I didn’t hesitate. I knew it would be a great adventure for me.  When I applied, I was not sure where my placement would be, although I hoped it would be in some remote village in Alaska. When I found out I would be placed in Anaktuvuk Pass at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum, I received the news with both excitement and trepidation. I’m a California girl through and through. I’m a vegetarian, I don’t love the outdoors, I could live without cold temperatures, and for me hiking happened only on an annual trip to Lake Tahoe. I was not sure how I would fare in Anaktuvuk Pass, a small Nunamiut Eskimo village in northern Alaska.

I was not really sure what to expect. When I left I was packed and ready for temperatures as low as 0 and as warm as 90 degrees. I had my not very pretty hiking boots, a mosquito jacket, mosquito netting for my bed in the hotel, and my Nook, loaded with enough books to keep me entertained for two months if I truly didn’t have cell phone service or Internet. I also had enough food to last me a week while I figured out the grocery store and restaurant’s vegetarian options.

I arrived in Anaktuvuk Pass on Saturday June 29, 2013, and spent my first day at the Museum on July 1. There I met Vera Woods, the museum curator and sole employee, and was shown around the new, and beautiful, Simon Paneak Memorial Museum. It is better than most small history museums in the lower 48! I was reminded not to assume anything.

4th july

The following three days I had off for the Fourth of July, giving me time to settle into the hotel, explore the town, and experience how the Nunamiut celebrate the Fourth. In the morning, there is a shooting contest, followed by a feast and then Eskimo Dance. The day was both fun and challenging. While I am a very outgoing person, these types of situations make me shy. Since I didn’t have any experience with guns or really know anybody, I was forced to overcome my fear of being the outsider, get over my shyness, meet people, and enjoy the festivities. By the end of the night, I got up and participated in the Eskimo Dance. I enjoyed myself and was reminded to try things no matter what! This time it was Eskimo dancing; later in my stay, it was walking to the end of the road alone, going berry picking, and eating Caribou jerky, soup, and fry! I also constantly tried to repeat and learn words in Inupiaq, the language of the Nunamiut. I was not always successful, but by the end of my stay I could properly pronounce several words.

Unfortunately, during the Fourth of July weekend games, Vera had to accompany her mother, who was seriously injured in an all-terrain vehicle race, to Fairbanks and then Anchorage for the next three weeks. Vera’s absence left me to manage the daily operations of the museum, although Vera’s availability by phone to answer questions was a huge help. In my second week, Vera’s first week away, I was still waiting for Past Perfect 5, the museum’s new collection management software, to be installed by the North Slope Borough. During the week I focused on becoming acquainted with the museum, and spent time looking through the museum collection records, figuring out how the museum was organized and how past employees had processed donations. I also hosted visitors at the museum, and re-organized the museum’s library as well as the gift shop’s back-stock room.

Museum Store

During my third week in Anaktuvuk Pass, North Slope Borough employees from Barrow came and facilitated the installation of Past Perfect 5. As a result, I was finally able to set up the software and begin entering donation records.

Sarah at computer

At this point, I was unsure of exactly what Vera needed or wanted me to do, but I knew I needed to do something, so I decided to move forward by entering the paper records into Past Perfect. The situation reminded me to always find ways to keep working, moving forward, and learning, even if the situation is not exactly how I or others planned. I knew digitizing the paper records into the database would be a valuable contribution to the museum, because it would provide employees an easily searchable source, which would make any future collection work easier. Although I knew the collection storage areas needed to be organized in order to make the collections more accessible, I decided to focus on entering records because I felt it was important to wait for Vera to return prior to rummaging through and reorganizing the collection storage areas.

sarah files

The collection records were organized by donor name and each year had an accession list. For each donor I processed, I entered the contact information and then all the accession and catalog records associated with that donor. If I entered a collection record, and I could easily find the item, I would ensure the item was numbered and then I would scan or photograph it. I would then return the object, and note the location in Past Perfect. If I entered a record, and I could not locate the item, I listed the location as unknown. In the future, once all the records are entered into Past Perfect, individuals trying to locate the paperwork for an unnumbered artifact can first search using object name or description, and then, if all else fails; they can search through all the artifacts with unknown locations.

The employees from Barrow were a great help. Their visit marked a real turning point in my internship, not only because I finally had Past Perfect, but also because they helped me feel more settled and involved in the Anaktuvuk Pass community. They introduced me to their friends living in the village, whom they met playing on rival city league basketball teams. They invited me to go places with them, explained how things in the village worked, and finally got me to try the restaurant. I also was able to learn about the cultural traditions in Barrow, which was an unexpected bonus. I even got to see some muktuk (whale blubber) and Caribou jerky up close!

muktuk caribou jerky

Vera was able to return the first week of August, enabling us to create a plan for my final four weeks of internship. The plan included a physical inventory of the collection storage room, training Vera on Past Perfect, and assisting Vera with writing a Past Perfect Manual.

storage room before 2 storage room before 1

Our first step was organizing the collection storage room, so staff could access all of the storage cabinets and shelves. We started by putting all the electronics and archival materials in one location, leaving the rest of the storage room for collections, loans, research materials, and education materials. We also moved many display cases to free up space in the storage room. The smaller display cases were moved to the top of the cabinets to utilize the room’s vertical space. The larger display cases were moved into the Elders’ Room. Vera and I discussed possible mini exhibits that could be put into these display cases. I hope in the fall she implements some of our ideas, which included displaying elders’ personal collections, interesting artifacts from the storage room, or even local children’s artwork. Rotating exhibits, which involve the community, would be valuable to help keep local residents engaged and visiting the museum.

