Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hands across the Borders

Last night I attended a very special event at the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia. The evening began with greetings and song and the guest speaker was John Franklin of the recently established National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC. Mr Franklin was here visiting and speaking in advance of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference which is scheduled to take place in Nova Scotia, September 2011.
John Franklin of the Smithsonian Institution
He came with strong messages about the importance of developing relationships between institutions and countries in preserving and expressing the history and culture of the African American experience. He spoke of the importance of telling the whole story and facing raw emotion as the way to express the story in its entirety is found. He also spoke of the important role mediation will play in the process. The story is complex with an intricate interweaving of cultures, countries and economies over a long period of time. Important parts of the story are inextricably linked with the history of Nova Scotia and it is these links and the desire of the developing museum to forge relationships with other institutions engaged in African American heritage that specifically brought him to the province. In February no less.....
The five acre site in the heart of Washington on The Mall and the impressive building designed to house the museum speaks to the American resolve to tell the story with respect, resolution and renewal. It will be a wonderful thing to watch unfold.
The evening closed with gifts exchanged, blessings given and food shared.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Power of Tourism

This week I attended my first TIANS conference and was suitably impressed.
The conference was titled The Power of Tourism and featured some very dynamic sessions
particularly in relation to marketing, partnering and the internet.

Some favourite quotes from some favourite speakers:

Simplify, simplify, simplify - Howard Putnam
Harness collective resources, work smarter, & be more productive - Percy Paris
Experiential products....learn something, by doing something, with someone who lives here - John Somers
Brand is a company's DNA....its reputation - Phil Otto
Is social media a fad? No, its the new base of communication - William Red Dog Martin

John Somers explains Tourism Plan 2011
Tourism Plan 2011 was unveiled by Tourism Division Executive Director, John Somers.
A key goal for 2011, which directly impacts heritage organisations, is the commitment to work to increase percentage of revenues from tourism "Recreation". Currently, tourism revenues see only 5% coming from recreation related expenditures. Activities which comprise recreation also comprise a large portion of people's reasons for travelling in Nova Scotia. Recreation = Museums. Tourism has made the commitment to increase the 5% revenue by 20% over the forthcoming year and this means the potential for new partnerships with heritage organisations. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Parrsboro Rocks

Congratulations to the staff of the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro for the highly successful reopening of their main exhibit area.  The museum was under wraps for about a year while the old main exhibit was dismantled and a whole new realm of discovery created to explore, involve and educate on the fasinating geology of the Fundy region.
Conservator, Chris Lavergne checks out the exhibits.
I attended the opening day festivities with many colleagues form the museum world on hand plus local dignitaries and residents. There was a great buzz to the event with much exploring and investigating of the gallery. The new exhibits have a family focus featuring many hands on activities to engage young visitors. Congrats to Ken Adams and staff and their Heritage Division colleagues for a job well done. Great to see some exhibit renewal happening in the provincial museums. Next up the Museum of Natural History main exhibit area.

On my way back I stopped at the Glooscap Heritage Centre near Millbrook and visited with staff.  This is a new institution on the provincial heritage scene located just off the highway outside Truro. It is easily found by going towards the giant figure of Glooscap on the grounds. The Centre is continuing to evolve and exapnsion plans include a second building to improve their events hosting capacity. On the heritage front, they are continually developing their programming and aside from workshops teaching Mi'kmaq skills have schools programming available aswell. Current plans include commemorative celebration in honour of Mi'kmaq veterans and the installation of a wall of honour. A project begun this past summer to landscape using plants native to the area will also contribute interpretation opportunities for explaining Mi'kmaq traditional land use.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Busman's Holiday in Wales

Following several seriously busy days at work, I flew off to Wales for two weeks vacation to visit family, friends and, of course, heritage sites. I thought I'd share some photos taken at various sites around Wales I visited and which have personal connections for me.

Saint Elly Church, Llanelly.
Church of Saint Elly, just outside the village of Gilwern is where I was christened and where several members of my family are buried. Its a very atmospheric spot, especially on a cold windy fall day. The church is 12th century and is surrounded by 700 year old yews and extensive grave sites. I met an elderly couple in the churchyard who turned out to be the parents of  a school day friend of mine. Small world.

Inner courtyard at Tretower Court
Restored & refurbished kitchen at Tretower Court. 
Tretower Court and Castle was my favourite site to visit as a child.  I loved visiting the site every opportunity I got - probably explains alot about my choices in career options.... The site is under the care of CADW, and has recently undergone major restoration, both inside and out. The site was the seat of the Vaughan Family, Norman aristocrats, and was partially occupied until the 1920's.

Looking up inside the castle tower.
The castle provides the name for the local community, three towers, and was originally a series of towers built within each other. Very typical fortification for this part of the border country  during the Norman period.

Another Norman fortification I visited was Cardiff Castle, site of the Great British Cheese Festival. Marvellous stuff. The keep pictured here was the original part of the much larger fortification built around it over many generations. Very impressive place I have also visited many times over the years. First time for the cheese festival though....

Cardiff castle keep flying the Welsh flag. 

