Contents:My Summer in Anaktuvuk 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
My Summer in Anaktuvuk
By Julie (Nauriaq)Rotramel
This summer I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. It is hard to put into words how this experience has affected me personally so I will begin with what is easy to discuss—my job.
My primary responsibility over the past eight weeks was to organize, digitize and catalog the museum’s collection of photographic prints, slides, negatives, and contact sheets, which comprise a rich visual archive of moments, experiences, events, and people in Nunamiut history.
On June 16, I started with two file drawers. One was filled with the photograph collection in disarray. The second drawer was empty. I started with the accessions that were fairly well organized and moved on from there. As in every museum collection, there were issues that needed to be resolved such as multiple assigned accession numbers and for the umpteenth time I was reminded just how important documentation trails could be. This project was an inadvertent but invaluable learning experience for me. In the process of cataloguing images I paired names to faces (both past and present), began to understand the centrality of the caribou to the nomadic life of the Nunamiut, painted a general picture of the surrounding landscape and came to the realization that nostalgia for the past is universal. My research into provenance issues taught me about the donors, their lives and their connections to the Nunamiut, which added more definition to the picture that has slowly been coming together in my mind over these past two months.
Now, in early August, the first drawer is empty and the second one is beautifully organized with 2,083 items catalogued and digitized. I am proud of my work with this collection because I know firstly, that it will be more accessible and useful now that it is organized, and secondly, it will be more valuable to the museum’s constituents in its catalogued state. In addition to this project, I helped Vera Woods, the museum curator, revise and update the museum’s endowment packet, which was created back in 1999. I ran the museum on holidays or when everyone else was on vacation and enjoyed finding out where tourists were from and hearing their travel stories as much as they liked asking me the same things.
I assisted Jim Barker while he photographed collection objects and picked his brain about all of my amateur photography questions. He is a gold mine of knowledge and experience and has a clear passion for his work. I also taught Vicky Monahan, the office specialist, the basics of Past Perfect so that she could begin cataloguing the library and I organized all of the accession files.
I wasn’t a total museum recluse this summer. My co-workers were both incredibly welcoming, inviting me to (delicious) dinners and hangouts after work. I attended a community meeting and heard NSB Mayor Brower speak, learned how to play snert and talimatak (two very entertaining card games), went hiking, climbed the formidable Soakpak Mountain and took a LOT of pictures.
Regardless of the temperamental weather and the persistent mosquitoes, it is breathtakingly beautiful up here. There is so much life and growth despite the harsh climate and discovering this some days made me laugh out loud or rendered me completely speechless. Much of this discovery took place on my runs out on the road away from town, where I would disturb a flock of jaegers or be humbled by the force of the wind and the size of the mountains. In the summer rainbows are more common than caribou.
I don’t think it’s possible to tire of this landscape (although I haven’t lived here in the winter…). I leave here tomorrow morning. It is a bittersweet feeling to know I will probably not be back. I can only hope that my work has made a small impact and the memory of my presence is a positive one.
Question: Yesterday we received an interesting proposal to use one of our artifacts and I am writing to ask you for some guidance as I do research on how to respond to him. The request came from a model ship builder and he is interested in recording the tone of a bell that we recently acquired so that his model ships will have an accurate bell sound. His intent is to sell the ships with the authentic sound being a selling point. The gentleman has recording equipment and is ready to go. In the museum world it is not that cut and dry. I am concerned that this will set a bad precedent of using an artifact for commercial use. We do have a research request fee structure but that is for paper and photographs and this would fall outside of it. We do not have a use policy. I am also not clear on how copyright would apply to this situation. This request does not necessarily go against our collections management policy which says that artifact use and care should be consistent with museum best practices. The bell was rung publically by the former director before I started at the museum and that is known to the public. Although it is relatively new to the museum, it is one of our most prized possessions. I don’t want any Joe Schmoe off the street to think they can just come in and ring the bell. So my thought was for the museum to make a recording of the bell and sell it to the man. We would then have it on file in the event we wanted to use it in a future exhibit or if someone else requested it. I am doing research to see how other museums have handled similar situations. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
ASM: This is an interesting conundrum. Is it ethical to ring a bell? Is it still a bell if it can never be rung? The biggest issue is that ringing the bell does not promote the public good and that is what your collections is for. You are caring for it in lieu of the public, for the public good. That is your public trust duty. In this situation, ringing seems only to promote the model maker’s bottom line. I think if it had some element of broader public good, like a non-profit using the sound for something that helped someone then you could make an argument for it. Ringing a bell does sound innocuous, but it is the wider precedent that it sets that is the real danger. What about an ethical issue of museum pistol being fired so that a toy maker could sell the gun with “The true sound that shot Lincoln!” Most museums would balk at that.