Once we had organized the collection storage space, and we could access each cabinet or shelf, we numbered each cabinet, shelf, drawer, and box. We decided to also number all of the library’s cabinets, shelves, and drawers. Luckily, the exhibit cases were already labeled. The cabinet, shelf, drawer and box numbers allowed us to provide more precise locations in the physical inventory and in Past Perfect.

storage bins

Next, we started the storage room’s physical inventory, which included unpacking and re-housing the majority of the museum’s collection. We found we needed additional shelves to house the large parkas and pants in the large storage cabinets. Since we were in a remote village and couldn’t just go to the local Home Depot to get the supplies we needed, we had to get creative and problem solve. In the end, we were able to make shelves out of leftover foam board, which was suspended in the cabinets using cut strips of cotton muslin.

file cabinet

During the inventory process, Vera and I together ensured every object in the collection had a number. This often meant we needed to call the previous curator or rely on Vera’s excellent memory to learn an artifact’s donor and history. Sometimes, Vera and I had to search through various possible donors and accession lists to find an item’s paperwork, which would allow us to tag it with its appropriate number. In some instances, we needed to accession an item and send the appropriate paperwork to be signed by the donor. Objects for which Vera needed more time to research the history and donor, we provided a temporary number. There were even a few objects that were added to the 2013 “found in collection” accession record in Past Perfect.

storage support

It was very rewarding to sort out the paperwork and numbers for the many unnumbered objects. I am very happy that from here on out there is a record, which corresponds to numbers on the objects, for all the permanent collection items in the storage room. In total, we inventoried 624 objects. When we were unpacking, we found some objects that had carpet beetle remains in the bags and on the fur. To be safe we decided to freeze them to limit the risk of infestation. We re-housed and numbered the objects and added them to a Freezer Inventory list. There were a total of 7 objects added to the freezer inventory, which can be found in the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum’s Physical Inventory Binder under Freezer Inventory.

While working on the inventory, I came across a number of unnumbered objects that were collected, created or purchased by the previous curator for research or education programs. They did not have accession or donor records. The majority of them were maps, used by the previous curator in his research.

research materials

The presence of these objects led to a discussion with Vera about how to deal with these items. We could give them all temporary numbers until Vera is able to find the maps’ donors and accession them into the collection, but the question became should they be accessioned into the museum’s permanent collection.

After multiple conversations with Vera and some consultations with other registrars, we decided the museum needed to have an education “collection” and a research “collection.” Items so designated would receive numbers, but education numbers would have an E in front, and the research numbers would have an R in front. These “collections” would be tracked using past perfect, but they would not be accessioned into the museum’s permanent collection, and would not require the same standard of care as the permanent collection. The differentiation will help ensure that the limited resources are going first to care of the museum’s permanent collection and then to the care of research and education materials. Incoming donations with contents that are appropriate for the research or education collections would receive altered deed of gifts and thank you letters.

Understanding this distinction took time, but Vera and I finally reached a common understanding. Vera now has a better grasp of her curatorial role in deciding what to accept in donations and whether an item in a donation should be added to the permanent collection or the education or research collections. In our many discussions, we talked about what would constitute a research, education, or permanent collection artifact. For example, the previous curator, Grant Spearmen, did many research projects using maps. In the collection room there are hundreds of maps, which reflect his research. Unfortunately, most of the maps are not sufficiently labeled and the significance of most maps is unclear. As a result, the maps are currently part of the research collection, since they are just maps that can be used for general research. If Vera can learn more about the historical significance reflected in the maps, she could consider adding the most relevant or rare maps into the permanent collection.

Since we had limited time, we were not able to give all the research and education materials numbers. However, all the education materials were grouped in one location and noted in the inventory. The research materials, the majority of which were maps, were grouped together in two locations. The research maps located in the map case were given a detailed inventory, which can be found in the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum’s Physical Inventory Binder under Appendix A. We also grouped old exhibit panels and noted their location in the collection storage room inventory. Finally, there is also a file cabinet, which houses the school district collection. When I left on August 25, 2013 it was still unclear whether the school district collection was part of the permanent collection. That entire collection has yet to be inventoried and numbered. Everything in the cabinet should get temporary numbers this winter, so they can be tracked while Vera sorts out who the various donors were.

Below are images of the organized collection storage room:

storage room after 2 storage room after 1 storage drawers open drawer

Even after Vera returned, and we started on the physical inventory, I continuously worked on entering the museum’s donor, accession, and catalogue paper records into the Past Perfect 5 database. In the five weeks I was able to work on Past Perfect, I inputted 34 contacts, 39 accessions, 70 object catalogue records, 145 photograph catalogue records, 579 library catalogue records, and 38 archive catalogue records. In addition, I scanned 110 images, which can be uploaded to Past Perfect, once Vera receives the media upgrade this fall.

I also spent time going over Past Perfect with Vera and wrote a “how to manual” she can use when entering data into Past Perfect in the future and when she writes the official Past Perfect Manual for the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum. One of the best moments was when I explained how the Lexicon portion of Past Perfect works, and how Vera can use The Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging: A Revised and Expanded Version of Robert G. Chenhall’s System for Classifying Man-Made Objects to save a great deal of time finding an artifact’s object name within the Lexicon. I only learned about this trick recently, so it was very exciting to pass this knowledge on to someone else! I still can’t believe I spent so many years just aimlessly searching the Lexicon. I am glad I can spare Vera all that wasted time.

In my last week, I created a step-by-step outline for how I would proceed with the collection organization process. I hope this outline, as well as my work with the collections will be a helpful foundation for future work accessioning donations, entering data into Past Perfect, properly numbering artifacts, and completing an inventory of the library, artifacts in storage, and research and education collections in the storage room.

In addition to my collection work, I hosted 208 paying visitors at the museum, many of which were part of the guided tours that occurred while I was working at the museum. There were a total of 35 guided tours. In my two months, I sold $8,500 dollars’ worth of museum merchandise and admission tickets. I was very excited to learn this was a significant increase to the average monthly sales!

beautiful view

Working at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum and living in Anaktuvuk Pass was, in short amazing. I not only got to work in a beautiful location and facility and handle cool artifacts, but I also got to work with people who are passionate about their culture and the museum field. It was exciting to be around them and I couldn’t help but feel grateful to be there every day, trying to commit every detail to memory. By the end of my stay, I felt like a part of the community, part of a family of friends. Many people knew my name, or at least recognized me by my bright green jacket. The dogs no longer barked when I walked by, and the museum office and hotel room felt like my second and third homes. Vera became not only a friend, but a surrogate mom, checking in on weekends and giving me life advice.

