Highlights from the MAAM Conference

Posted on November 4th, 2011 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink

Earlier this month I attended the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) conference here inBaltimore. I love MAAM because it’s a small conference but there are sessions for all sized-museums. Since it’s a regional conference I am connecting to colleagues who likely know my institution, know local vendors, and who I can call on in an emergency.

Sunday evening there was an opening reception at theSportsLegendsMuseum. In addition to catching up with Lauren Silberman& 2011 summer intern Carrie Coviello, the highlight of the evening was going into the collections vault and holding (with gloves of course!) Babe Ruth’s bat from 1927.

Monday morning I was on the panel for the “Registration in the Real World” session with Heather Kajic (US Holocaust Memorial Museum), Rosie Cook (Chemical Heritage Foundation) and Elizabeth Alberding (The Kelly Collecion of American Illustration). We spoke about what it was like to be a registrar in a large, mid-sized, and small museum, or to work for a private collector. Our panel represented the diversity in the title “registrar” and also focused on the fact that rarely is collections work done in the ideal conditions.

My presentation emphasized the four large archival collections that the JMM acquired since 2009 from Baltimore Hebrew University, National Council of Jewish Women, American Jewish Congress and YeshivatRambam. Planning in advance and utilizing interns was essential for organizing BHU. With that experience as a foundation we were able to bring in YR under less than ideal time constraints. Of course I also addressed the impact on our storage space and what it means for the future of our collections.

In the afternoon I attended “Taking your Museum to the Next Level with MAP & CAP. Former JMM Education & Program Coordinator Lauren Silberman was the moderator. The Museum Assessment Program and Conservation Assessment Programs are designed to strengthen museums, to help them organize their institution and reach higher potential. Since the JMM just completed the Self-Study portion of AAM Re-accreditation, I could empathize with those who have just gone through the process: it is a lot of work to gather everything together, to review and revise policies, to lift the corner of the carpet and see exactly what we’ve been ignoring or overlooking. As a MAP assessor myself (yet to be assigned) I gained a lot from John Simmonds, who spoke about the assessing process, expectations on both sides, and the time commitment involved. The guidelines provided should help the assessor provide constructive feedback rather than be perceived as a Museum Insultant.

Later that afternoon in the expo hall I was talking to two women who were raving about the session they had attended, “Taking Tips from the MySpace Generation: Photos, Photos, Photos.” They were particularly impressed with the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s organization and use of photographs—and how easy it was for our entire staff to find them. Kudos to Rachel Kassman, Elena Rosemond-Hoerr & Jennifer Vess on their presentation.

Mona Lisa made out of JellyBelly brand jelly beans was on display in the expo hall.

Tuesday’s sessions were also excellent. “Strategizing Museum Internships to Meet (and Manage) Everyone’s Expectations” emphasized the need for strong organization, a work plan with some variation, and communication between interns and their supervisors (or a neutral intern supervisor). One thing that I had nearly forgotten was that students pay for their internship credits, (and credits are not cheap) so their internship should be as challenging as a 3 credit classroom class! I came away from this session with some good ideas for supervisor training, brown-bag lunches, as well as the sense that the JMM internship program is pretty well on-track.

JMM interns

“Collection Protection: Keeping your Collections and Facilities Safe from Kids, Caterers and Chaos” was the final session I attended. The two big lessons I learned: have policies that spell out all of the rules—and review your policies in person with each rental, caterer, florist etc., and kindly enforce the rules as you monitor your events.

Tuesday afternoon Elizabeth Alberding, Rosie Cook & I (the RC-MAAM board) came to the JMM to set up for the White Gloves Gang dinner. At 7 PM 32 people gathered in our lobby to visit Voices of Lombard Street, eat, and learn about the important service projects completed by the WGG. Avi Decter spoke about the impact that the WGG has on smaller museums and how this crew gives gangsters a good name. The WGG allows registrars and collections-y people to help smaller museums tackle projects that they couldn’t complete on their own. It also gives students chance to apply classroom knowledge to real life settings.

