Letter from the Director
In this edition of NSM Currents, we explore theme 5 of the Culture Action Plan - Excellence in Stewardship. It is a theme that is central to the work of museums. Museums have been entrusted with stories, specimens and artifacts which reflect Nova Scotia's cultural and natural heritage. In this role we have a responsibility not only for the management and care of objects in our collections, but also to ensure that our museum objects reflect Nova Scotia's diverse stories.
This stewardship role extends beyond our responsibility for collections. It includes the management and preservation of our heritage buildings, our maintenance of trail networks and outdoor spaces, and our efforts to showcase stories in a variety of ways.
In the last year we have seen important work that advances our stewardship mandate. Many sites began major maintenance and infrastructure projects. We saw a renewed focus on our trails and outdoor spaces and efforts to replace our MIMS database with a new collections management system are underway. These activities support our responsibilities as stewards and are foundational to our commitment to stewardship in the future.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed stories about their inspirational work for this issue of Currents. We always welcome suggestions for story ideas. As we plan our work for the 2021/22 year, we look forward to sharing more of the wonderful work being done across the NSM!
Laura Bennett, Director, Nova Scotia Museum
Culture Action Plan Update - Theme 5: Excellence in Cultural Stewardship
Maintenance at Museums and Heritage Houses
In 2020, major maintenance and infrastructure projects were undertaken at museums and heritage houses across Nova Scotia. Fortunately, several of our museum sites were recipients of infrastructure stimulus money. Sites like Shand House, Le Village Acadien, and Wile Carding Mill are focussing on repairs to their buildings and grounds. Lawrence House, Museum of Industry, Uniacke Estate, Ross Farm, Sherbrooke Village, and Cossitt House are addressing essential repairs to roofs and foundations. In the case of Highland Village, entirely new structures are being constructed to welcome visitors. This funding has helped to address a number of deferred maintenance projects, and we thank our TIR colleagues for the quick turn around on this work.
Many Nova Scotia Museum rural sites feature networks of trails providing access to our rich cultural landscapes and natural environment. Over the years, these trails have become venues for many recreational activities and events and have led to partnerships with recreation groups. With restrictions placed on gyms and recreation centres, many have turned to the grounds and trails of NSM rural sites for cycling, hiking, dog-walking, outdoor learning, photography, getting back to nature, and maintaining physical and mental health. Municipal organizations have reached out to rural sites as spaces to hold programs and events. Disc golf, orienteering, and cyclo-cross tournaments are some examples of these successful programs. Trail and nature organizations have also contributed financial and in-kind support for trail development and maintenance at rural sites. Although the sites are closed for the season, access to some trails and grounds are provided year-round. Why not make 2021 the year to explore these remarkable trails and sites in your own backyard?
Support4Culture Interpretive Renewal Fund
Since 2014, the Support4Culture (S4C) Interpretive Renewal Fund has supported over 55 projects across our sites developing innovative ways for audiences to access our heritage - an investment of $700K made possible with funding from the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. Linked to the Interpretive Master Plan and Culture Action plan, the fund places emphasis on diversity, stewardship, and innovation. It is available for all sites to apply, encouraging a broadening of our stories to create more inclusive, human-centered interpretive experiences.
During the past year, it funded a partnership between the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic (FMA), Dalhousie University's Ocean School and the Ocean Tracking Network to develop public programming and displays on ocean preservation. Using ongoing scientific research to highlight significant challenges affecting oceans and sea life, the project also highlights recent controversies affecting Atlantic Fisheries. This is one of several projects FMA staff are working on to meet their vision of educating visitors about the Atlantic fishery and advocate for ocean preservation during a time of global change.
If you have an idea for an interpretive renewal project in the coming year, contact Christine.Sykora@novascotia.ca to start your application.