Sarah and Vera

When I arrived in AKP, I was afraid the small village, with its fresh air and relative quiet, would drive me slowly insane, but instead it gave me a sense of peace. It turns out I took to it like a duck to water. I wore my not so pretty mosquito jacket and hiking boots without a second thought, relished in the splendor of the outdoors and enjoyed my daily walks around the village, found I loved most aspects of village life, and loved how everybody waved or said hello when they passed you on the street, regardless of whether or not they knew you. Having now been home in the San Francisco Bay Area for a week, and I can say the people here don’t wave back!

There were some aspects of village life that were challenging, such as learning about wolves and bears lurking around the village as you walk to work, or having broken toilets and limited water use in the hotel for several weeks. The challenges helped reinforced for me that life happens and I have to deal with it – always focus on the positive. There is always something to be gained, even in difficult situations.

For example, now I know when the village appears deserted in the early evening it is very likely there is a predatory animal lurking around and I should be careful. Another example came after several weeks of no toilets and very sporadic water usage at the hotel. I was beginning to get frustrated until I learned the entire village of Wainwright, Alaska had been completely out of water for several days, reminding me it is always worse somewhere else, so I should be grateful!

It is still too early to tell all the ways this experienced has changed me, but I already know I left Anaktuvuk Pass with more confidence, a stronger sense of self, and a willingness to try new things. I also feel re-engaged with museum work, and passionate about collection management. My time working in the store and answering tourist’s questions also reminded me of the joy I get from interacting with diverse groups of people. I loved meeting and talking with visitors from Anaktuvuk Pass, Barrow, the lower 48, and countries around the globe. There is a famous song entitled, “I left my heart in San Francisco,” which I played on repeat on my Flight to Alaska, because when I headed for Anaktuvuk Pass, I did leave my heart in San Francisco, with my family, friends, and home in the Bay Area. What I didn’t anticipate at the time was that in a few short months I would be leaving a part of my heart in Anaktuvuk Pass as well.

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Ask ASM

Question:  We have been offered some display style glass cases.  They look like they came out of one of an old store that I remember from back in the early 60’s.  Should we use them for our new museum or maybe some other museum might have a use for them.

Store Display case

ASM:  These cases are not suitable for museum use for all the reasons you would guess, not the least of which is that they appear to be made of oak.  While oak is a lovely material for furniture, it off-gasses acetic acid which will damage your collections.  The other issues are that these types of cases do not protect against insect infestations, dust, or environmental changes.   Security can be an issue as well if they do not have locks that work.  The general low format makes it difficult to mount objects and light them properly so that people can see them.  The shelves will always cast a shadow on the artifacts below.

These style cases can be found in many small museums around Alaska.  They were inherited from the local department store when they upgraded to more modern styles.   No one seems to be happy with them as all the problems mentioned above sooner or later become evident.  You want to start off your new museum with the best cases you can get, so that you can truly protect your collections.  The artifacts deserve it.

As far as recommending them to another museum … well they will always have the same problems.

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Shaking the Money Tree

 IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting applications in each of its museum grant programs.

The application deadline for each of these programs is December 2, 2013.

For more information about these funding opportunities, including program guidelines, contacts, and webinar access information, click on one of the following links.

IMLS staff members are available by phone and email to discuss general issues relating to these funding programs.   http://www.imls.gov/

NEH

Sustaining Cultural Heritage

The next grant deadline is December 3, 2013.

The National Endowment for the Humanities invites applications from nonprofit museums, libraries, archives, and educational institutions in the United States to its Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program. This grant program encourages cultural institutions to plan and implement preventive conservation projects that pragmatically balance preservation goals, cost, and environmental impact. Projects should be designed to be as cost effective, energy efficient, and environmentally sensitive as possible, and they should aim to mitigate the greatest risks to collections rather than to meet prescriptive targets.

Planning grants of up to $40,000 (with an option to request an additional $10,000 to implement a recommendation made by the planning team) are available to bring together interdisciplinary teams that will work collaboratively to identify sustainable preventive conservation strategies.  Planning teams should consider the nature of the materials in a collection; the performance of the building, its envelope, and its systems in moderating internal environmental conditions; the capabilities of the institution; the nature of the local climate and the effects of climate change; the cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of various approaches to preventive conservation; and the project’s impact on the environment.

Implementation grants of up to $350,000 are available to manage interior relative humidity and temperature by passive methods; install heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems; install storage systems and rehouse collections; improve security and the protection of collections from fire, flood, and other disasters; and upgrade lighting systems and controls to achieve levels suitable for collections that are energy efficient.

With Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grants, cultural institutions are

* reevaluating specifications for relative humidity and temperature and establishing realistic and achievable targets;

* identifying passive (non-mechanical) strategies for creating more stable collection environments;

* investigating how the environmental management features of historic buildings might be used, especially those related to ventilation and control of solar gain;

* studying the natural variations in a building to identify spaces best suited for collections;

* employing the concept of multiple layers of buffering to create more stable conditions for collections;

* reorganizing collections by material type, locating more vulnerable collections in spaces that are more naturally stable;

* considering how docent-led tours might be re-routed to minimize the introduction of unconditioned air;

* repairing building envelopes and improving site drainage to prevent moisture infiltration;

* evaluating mechanical systems and optimizing their performance;

* exploring control strategies and programming of building automation systems for operating HVAC systems more efficiently;

* adopting, when possible, simple and easy to maintain mechanical systems and controls;

* designing mechanical systems that are “right sized;”

* implementing managed setbacks and shutdowns of climate control systems in well insulated spaces; and,

* installing energy efficient lighting and employing occupancy sensors for control in storage spaces and galleries.

