Over the past 8 months, I have been completing a Museum Management and Curatorship (MMC) post-grad at Fleming College. The MMC program is an intensive, fast-paced, hands-on immersion experience that provides applied training for students seeking careers in the museum, gallery or heritage sectors.
And boy, have the last 8 months been busy! I thought I’d do a wrap-up by taking a brief look at all the events, projects and other things I’ve been up to this year.
During our first term, we got to work on some really cool hands-on projects. In October, our class headed down to Scugog Shores Museum, where we undertook a collections cleaning and inventory project for the artifacts on display at their living history site. We also got to work with community partner the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters by developing policies for the OFAH Heritage Centre. My group wrote a new conservation policy for them, highlighting some of the challenges of having natural history and taxidermy collections.
In December, our class curated individual mini-exhibits, centred around artifacts from the Peterborough Museum and Archives’ collection. To find out more about our mini exhibit projects, check out an earlier blog post here.
I also attended some great events in first term, both for professional development, and to meet some fabulous people while learning more about my chosen field. Here are a few:
Active History Conference
The New Direction in Active History Conference was held at Huron University College over October 2-4. I volunteered at the conference, helping with the registration table and setting up the Poster Session. ActiveHistory.ca is a website that connects the work of historians with the wider public. A NCPH mini-con, the conference offered the opportunity for public historians to share their research and projects with one another.
Ontario Museums Association Conference
I attended the Ontario Museum Association’s Conference, hosted in Windsor from November 4 to 6. At this conference, I was able to listen in on new trends and projects in the Museum world. My favourite sessions fell on the second day of the conference. Since I love collections management, I really enjoyed the session on storage reorganization, and the RE-ORG initiative. My other favourite session was “Take Control of Your Career,” hosted by Christine Moreland and Jenna Rose. They gave really good advice on branding yourself, and gave good practical tips about different career approaches, like consulting.
I can’t wait to attend next year’s conference, being held in Peel!
YDAMA Collections Management Workshop
In late November, I attended a collections management workshop hosted by the York-Durham Association of Museum & Archives. It was held at the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum in Gormley, ON. The workshop had a number of great speakers present, including Tom Reitz from Waterloo Region Museum, John Summers from Halton, Sarah Ferencz from the Whitby Public Library and Alex Avdichuk from the City of Toronto. Topics discussed included institutional overlap in collections, collection development plans, and deaccessioning.
We tackled a lot of interesting projects in our second term. Our first major collections management project was to create a Collections Development Plan for the Peterborough Museum & Archives. This involved choosing a component of the collection (I did ship models!), researching what an ideal collection would be, analyzing the existing collection, and making recommendations for the future. We also had an amazing opportunity to partner with the Nova Scotia Museum Association to work on their Nova Muse project. Nova Muse is the association’s new collective access database that helps standardize how museums across the province store information about their collections. Our class was able to log in remotely to clean and enrich the data for various Nova Scotia museums.
We also did some amazing community engagement events. On February 21st, we headed down to George St. United Church in Peterborough to chat with members of the congregation and collect oral histories about their memories of the church and their favourite buildings and architecture in Peterborough. These oral histories were transcribed and some were later including in our exhibit “Building Identity: Discovering Peterborough’s History.”
We also hosted a fun Murder Mystery program in April at the museum called “Who Killed the Curator: A Murder Mystery at the PMA.” We had a great turn out, and the detectives from the public came together to solve the crime! Spoiler alert: It was the donor. But don’t fret – no actual curators were harmed in the making of the event.
The Fleming program is great at providing its students with professional development opportunities. In March we completed a webinar on Risk Management, hosted by the Canadian Conservation Institute. The webinar focused on risk-based decision making for museums, galleries, archives & historic houses. Later in April, we got to visit Research Casting International in Trenton. RCI mounts and casts fossils for museums all over the world. To see their work in person was honestly breath taking. So many dinosaurs!
Outside of school, I’ve had lots of other great stuff going on! In addition to my regular schoolwork at Fleming, I took an extra course online from the University of Leicester. It was a MOOC called “Behind the Scenes at the 21st Century museum.” I blogged about it earlier here. In February, I attended the London Heritage Fair, and completed an ACO NextGen job shadow in the curatorial department of Guelph Civic Museum. In March the ACO London Region branch hosted a NextGen history & heritage event at Grosvenor Lodge, for the younger heritage professionals in London area. Also in March, the Emerging Museum Professional Advisory Council (EMPAC) from the Ontario Museum Association (OMA) reached out to the wider emerging museum professional community to get input on the issues that are important in our field right now, and where the group should go in the future. I participated in one of the web sessions, and we had a great discussion, with topics including mentorships, professional development and having regional representatives. I’m excited to see where #GOEMP goes next!
In March I also found out I was chosen to be the newest member of London’s Historic Sites Committee, based out of the London Public Library Board. The Historic Sites Committee identifies and marks historic buildings, places and people of local significance. Check them out here. I’m really excited to join this team and help teach Londoners about their city’s history!
My year at Fleming wrapped up with the installation and opening of our class’s exhibit “Building Identity: Discovering Peterborough’s Architecture.” Every exhibit starts with a big idea, and ours was basically that Peterborough’s architecture reflected the area’s changing identities over time. And our exhibit sought to tell this story. The city grew and was shaped by industry. Once developed as a town, prominent architects designed buildings to suit personal motivations and ideals. Under changing ideals of progress after WWII, many heritage buildings were lost. Now, with a new appreciation for preservation, heritage buildings are increasingly being adapted, reused and saved.
I wrote the script (aka the panels, the object labels, the photo credits, and any other words you can think of) for the Styles & Architects section of the exhibit. Everyone joined together for the actual exhibit installation. While completing an entire exhibit was a lot of hard work, it was great to see it all come together. We were even featured in the Peterborough Examiner! We had a soft launch on April 3, and had the formal opening and reception on April 21st. The exhibit will be on display at the Peterborough Museum & Archive until June 19th.
Looking forwards in the future: starting an internship at The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, and an amazing time being back in my hometown of London!