Featured Team: The Registrars
A museum isn't a museum without its collection and a collection can't exist without the hard work and dedication of its registrars. Our team of registrars research, organize and document artifacts and specimens from the moment they are accepted into the collection. They record any items that are moved, loaned, and conserved - no small feat in a collection of over 1 million objects. Our registrar team includes Lisa Bower (NSM History), Amber Laurie (MMA), Erika Wilson (MOI), Tena Elliott (Ross Farm), Vanessa Smith (NSM Archeology), Kathy Ogden (NSM Natural History), Pauline MacLean (Highland Village) and, until recently, Mary Guildford (NSM Senior Registrar) and Emma Lang (FMA).
Featured Staff: Victoria Castle
Victoria Castle is the Online Marketing Officer for the Nova Scotia Museum. Her responsibilities include curating the web content of all 28 sites, maintaining a consistently engaging social media presence for the NSM and guiding individual sites on their own social media efforts. Victoria presents the natural and cultural heritage of Nova Scotia to a huge audience of people who are unable to visit, allowing them to enjoy our stories from afar. With the arrival of COVID-19, our online presence became more important than ever and Victoria pivoted quickly to increase digital content. Using our social channels (Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook), she created an island of calm and normalcy amidst the turmoil of daily newsfeeds. With people sheltering in place and kids out of school, the online Nova Scotia Museum became a go-to for activities and information. They did scavenger hunts, learned some Gaelic, listened to the birds, cooked heritage recipes from across our family of sites, and so much more.
Fall/Winter 2020 saw some unique partnerships with NSM sites.
- Ross Farm has developed several partnerships, including:
- An educational partnership with the South Shore Regional Education Centre, Bluenose Coastal Action Group and New Ross Family Resource Centre to provide new experiential learning content - both in person and online
- A heritage skills training workshop with the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic this spring. Build a bucket, row a dory - make and do
- Providing Nexus Media with expertise in heritage construction and preservation of buildings as they shoot an episodic film series on heritage houses
- Working with Shand House to restore and replace the house's historic trim as veranda restoration takes place
- The Museum of Industry collected almost $800 and five boxes of food for the Pictou County Food Bank from the Tiny Tinsel Town exhibit during December
- They also spread some holiday cheer to the seniors at Northwood Care with an online tour of the display, made possible through coordination with Denise Taylor.
- Haliburton House & West Hants Regional Municipality renewed a partnership connecting Haliburton's site trail with the municipality's larger network. Offerings were expanded during COVID to create an outdoor venue for recreational programs for the community, including active aging, yoga, and guided hikes.
- The Fundy Geological Museum discovered a fossil trackway and have been working with researchers from Acadia and Mount Allison Universities during its analysis
- MNH interpreter Alexandra Hernould and Bronwynne Conrad-Martin of the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park have joined forces to create online content for the popular children's program Wee Wild Ones
Who to Grab Coffee With
Museum staff always have great stories. If you have a chance, grab a (virtual) coffee with these folks to find out more about what they have been doing.
- Though not a staff member of NSM, let's welcome John Cormier to his new role as Coordinator of Special Places - an important position that strongly relates to our work
- Ross Farm Museum's maintenance and construction crew, Darren, Wade, Stephen and Cameron have been hard at work re-roofing, building, painting, gravelling, fencing at the farm
- Interpretation staff at MNH, MOI, MMA, & Fundy Geological have continued to deliver school programs online during COVID-19. Through this new challenge they have found success and learned valuable lessons.
- Museum of Natural History's Jeff Gray has been busy envisioning the next show at MNH. The exhibit, entitled ""WonderFULL"", looks to create engaging, interactive displays that employ the power of social media to promote and educate about our collection.
Raise a Glass!