Guidelines, FAQs, and sample narratives from successful applications are on the NEH Web site: www.neh.gov/grants/preservation/sustaining-cultural-heritage-collections.

A list of previous awards can be found here:  www.neh.gov/files/divisions/preservation/sustaining_cultural_heritage_collections_awards.pdf

Program officers are available to discuss project ideas and read draft proposals. Please contact the division for more information by emailing preservation@neh.gov or calling 202-606-8570.

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Baranov Museum in Kodiak

The Kodiak Historical Society requested Grant-in-Aid funding to support the design of new permanent exhibits for the Baranov Museum, a history museum located within a National Historic Landmark building known as the Russian American Magazin in downtown Kodiak. They received a grant for this project from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America program (MFA), under the category of Engaging Communities, in the amount of $52,000. Grant-in-Aid funds, representing 17% of the required match and 8.5% of the project total, specifically supported the hiring of consultant Sarah Asper-Smith of Exhibit AK, and her work in the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 in Stage 1: Research and Conceptual Development and Stage 2: Schematic Design. This project was conceived and implement because, unfortunately, current exhibits at the museum fall far short of effectively meeting the potential of our history and our building. For too long, our exhibiting practices have been largely opportunistic and mostly uncoordinated, and the building itself under-leveraged. Over a period of decades, during which time the Curator of Collections position was either volunteer or part-time, the quantity of material on exhibit has grown to include many hundreds of objects and artifacts, each with an individual label for identification purposes. The result is an outstanding collection of individual pieces on display, but an absence of an over-arching interpretive narrative that provides context for understanding Kodiak history. In addition we seek to better engage diverse populations within our island community. The Baranov Museum has long identified as a community museum and our primary audience is Kodiak Islanders. Cultural diversity is central both to the historic periods of significance associated with the magazin, and to the present-day island population. The history of diversity in the community is little understood, largely unrecognized, and near-completely absent from the current exhibits at the Baranov Museum.

The activities funded in part by the Grant-In-Aid were as follows:

  • A Site Visit by Exhibit Design Consultant who met individually with staff members, held a meeting with key project personnel, and facilitated a staff-wide exhibit planning session.
  • A Community Meeting hosted at the museum that was open to the public and advertised through the local newspaper as well as the Museum’s Facebook page.

group session 2

  • Exhibit Design Survey Exhibit Conceptual Design
  • Second Site Visit by the Exhibit Design Consultant

This project was a first step in filling the void and building the visibility of Kodiak’s history, both to local audiences and scholars of Russian America, the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific world.

SchematicDesign

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Alaska Museums in the News

Fairbanks Children’s Museum celebrates move

http://www.newsminer.com/features/youth/fairbanks-children-s-museum-celebrates-move/article_b73d448c-2fee-11e3-bb41-0019bb30f31a.html

Norm Lagasse is the new Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity

http://www.adn.com/2013/10/04/3109900/habitat-for-humanity-has-new-executive.html

Alaska Native Artist explores contemporary connections through photography

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131003/alaska-native-artist-explores-contemporary-connections-through-photography

Discovery Channel’s ‘Gold Rush’ crew makes questionable last impression in Haines

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131002/discovery-channels-gold-rush-crew-makes-questionable-last-impression-haines

News about the New Dena’ina Exhibit at the Anchorage Museum

http://www.adn.com/2013/09/14/3073944/denaina-way-of-living-exhibit.html

http://www.adn.com/2013/09/14/3074129/first-major-exhibit-of-alaskas.html

http://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/09/12/denaina-exhibit-opens-at-anchorage-museum/

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

 Connecting to Collections

Caring for Audiovisual Material

Audiovisual collections can run the gamut of formats, from analog audio, film, and video to digital audio, film, video, and optical media. This five-part course will examine the various formats and explore the major issues and challenges in preserving them. A team of national experts will help you navigate the mind-boggling array of AV materials and provide practical advice on identifying, caring for, handling, storing, and accessing them.

Registration for this course is now open. Click here to register. Please note: registration will close on

Webinar 3: Videotape and Optical Media Identification and Preservation
Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)
Instructor: Linda Tadic

Since videotape was introduced in 1956, dozens of videotape formats have been introduced. Most are now obsolete. Information presented in this webinar will help participants identify common formats that may be found in their collections, understand the formats’ relationship to the equipment required to play the tapes, as well as learn about videotape deterioration and how to prevent it. Preservation concerns with recordable optical media (CD, DVD, Blu-ray) will also be discussed.

Webinar 4: Introduction to Film Preservation
Monday, October 28, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)
Instructor: Jeff Martin

This webinar will instruct participants in the fundamental principles of film preservation that are essential to the care of archival film materials. We will review the physical properties of motion picture film, both historic and current; the processes by which films are shot, edited, and duplicated; and current best practices for long-term storage of film material. This webinar will also explain how to carry out and document a basic film inspection.

Webinar 5: Understanding Reformatting Options and Providing Access
Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)
Instructor: Stephanie Renne

In this webinar, Stephanie Renne will address concepts in digital preservation, from migration of digital assets to issues associated with providing long-term access to digitized and born-digital material. Technical aspects of audiovisual preservation will also be discussed, including the management of a digital archival set comprising preservation master files, web-accessible copies, and user and access copies; challenges faced in the continual obsolescence of media formats; current standards used in file automation of audiovisual material; and playback equipment. Reformatting options and user needs will also be considered to help guide policies, strategies, and actions to ensure access to digital content over time.

Outreach Activities for Collections Care

You know best the unique stories your collections have to tell and work hard to preserve those collections for future generations. But how do you take collections care activities from “behind the scenes” to front and center, engaging and educating the public? In this four-part course, you will learn how to advocate for collections care, showcase the important work that goes largely unseen, and get the message out by working with the media (traditional and social) to reach new audiences.