Unless the bell is already in a category of consumptive use it would set a bad precedent to ring it for commercial gain. However, there is some latitude for recording the ringing of said bell in order to have it as a part of the information about the bell, i.e. what it sounds like. Kind of like having a recording of a Martin Luther King speech on an LP. You might authorize a one time playing of the record so that it could be digitized. What you do with the digital copy is up to a matter of policy.
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Shaking the Money Tree
2015 Conservation Assessment Program Application Available
Heritage Preservation is pleased to announce the availability of Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) application as of October 1, 2014. The 2015 program year marks the 25th anniversary of CAP, and the admittance of our 3000th museum!
CAP is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum & Library Services, and is administered by Heritage Preservation. The program provides technical assistance to small to mid-sized museums to hire a professional conservator, approved by Heritage Preservation, for a two-day site visit. The CAP assessor uses the site visit to examine the museum’s collections, environmental conditions, and sites. The assessor then spends three days writing a report recommending priorities to improve collections care. The assessment reports submitted by professional conservators can assist the museum in developing strategies for improved collections care, long-range planning, and fund-raising for collections care.
Funds are awarded based on the museum’s budget, so the cost to the museum varies. All museums are awarded a collections assessor. Museums with buildings older than 50 years receive additional funds for an architectural assessor to identify priorities for care of the building(s). In the case of institutions such as zoos, aquariums, nature centers, botanical gardens, and arboreta, CAP can fund a specialist to assess the living collections as well as the non-living collections.
Since CAP is limited to a two-day site visit, museums with small to mid-sized collections are most appropriate for this program. Larger institutions are encouraged to contact IMLS for information on the Museums for America (MFA) grant. MFA grants fund a variety of conservation projects, including general conservation surveys that can accommodate a more extensive site visit by a professional conservator.
Geared toward smaller institutions, the CAP application process is simple, and awards are made to eligible applicants as funding permits. The 2015 CAP application will be open until Monday, December 1, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. The online application can be accessed at http://cap.heritagepreservation.org. A link to this website, as well as to a fillable PDF can be found at http://www.heritagepreservation.org/CAP/application.html#apply2
To receive further information, visit our website at: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/CAP/FAQs.html
Call for Applications for Five IMLS Museum Grant Programs for FY 2015
Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting applications in all of its museum grant programs. The application deadline for each of these programs is December 1, 2014.
For more information about these notices of funding opportunities, including instructions for completing applications, contacts, and webinar access information, click on any of the following links.
- National Leadership Grants for Museums
- Sparks! Ignition Grants for Museums
- Museums for America
- Museum Grants for African American History and Culture
- Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program
IMLS staff members are available by phone and email to discuss general issues relating to these funding programs.
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Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Pratt Museum Homer
In July 2012, under a project entitled “Teaching the Future to Care for the Past: Mentoring Museum Interns,” the Pratt Museum received funding for collections care supplies, training from a museum professional, and living stipends for two interns. This support allowed the museum to address areas that needed improvement identified in a 1991 CAP survey, including increased time dedicated to collections care and management, and to address priority needs identified in the Pratt Museum’s long-range collections plan. The funding of this grant helped to educate museum student interns and volunteers in areas of collections management, and to develop skills needed to care for specific objects within the museum’s collection.
During this project, interns and volunteers carried out inventory tasks, assisted in general collections cleaning, and participated in a collections storage workshop. Under the tutelage of Darian LaTocha, the interns and volunteers learned about collections storage solutions, and were trained to create artifact storage boxes using techniques used by LaTocha at the Anchorage Museum. During LaTocha’s workshop and in subsequent weeks, volunteers and interns were able to rehouse almost 50 at-risk objects in the collection and place them in individual artifact boxes. These artifact boxes create barriers between artifacts and eliminate risks that arise from movement and shifting, providing protection that will help the museum to safely store the collection in perpetuity.
This grant allowed the Pratt to support the growth and knowledge of future and current museum professionals. We now have materials and additional trained people who can continue the work of preparing the collections for the move to the new building in a few years as well as long term, safe storage for a variety of objects. Tasks that were performed emphasized the importance of conservation and protection of museum objects so they are not only accessible now, but to future generations as well. Through collaborative efforts from interns and professionals, it is seen that the future of museum collections rests with today’s students.
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Alaska Museums in the News
Shepard Bequeaths donation to Museum Heritiage Endowment Fund
Four Alaskan museums receive federal grants
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Upcoming Webinars for State Cultural Heritage Disaster Networks
Heritage Preservation is proud to present the remaining three webinars in a series devoted to raising awareness about important emergency management programs offered at the state and federal levels. Ample time is built into each 90-minute webinar for Q&A.