Congratulations are extended to:
- Museum of Industry's Jamie Livingstone on receiving a CCH Pin
- Museum of Natural History's Mary MacDonald on receiving a CCH Pin
- Retirement - Mary Guildford, Senior Registrar for the Nova Scotia Museum
- Retirement - Cameron Broome after 10 years on Ross Farm's Board of Trustees and another 10 years on site with the oxen
- Retirement - Highland Village's Sadie MacDonald, gift shop/visitor services supervisor
- Amy Coleman on her redeployment to Summer St. as Project Support for Accessibility
- Service milestones at Highland Village
- Animator Beth MacNeil - 35 years
- Groundskeeper David MacKenzie - 20 years
- Former Ross Farm executive director, Lisa Wolfe, received an Award of Distinguished Service from the Canadian Museums Association
Does your NSM site have a staff announcement? Won an award? Let us know so we can include it in the next edition of NSM Currents. NovaScotiaMuseum@novascotia.ca
First Glimpse at a New Acquisition
2020.5.1 - "Topsy-Turvy" Doll
These two images are of a single doll, conjoined at the waist and bearing two heads, with one half featuring a black child and the other half a white child. Two dolls in one, and yet it can only involve playing with one side at a time. Its exact origins and purpose are unknown; however, it is believed they originated in the nurseries of southern American plantations. By the mid-1900s, they were being mass manufactured like this example (ca. 1910s - 1930.) The racial symbolism of this doll is debated by social historians, who theorized they were created by black wet nurses as a reflection of the division of caregiving they supplied, caring for white children during the day and their own at night. The design changed over the decades and for some they have become a symbol of resistance, secrecy, and revolution.
Digging Deeper: Archaeology at the Museum of Industry
The Museum of Industry sits on top of a treasure trove. The museum was built on the same site as an early 19th century industrial complex. The General Mining Association opened their foundry and metal working shop in 1827, an important part of the coal mining effort in the area. Part of the foundry complex has been uncovered, while much of the site remains buried. During 2019, the public was invited to help with the excavation of the foundry in the search for artifacts. In the fall of 2020 researchers also employed ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to search for hidden foundations of other buildings. GPR provides archaeologists with a 3D perspective of the features underground, allowing them to search different depths and find patterns. The effort ended up providing valuable data, locating new areas to be excavated in the future and providing more opportunity for public outreach.
Image Courtesy of . . .
Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse is one of several sites that share the story of Nova Scotia's rich cultural heritage. Through immersive, hands-on activities and its idyllic natural surroundings, visitors are presented with a way of life that would have been commonplace to Acadian settlers who lived in Nova Scotia during the 18th century. Maintaining the culture and traditions of the Acadian people, the staff of Le Village can be found engaging in all sorts of heritage activities. They might be cooking, baking, smithing, knitting, or making gill nets. In the case of this photo by Christian Laforce, we see Blake d'Entremont hard at work deboning salt fish, a staple food of the early Acadians.
Hot off the Press
The museum is always finding new ways to share its information beyond exhibits and programs, such as these new resources.
- Curator of Archaeology, Katie Cottreau-Robins contributed a paper entitled "Geochemical Provenance of Copper in Precontact Artifacts from the Maritimes Basin, Eastern Canada: Determining Source Using Laser Ablation ICP-MS" to the upcoming volume, The Far Northeast 3000 BP to Contact. The volume is currently under publisher review and will be released later this year.
- Darrell Burke, Manager of Balmoral Grist Mill and Sutherland Steam Mill released the following:
Every edition of NSM Currents will highlight a new or remind us of one existing NSM policy, procedure, or strategy.
- As the Nova Scotia Museum gets closer to implementing its new collections management system, collections staff have also been working on a review of our Collection Management Policy. By providing consistent standards relating to the procurement, organization, and use of specimens and artifacts, the policy is an essential guiding document for the continued preservation of the museum collection.
From the Director's Desk
Remember These Resources:
- "In today's uncertain times, museums can act as an anchor in the storm." This MuseumNext article outlines why we need museums more than ever, following what has been a very challenging year. Many of you will see reflections of the important work you are doing in your communities and the many roles museums play.
Next Time in NSM Currents:
- Exploring Culture Action Plan Theme 6: Drive Awareness and Economic Growth of the Culture Sector
- Do you have an idea you think should be included in NSM Currents? Email NovaScotiaMuseum@novascotia.ca
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