Registration for this course is now open. Click here to register. Please note, registration will close on Monday, October 28, 2013, one week before the start of the course.

 Webinar 1: Advocacy 101
Monday, November 4, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)
Instructor: Jeffrey Smith

What is advocacy? What does it entail? Learning how to effectively advocate for collections care is key to helping policymakers and the public gain a deeper understanding of the value of preservation and its role in society. This overview will examine advocacy in the context of the legislative process, from the local to the federal level. Jeffrey Smith will discuss the places to go, who to approach, and what to ask for. He will illustrate the mechanics of legislative advocacy—how to reach out via email, phone, and in person—to empower participants to stand up and speak out!

 Webinar 2: Showcasing Collections Care
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)
Instructor: LeRae Umfleet

Visitors to libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies are accustomed to seeing objects on display. Most, though, are less familiar with the work that goes into caring for those objects. Throughout the country collecting institutions are finding creative ways to showcase collections care and engage their local community—and beyond. This webinar will explore collections care in exhibits, special events, and educational programming.

 Webinar 3: Telling Your Story to the Media
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)

Instructor: Anne Edgar

You know that your collection is a veritable storehouse of fascinating stories.  But how do you convince a journalist of that?  As a New York-based arts publicist who regularly secures media coverage for museums large and small, Anne Edgar will discuss how to capture the attention of the media, especially for those stories that may not at first glance appear compelling. Whether or not you are responsible for public relations at your institution, Anne’s advice will help de-mystify the agenda of the news media and, most importantly, help you view your collections from the standpoint of public interest.

 Webinar 4: Engaging Audiences with Social Media
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 10- 11:30 a.m. (AKST)
Instructor: Dana Allen-Greil

Strategic use of social media can help your organization tap into enthusiast communities and open up access to your collections and expertise. In this session, learn how to select and use the right social platforms for your target audience, topic, and available resources. We’ll discuss how to leverage free tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, and Google Hangouts to connect with today’s audiences and engage them in meaningful conversations about your work.

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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Getty Conservation Institute’s video on cleaning of acrylic painted surfaces

http://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/teaching/conserving_modern.html

Museum 2.0 post about an interesting an experimental museum

http://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2013/10/guest-post-restoration-artwork.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+museumtwo+%28Museum+2.0%29

A History of the future in 100 objects

http://ahistoryofthefuture.org/

Rembrandt Enlivens Shopping Mall

http://engagingplaces.net/2013/09/26/video-rembrandt-enlivens-shopping-mall/

The good, the bad, and the ugly of QR codes

http://econsultancy.com/nz/blog/63437-qr-codes-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-reprise

87 Award-winning local history projects

http://www.thehistorylist.com/resources/93-87-Award-winning-local-history-projects

Your labels make me feel stupid

http://www.artnews.com/2010/07/01/your-labels-make-me-feel-stupid/

Museum tower cooks collections

http://www.dmagazine.com/Home/D_Magazine/2012/May/Museum_Tower_The_Towering_Inferno.aspx

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Alaska State Museums Bulletin 68

Printable Version

Contents:

Interview with Jackie Fernandez
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Interview with Curator Jackie Fernandez

Jackie Fernandez assumed the collections curator position at the Sheldon Jackson Museum on March 1, 2013. In her new capacity, she oversees 6,000 artifacts — referred to by some as “the jewel in the crown of the Alaska State Museums’ ethnographic collections”— representing each of Alaska’s Native groups.

 “You’re talking about an ethnographic collection on par with the Smithsonian,” says Fernandez, who, in addition to working with the collection, also plans to expand public dialog between the Sheldon Jackson Museum and the community. “The Sheldon Jackson Museum, the Alaska State Museum, and of course, both museums’ staff, engage the public with these artifacts in a way few other institutions do. I’m really excited to be a part of that.” 

 Born and raised in Boston—with stints as a teenager both in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Vermont—Fernandez earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Mount Holyoke, and a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in museum studies from Tufts University. She has interned at various museums and non-profit organizations, both in the Lower 48 and Alaska, including a summer at the Alaska Museum of Natural History in Anchorage as part of Alaska State Museum’s summer internship program, and work at the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines.

Jackie Fernandez

Photo:  Jackie Fernandez

We caught up with Jackie a few months after she got settled in her new position at the Sheldon Jackson Museum:

Why do you want to work in museums? 

I love working in museums for a myriad of reasons. I love that my job allows me to constantly learn and connect with people on many levels – both the visitors and researchers in the museum space and the people who made the artifacts and used them. Like most curators, I am excited about the stories artifacts communicate.

You have had quite a few museum-related work experiences in Alaska, is Alaska a place that you have wanted to settle into more permanently?

 Most definitely. I knew I wanted to settle permanently in Alaska within the first two weeks of my coming here five years ago. If anything, that feeling has only grown stronger. I have every intention of remaining here.

What is your favorite part of the new job?

I enjoy that I have the opportunity to constantly do research, read, and write about all things related to Alaska Natives and Alaska Native ethnographic material. The scholarly work and prospects of creating publications for the museum are especially exciting to me. I feel honored to have the privilege of caring for a remarkable collection of artifacts so indelibly linked to tradition, culture, memory, land, natural resources, and ways of life. I like that I get to work with Alaska Native artists and learn from them on a regular basis.

Lastly, I appreciate the opportunities I have to highlight connections between the past and present and contemporary life and artists and help people be better informed about Alaska Natives, Native Americans in general, and material culture.  Although most visitors are fairly or at least somewhat well informed, some visitors who have never been here enter the museum with misconceptions about Native Americans. They may think that there are no more Native Americans living in the United States or perhaps they know Native peoples are here, but do not understand that there are contemporary Native artists doing really amazing work. Other times visitors don’t necessarily express a misconception but may be a little shortsighted. For example, some individuals come to the museum and express a keen interest in “only pre-contact” material, which is sometimes an indication he or she thinks art made before the arrival of Euro-Americans is somehow more “authentic” or “truly Native.”  Or perhaps someone shows little interest in a piece if it was made for the curios trade because they assume not as much effort or talent was utilized or expressed when the piece was made, which is not necessarily the case.