Mitigation and Mitigation Planning
Thursday, November 13, 2014
3:00 – 4:30 pm Eastern
Presenter: Scott Baldwin, Mitigation Specialist with the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Topics to be covered include:
- What organizations can do to mitigate damage and loss to the collections and holdings, beginning with hazard identification and risk assessment
- State and local hazard mitigation plans and how to include cultural resources in these plans
- Funding available to private nonprofits (PNPs) through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grants Program
- Communication strategies to engage with emergency managers and related professionals
Disaster and Continuity Planning and Preparedness
Thursday, November 20, 2014
3:00 – 4:30 pm Eastern
Presenter: Kiran Dhanji, Section Administrator, Preparedness, Texas Division of Emergency Management
Topics to be covered include:
- The link between disaster response and continuity of operations plans
- How to identify and plan to recover your essential functions, supported by the four core pillars of continuity planning: leadership, staff, communications, and facilities
- The planning process, including who to involve, when to bring stakeholder groups together, and how to develop useful and used plans
Federal Disaster Recovery Assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Private, Nonprofit Organizations
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
3:00 – 4:30 pm Eastern
Presenter: Mark Randle, SBA Public Information Officer
Topics to be covered include:
- The SBA federal declaration process: How, When, Where
- Loans to help repair/replace property damage
- Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster
- Eligibility, terms, and conditions
- The application process and the processing of applications
- Disbursement of funds and the use of loan proceeds
Who Should Attend?
Interested members of a state cultural heritage emergency network, including but not limited to:
- Representatives of state cultural agencies – State Library, State Museum, State Archives, State Arts Council, State Humanities Council, State Historic Preservation Office – who have an obligation (whether legal or moral) to assist their constituents following a disaster
- Representatives of local, county, state, and federal emergency management (EM) agencies
- Representatives of national, regional, or state museum, library, or archives associations
- Colleagues at other state agencies who would benefit from the webinars. Please pass this email along to them!
Although the information is relevant to all cultural institutions, we’d like to keep participation in the live webinar down to a manageable number so the instructor can field questions that apply primarily to state cultural and EM agencies. Our aim is to provide information that’s most useful to network members, who will then be better equipped to help their constituents.
The webinar will be recorded, and once it’s been posted to the State Heritage Emergency Partnership website, www.heritagepreservation.org/shep, we’ll remind you to notify your constituents of its availability.
Thanks to funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the State Heritage Emergency Partnership 2014 Webinar Series is free. However, registration for each webinar is required for attendance.
Contact Katelin Lee, Emergency Programs Assistant, 202-233-0835.
CREATING AND FUNDING PRESERVATION PROJECTS TO ENHANCE COLLECTION CARE
Fairbanks, Alaska, Thursday November 20, 2014, 9a.m.-4p.m.
University of Alaska, Rasmuson Library, Room 340, 310 Tanana Loop, Fairbanks, Alaska
Sponsored by Western States & Territories Preservation Assistance Service (WESTPAS)
Workshop instructor: Gary Menges, Librarian Emeritus, University of Washington
Do you want to get a preservation grant to take care of your collections? Many institutions have used grant-funded projects to enhance the level of care they can provide for their collections, and sometimes even to jump start their preservation programs.?
“Creating and Funding Preservation Projects to Enhance Collection Care” is a one-day workshop that begins with identifying and setting priorities among collection needs. With a clear sense of needs, the second part of the workshop reviews sources of grant funding available to your institution. The third part of the workshop addresses the key preservation questions asked on grant applications – participants answer the questions on behalf of their institutions, building the elements of a proposal for their own collection. The workshop emphasizes working collaboratively with colleagues to develop and receive feedback on project proposals.?
By the end of the workshop day, participants will have:?
* Outlined a preservation project proposal specific to their institution
* Identified possible funding sources
* Tested their ideas with other workshop participants?
Who should attend: Administrators and staff responsible for care of the collection in all types of archives, libraries, and museums, with an emphasis on small-to-medium sized institutions without preservation grant writing experience. By registering for the workshop, the institution commits to supporting the attendee(s) to achieve the workshop’s goals to develop and submit proposals for preservation projects to enhance collection care. When possible, TWO attendees from an institution should attend so they can work together on project development.?
Cost: No charge to the institution. WESTPAS is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.?
Registration: Pre-registration required. Register online at:
http://tiny.cc/ZePOL?(Go to November 20 and click on the date.)
Additional Information about the workshop will be sent to the registrants before the workshop.
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Professional Time Wasting on the Web
Very cool slide show of the restoration of Greek Vases
Interesting video on the Cohokia Mounds Site in Illinois
A video installation in downtown Lubbock TX.
Movie of the new Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Tories seek museum content: Want list of all exhibits that refer to federal government