Thanks to Crozier, Ateleir, MAAM, and AAM Registrar’s Committee for sponsoring dinner. Thanks to Gaylord, Hollinger/Metal Edge, and University Products for donating the museum supplies, and thanks to Ed Noonan/VIP transport for bringing the supplies to us. Thank you to the Fells Point Preservation Society, Historical Society of Baltimore County, Jewish Museum of Maryland, Lovely Lane Archives and Museum,NationalElectronicsMuseum, andSportsLegendsMuseumfor hosting the White Gloves Gang. And of course, thank you to all of the White Gloves Gang volunteers.

Tomasina& Ashley number photographs

Alvania types up boxlists

Ashley cleans a pot for “Chosen Food”

Check out our blog for guest posts from other WGG members!

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Guest Post: White Gloves Gang at Sports Legends!

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by

A blog post by Jennifer Skiba.

At the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, our White Glove “Posse” focused on rehousing and entering object information into PastPerfect on a collection of photographic negatives donated by the family of Leroy Merriken, a former photographer of the Baltimore Orioles.  Rosie assigned accession numbers to the two boxes of negatives and created a worksheet for easy input into PastPerfect;  Ellie and Allison cleaned, rehoused, and described the negatives; and I created object records in PastPerfect based on Ellie and Allison’s worksheet descriptions.  – Jennifer Skiba

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Greg Schwalenberg shows the White Glove Gang some objects from the collection. In photo: Rosie Cook, Allison Schoerr, Ellie Hoeger

Greg demonstrates how heavy Babe Ruth's bat actually is. In photo: Allison Schoerr, Ellie Hoeger

Ellie Hoeger poses with Babe Ruth's bat.

Screenshot of data fields entered in PastPerfect by Jennifer Skiba.

Example of the collections worksheet that Rosie Cook and Greg Schwalenberg developed to help with numbering the negatives and easily inputting that data into PastPerfect.

Greg, Rosie and Allison examine a film negative.

Allison (left) and Ellie (right) cleaning the film negatives before rehousing them.

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Guest Post: White Glove Gang Make Triumphant Return to Fells Point

Posted on October 24th, 2011 by

A blog post by Jen Swisko, Fire Museum of Maryland.

On Wednesday October 12, 2011 the White Gloves Gang once again visited the Fells Point Preservation Society (FPPS) at1726 Thames Street,Baltimore.  No stranger to the FPPS, the Gang made its first visit back in 2005.  For a moment now let us go back in time to when Destiny’s Child was still together, Batman Begins was playing at the box office and the FPPS had just called upon the White Gloves Gang to help them move their new collection. Some might call them unrepentant hoarders, but over the course of five generations the Dashiel’s had amassed a huge collection of Americana and this move was the culmination of the efforts of Sisters Mary and Eleanor Dashiel to have their family’s items turned into a maritime museum.

The Dashiel Family Collection was immense but not exactly organized.   Taking over the Sisters’ home it was a monumental undertaking to sort and move the objects.  In a feat worthy of its own season of clean house the FPPS, with help from the Gang, eventually cleared the house.

We pick up our story again in August of 2011 with Hurricane Irene heading towardsBaltimore.  Fearful of a storm surge a group of local students from UMBC was called out to help carry the FPPS archives out of the basement and to safety on the upper levels of the museum.  Then with the storm past and the archives left in disarray the White Gloves Gang was called on to help again.

The Gang tackled two problems that day.  First, the re-organization of the archives.  Moving everything so that it was accessible, re-labeling the shelves and sorting the archives.  By the end of the day the Gang had re-arranged the archives and created an inventory list of all of the shelves.

Chris, Jenn, Jen and Robin organizing the archives

…Meanwhile in another part of the museum the rest of the Gang was hard at work re-boxing part of the museum’s textile collections which had been damaged in their brisk move from the basement.  They photographed, recorded and boxed most of the textiles, providing the FPPS with an inventory list in the process.

Heather, Motrja and Sandra

In closing the White Gloves Gang would like to express appreciation to the Fells Point Preservation Society (FPPS) for letting us play with their collections, we had a blast and hope to see you again soon!

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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