While I don’t set out to sell ideas about Natives or Native art to people who come to the museum with these kinds of notions, just connecting them with the collection in the right way and helping them see the connection between the past and present is often enough to have a positive impact and dispel myths or at least help them see things in another light.  Talking to a visitor might help them to look at the collection and consider it in terms of Native cultural endurance, to think about how Alaska Natives adapted to challenges including the influx of Euro-Americans, trade, and colonization, and continue to adapt to changes today. Those adaptations and responses are revealed in art. Creativity has persisted and ways of life have and continue to flourish.  All artists, Alaska Native or otherwise, have always been and are constantly developing new ideas, experimenting, being inspired by other sources, adapting, and growing. It is inevitable that culture responds to new stimuli and people know that, but do not always associate that reality with Natives or Native art. Finally, I like the opportunity to encourage people to think about Native American art as fine art and not something that need be relegated solely to natural history museum settings or dioramas.

You come well educated for the position.  Out of all the courses and internships what do you think prepared you best to do the job you are doing right now?

 I think my experience as an intern with the Alaska State Museum which first brought me to Alaska, specifically to Anchorage, and my experience at the Boston Center for the Arts were most useful. Coming to Alaska was a bit of a gamble for me when I first came because I had never been, but in a very short time, I fell in love with Alaska and was able to learn very quickly how Alaskans in general and Alaskans who work in museums in particular, are superior (no offense to people down below) problem solvers. The challenges that come with living in some very remote areas or places without Home Depot or even a road system mean you need to be very creative to “get the job done” – that goes for working in museums and dealing with travelling exhibitions, ordering archival supplies, shipping artifacts, etc. and for any other kind of profession you could be engaged in here.

Working at the Boston Center for the Arts was helpful in preparing me for this position because part of my job there involved being the liaison between about fifty resident studio artists and the nonprofit. I was working with artists all the time and it is a big part of my job now at the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

Do you have any advice for young professionals just starting out or who want to break into the museum profession?

I would encourage them to take risks, be adaptive, flexible, and patient, seek out opportunities to wear as many hats a possible in museum settings, whether it be as an intern, volunteer, or part-time employee. I’d look for a mentor and connect with him or her. Carry out informational interviews with museum professionals who work in the kinds of museums you would like to work at or with the kinds of collections you in which you are interested. And have fun!!

Last year Museums Alaska held its annual meeting in Sitka.  You were involved in the planning and running of that meeting.  How difficult is it to host a Museums Alaska meeting and what are the rewards? 

 It is a lot of work to host a Museums Alaska meeting, but Museums Alaska’s system of committees for programming, host committees, etc. help break down the workload into manageable pieces for each group involved and that makes a huge difference. It is a challenge to be the host organization. I think if you have a very small staff, as we did, but with a lot of planning and the help of some phenomenal interns and volunteers, it can be done.

I think the rewards of hosting a conference include sharing your museum, town, and to an extent, community with people from all over the state is very exciting and fun. I have a great deal of pride in Sitka. I may not be from here, but I have been told many a time that I speak so highly of this island community, picturesque setting, dynamic people, and great arts and culture scene, I should be paid an honorarium by the Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The State has acquired the neighboring building, the former Stratton Library, for use with the Sheldon Jackson Museum.  How do you see this added space enhancing the museum’s programming? 

 The possibilities for the Stratton are almost limitless and very exciting. We offer lots of programming at the Sheldon Jackson Museum now, but it would be a challenge for us to have any lecture or event to accommodate more than thirty or thirty-five people. We are very challenged in terms of space for temporary exhibits, including travelling exhibits and exhibits that could potentially involve contemporary artists.  We also have difficulty with offering certain hands-on workshops or programs or even educational classes due to space limitations. The Stratton opens up a lot of new options for us to better serve the people we serve now, reach new audiences, community members, partner organizations and nonprofits, and contemporary artists – both in Sitka, Southeast Alaska, and across the State. The Stratton will be an incubator and experimental space of sorts for the State Museum, a testing ground for new programs and projects.

While you were working at the Sitka Historical Museum you initiated several community curation projects.  Do you see anything like that on the horizon for the SJM? 

 Yes. Nothing is set in stone and there is a lot of planning that still needs to be done and conversations to be had, but I like the idea of engaging the community and contemporary artists. I have already begun some of that work behind the scenes and am very grateful that the leadership at the Alaska State Museum is supportive of those kinds of activities. I work for and with people who are visionaries. The sky is the limit.

Here is a philosophical question:  What role do you think museums should play in society?

 I think the most important role museums should play in society is to be welcoming community spaces where people can interact and engage with and learn from each other, have important dialogues, and ask questions. Museums should stimulate ideas and creativity, inspire, and move people. They should support independent thinking – not strive to give all the answers to people but instead provide them with information to formulate some of their own opinions. In the case of museums that collect and exhibit art, I am most fond of the ones that offer at least part of their space as a platform for artists to showcase their work and make efforts to provide resources to working artists – whether it is through workforce development, educational opportunities or some other means.  I am a firm believer in supporting working artists.

What is your favorite thing to do in Sitka?

My two favorite things to do in Sitka are work at the Sheldon Jackson Museum and spend time with friends on the big World War II era tugboat I just moved into. I have the entire upper level of the boat and because there are windows around the entire room, it’s the best view in town. It’s a very inspiring place to be and relaxing place to spend time with people.

Ok the last on is a tough one.  If the US were playing Argentina in the World Cup final, who would you be cheering for?

¿Scott, Me estas tirando el pelo?