In south west Wales I went to see Arthur's Seat, a neolithic chamber tomb, for the first time. Its situated in a beautiful location to which my photo does not do justice. 2,000 years old and counting.... Numerous summer holidays were spent in this part of Wales, in caravans, with cousins, in the rain.....

Looking through the remains of the door posts at the Church of Saint Micheal the Archangel.
Last, but definitely not least, I climbed the Skirrid Mountain, called the holy mountain for the legend it split at the time of Christ's death. During the middle ages, a church at the summit was dedicated to Saint Micheal, the Archangel and was the site of pilgrimage on Michealmas day. Little remains of the church now but it remains a compelling site with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. The church was built within the remains of a much earlier iron age fortification site.

Fall Days

The Fall has been a busy time so far at ANSM. We have the new QR code project underway, plans move ahead for the database renewal project, the board has had serious discussion about plans for the future, we have submitted applications for funding which follow through on strategic plans to develop a museological core curriculum and advisory service and much more.
The dining room table arrayed with SDI applications looked rather like an altar!

Between administrative tasks are peppered visits to sites, plus attending and participating in community events. The SDI grant application review is an important task in late August and I prefer to place myself in seclusion for a day of serious concentration.

Harvest table at the Urban Farm Museum
I helped out at the Urban Farm Museum of Spryfield's annual Harvest Fair in mid-September. The event was well attended by local residents and featured delicious seasonal food cooked following the museum's recipe book plus sales of veggies grown at the farm. Katimavik sent a group of enthusiastic volunteers who soon had the children happily busy playing traditional outdoor games.

The Halifax Citadel, National Historic Site played host to this year's Atlantic Film Festival opening gala. I went with Paul Collins of CMAP to see how the site looked all decked out as Hollywood of Atlantic Canada. Red flood lights, pavilion tents, candle lit walkways and regimental highlanders all added to the dramatic setting. Great stuff and an interesting combination of contemporary event matched with historic setting.

Looking up the refurbished staircase from the basement level.
Last night, I went to take a look at the recently refurbished Government House while attending a talk by Clary Croft on folklore of Nova Scotia. Lt. Governor Mayann E. Francis is hosting a series of talks on a variety of subjects at the house over the course of the fall season. The house looks really fabulous and is much better prepared to fill its capacity as a venue for large scale public events. Her Honor referred to the house as the "ceremonial home of all Nova Scotians" in her opening remarks and the building has been refurbished with that role firmly in mind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Familiar Faces

Richard, Karin, Paul & Anita at one of Richard's favorite  watering holes
Yesterday Karin and I joined Paul Collins to meet with Richard Cloutier and his wife who are visiting Nova Scotia for family celebrations. It is important to me that we maintain the connections and relationships that have formed the organisation over the years and it was grand to see Richard and reminisce about the early years of the Passage Project and catch up on each others news. Thanks to Richard for organising the supper date. We also quizzed his corporate memory but thats a tale for Karen to tell in her blog...

We met with another familiar face from the ANSM/FNSH past recently. Susan Charles is now the Director of the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft & Design (NSCCD) located just across the road from the Cultural Federations offices. Each year the NSCCD sponsors an exhibition of original work for display in the Mary E. Black Gallery complete with curator and catalogue. The proposed concept for next year (2011) is "Inspired", original works inspired by original artifacts from museum collections. An ideal opportunity for collaboration between artisans and museums. Susan wondered if ANSM could help make the connection between the two communities and we are happy participate. Details are not finalised as yet but we will be sure to get notice out when the time is right. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Under wraps

Multitasking is, well,  its pretty much the name of the game. Time is always at a premium so finding ways to include as many activities as possible within a limited time frame and budget is key. When I began as Managing Director, the Board were clear they wanted me to spend as much time as possible at members sites. Knowing whats going on in the museums of province is important for both the Association and myself and the best way to do this is by visiting in person.
So I get creative and combine site visits with meetings and careful figuring of mileage and such. A favourite part of the job for certain.
Christine and the Firefly at Shearwater Aviation Museum
A recent meeting with new ANSM Treasurer, Christine Hines of Shearwater Aviation Museum gave me an opportunity for another sneak peak at the Fairey Firefly they hope to soon return to the air in active flight. Tremendous progress since I last saw it a year ago and I'm looking forward to seeing it in flight.

Christine and I have developed a practice of meeting bi-weekly to make sure she is on top of all things financial and we move forward  in planning for operational policies and proceedures related to finance. There's still lots to do, but we continue to work away and progress is surely being made.

Another recent site visit was to Chester (enroute to a weekend visit with friends) an opportunity to see and hear about recent activities of the Chester Historical Society. Definitely a group on the move, they have several large scale projects in hand or just completed. The Society's base is currently in the old Chester Railway Station which they share with the local area VIC. A CAP site managed by the Society is also housed there as well as the Society's research resources and changing art exhibitions.
A small but mighty crew

Lordly House, a fine Georgian property with a long history with the town, is under going major stabilization and restoration work . The Society is very engaged in fundraising for the restoration of the fabric of the building and is including careful plans for how they will use it as their showcase and exhibition space when the doors reopen. They have strong municipal government support which is key for community participation.

Lordly House "underwraps"