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Ask ASM

Question:  We are in the early stages of putting a whole bunch of paper based materials into archival boxes etc.  We found a couple of old scrapbooks and were wondering what the best way to handle these is.  The albums have paper pages and photographs and newspaper clippings are taped to the pages.  Some of the tape no longer sticks so a lot of the images / clippings are just wedged between pages.

free digital scrapbook paper_vintage men collage

There is also another album with the adhesive-backed pages that are starting to turn.  We were planning on taking the photos out of this album, but I’m wondering if we should keep the other paper-paged ones intact.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 ASM:  Scrapbooks are a can of worms!  Often they have deteriorating elements, like poor quality paper, but the whole of the scrapbook is sometimes an item unto itself, especially if the paper has been written on or decorated.  The experience of flipping through a scrapbook as the creator intended is sometimes lost if it is dismantled. It is important to gauge if there is intent to create a book-like experience for the reader, with writing on the pages/ decorations etc., or if a scrapbook was simply a format to gather stuff in one place without some greater artistic intent.  If the intent was just to gather the stuff in a handy place, then taking it all apart and putting it in better housing seems reasonable.  The big thing is to be careful about maintaining the original order. If it is determined that the creator intended for it to be a book then you will need to preserve it as such with all its inherent flaws.


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Shaking the Money Tree

Congratulations to the following Alaskan institutions that recently received federal grants.

 Ahtna Incorporated – Anchorage, AK

Award Amount: $50,000

Contact: Ms. Katherine McConkey
Cultural Center Director
(907)822-3535; ahtnaheritage.kathy@gmail.com

Ahtna, Incorporated, together with Ahtna Heritage Foundation, will use its grant to hire a consultant to produce a plan of exhibits and interpretation for C’ek’aedi Hwnax Cultural Center to portray the history, culture, and language of the Ahtna Athabascan people. The consultant will use concepts and themes developed by the community, and exhibit content will be drawn from C’ek’aedi Hwnax collections and through interviews with Ahtna elders. The plan will guide Ahtna in improving its current exhibits, or fabricating new ones, and in developing interpretive text to help tell the stories that Ahtna people themselves have identified as important.

Chilkat Indian Village – Haines, AK
Award Amount: $48,477

Contact: Ms. Lani Hotch
Project Director/Collection Development Planner
(907)767-5581; lanihotch@aptalaska.net

The Chilkat Indian Village will use its grant to protect clan treasures while work on the new Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Heritage Center is completed. Working with partners, tribal and clan representatives will examine tribally owned objects and other clan collections to identify those with the most immediate storage needs. The project will help tribal members acquire the museum skills necessary for the successful operation of the heritage center.

Koniag, Inc. – Kodiak, AK
Award Amount: $49,673

Contact: Ms. Marnie Leist
Registrar
(907)486-7004; marnie@alutiiqmuseum.org

Koniag, Inc. will use its grant to enable the Alutiiq Museum to enhance the care and interpretation of the Old Karluk collection, recording Alutiiq lifeways over a 6,000-year period. Currently, the Old Karluk collection lacks a full and accurate inventory, is poorly stored and organized, and has few summary documents to assist in its interpretation. Excavators’ field notes have never been turned into maps of site features, and the site’s contents are largely unpublished. This project will generate an accurate, complete inventory; rehouse collections; expand an Alutiiq artifact nomenclature to encompass Old Karluk objects; create resources to aid in site interpretation, and promote public awareness of the collection.

Museum of the North, University of Alaska – Fairbanks, AK
Award Amount: $149,999; Matching Amount: $150,052
Grant Program: Museums for America
Program Category: Collections Stewardship

Contact: Ms. Angela Linn
Senior Collections Manager
(907)474-1828; ajlinn@alaska.edu

The University of Alaska Museum of the North will move data on its cultural collections (anthropological and historical cultural) from outdated databases to the museum’s online, multi-disciplinary collection management system, Arctos, already used by six other museum departments. The Arctos programmer will design a user interface for cataloging cultural collections, map and prepare data in the existing databases, and transfer 800,000 accession and catalog records into Arctos. Several user groups will help evaluate and fine-tune the interface and data entry process. The museum will promote new access to its collections data, and will share project results through professional publications and conference presentations. A wide range of professional, university, and public audiences will gain searchable access to the collections, and other humanities-based collections will learn about the potential to use Arctos.

Alaska State Museum – Juneau, AK
Award Amount: $78,439; Matching Amount: $117,724
Grant Program: Museums for America
Program Category: Collections Stewardship

Contact: Mr. Scott Carrlee
Curator of Museum Services
(907)465-4806; scott.carrlee@alaska.gov

The Alaska State Museum will provide hands-on professional development for 27 staff at 12 Alaskan museums and cultural centers during the move of its 32,000-object collection. The museum will use the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Incident Command System to manage a complex move to a new storage facility. The museum will provide a one-hour project orientation and half-day training sessions for three project phases: move preparation; the move; and unpacking and rehousing. The project will prepare participants for future collection moves, while enabling the museum to safely move collections in a tight timeframe. Project updates and results will be shared through social media, online museum chats, and the museum’s website and bulletin.

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Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The summer of 2012 saw a blending of talent and history at the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Local Juneau resident and Ph. D. candidate Kelsey Potdevin (Athabascan) was hosted by the Institute and spent her summer semester working on collection accessioning, registration and collection preservation.

Photo:  Kelsey Potdevin photo by Zach Jones

Photo: Kelsey Potdevin photo by Zach Jones

When asked about her work at SHI Kelsey stated, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to work as an SHI intern this summer.  After spending the winter learning valuable collections care skills at the Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe, NM I was ready to put my new skills to use within my home community. Here at SHI, my projects have included recording new objects in the accession registry, working within the museum database, rehousing objects in archival storage boxes and constructing mounts. Recently, I carved a foam mount designed to support the delicate elements of a copper trimmed sheep’s horn ladle, an object that was probably carved over 150 years ago. I also had the opportunity to examine the condition of some recently acquired works of the celebrated Jim Schoppert. The latest project that has come my way has been to adapt costume boxes to house the Raven Dance Regalia of the recently passed Nancy Jackson. I’m thankful for the chance to contribute to the safekeeping of Jackson’s cherished performance piece until it can again be shared publicly in the newly erected Walter Soboleff Center”.

With help from the Grant in Aid Fund, Sealaska Heritage Institute was able to meet its mission objective of improving quality care for its historic artifacts by utilizing the many skills and talents Kelsey brought to SHI.

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Alaska Museums in the News

Excavation reveals largest trove of ancient Alaskan artifacts

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021724279_yupikartifactsxml.html

State museum receives grant to pack up collection

http://www.adn.com/2013/09/10/3067451/state-museum-receives-grant-to.html

FNBA donates $10K to Yupiit Piciryarait Museum

http://www.deltadiscovery.com/story/2013/08/28/business/fnba-donates-10k-to-yupiit-piciryarait-museum/1499.html

Tamamta Katurlluta combines native Traditions

http://homernews.com/homer-features/backyard/2013-08-28/tamamta-katurlluta-combines-native-traditions

Seward celebrates 110th Founder’s Day with special guests

http://sewardcitynews.com/2013/08/seward-celebrates-110th-founders-day-with-special-guests/

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Professional Development/Training Opportunities

AASLH

Join AASLH staff for these upcoming free webinars to hear how your organization can get started in two valuable AASLH programs:

“What is StEPs?” Free Webinar

Time. People. Funding. We all want more of these elusive resources. While the StEPs program can’t provide more money, more hours in the day, or more workers, it can help everyone within your organization work efficiently, focus on common goals, and communicate your organization’s success to build credibility and support. StEPs is designed for small- and mid-size organizations including all-volunteer ones. Join us on October 9 from 2 to 3 pm EST to hear how your organization can get started in StEPs. Register here.

“What is Visitors Count?” Free Webinar

It’s not enough to base your museum’s definition of success on visitation totals, budget reports or staff goals and objectives. Successful organizations understand what people expect, need and want when visiting―and what will bring them back again. Visitors Count! helps you collect the feedback and data only visitors can provide. And we deliver professional and confidential analysis of your survey results. Visitors Count! is designed for mid- and large-sized organizations but open to all. Join us on October 22 from 2 to 3 pm EST to determine if the time is right for your museum, historic site or house to use Visitors Count! to learn more about the people who matter most to your organization’s future. Register here.

Connecting to Collections

Caring for Audiovisual Material

Audiovisual collections can run the gamut of formats, from analog audio, film, and video to digital audio, film, video, and optical media. This five-part course will examine the various formats and explore the major issues and challenges in preserving them. A team of national experts will help you navigate the mind-boggling array of AV materials and provide practical advice on identifying, caring for, handling, storing, and accessing them.

Registration for this course is now open. Click here to register. Please note: registration will close on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, one week before the start of the course.

Webinar 1: Basic Concepts and Principles of Audiovisual Preservation
Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 2:00–3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Instructor: Karen F. Gracy

In this introductory session to the topic of audiovisual preservation, Karen F. Gracy will address the major challenges of caring for analog audio, film, and video collections. Participants will learn about the physical composition and vulnerability of audiovisual formats, find out how best to limit deterioration through appropriate storage environments, and become familiar with recommended techniques and approaches for care and handling of these fragile materials.

Webinar 2: Audio Recording Identification and Preservation
Monday, October 21, 2013, 2:00–3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Instructor: Sarah Stauderman

In this webinar, participants will learn about the history of audio recordings from 1877 to the present, some of the deterioration issues of different formats, and the challenges of preserving these materials. The class will cover the basics of mechanical sound reproduction including cylinder recordings and discs, electronic sound reproduction such as magnetic tape, and digital sound formats on CD and in file format. For each of these materials, the instructor will provide common sense techniques and resources to preserve original media. Understanding the principles of capturing audio will help participants understand the issues of reproduction authenticity when reformatting issues are explored in subsequent presentations.

Webinar 3: Videotape and Optical Media Identification and Preservation
Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 2:00–3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Instructor: Linda Tadic

Since videotape was introduced in 1956, dozens of videotape formats have been introduced. Most are now obsolete. Information presented in this webinar will help participants identify common formats that may be found in their collections, understand the formats’ relationship to the equipment required to play the tapes, as well as learn about videotape deterioration and how to prevent it. Preservation concerns with recordable optical media (CD, DVD, BluRay) will also be discussed.

Webinar 4: Introduction to Film Preservation
Monday, October 28, 2013, 2:00–3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Instructor: Jeff Martin

This webinar will instruct participants in the fundamental principles of film preservation that are essential to the care of archival film materials. We will review the physical properties of motion picture film, both historic and current; the processes by which films are shot, edited, and duplicated; and current best practices for long-term storage of film material. This webinar will also explain how to carry out and document a basic film inspection.

Webinar 5: Understanding Reformatting Options and Providing Access
Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 2:00–3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Instructor: Stephanie Renne

In this webinar, Stephanie Renne will address concepts in digital preservation, from migration of digital assets to issues associated with providing long-term access to digitized and born-digital material. Technical aspects of audiovisual preservation will also be discussed, including the management of a digital archival set comprising preservation master files, web-accessible copies, and user and access copies; challenges faced in the continual obsolescence of media formats; current standards used in file automation of audiovisual material; and playback equipment. Reformatting options and user needs will also be considered to help guide policies, strategies, and actions to ensure access to digital content over time.

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Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Art Insurer Suing Christie’s Storage Over Sandy Damage http://appraiserworkshops.blogspot.com/2013/08/art-insurer-suing-christies-storage.html

The top 3 reasons people volunteer

http://info.museumstoreassociation.org/MSAblog/bid/96291/the-top-3-reasons-people-volunteer?source=Blog_Email_[The%20top%203%20reasons%20pe]

National Shelf Appreciation Day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYT8aD9KlmA

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