Uniting to safeguard the Atlantic’s cultural property
24 February 2016
TRURO. Six cultural institutions from across the Atlantic region were selected by the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) to be part of a network of museums who, over one year, are working collaboratively to improve their collection storage areas: Nova Scotia Museum in Halifax NS, Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village in Iona NS, Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen (Université de Moncton) in Moncton NB, Musée Acadien (Université de Moncton) in Moncton NB, New Brunswick Museum in St. John NB, and PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation in Charlottetown PEI.
Next week, from 1-4 March, these museums will join forces to reorganize a storage area at the Colchester Historeum in Truro, Nova Scotia. This hands-on experience, made possible thanks to funding received from the Museums Assistance Program (MAP), will then be applied in their own institutions over the next 6 months. Following the workshop, a conference entitled “RE-ORG Atlantic: Adventures in Storage Reorganization” is being held at the Colchester Historeum in Truro on March 4th, where delegates from around Canada and abroad will exchange best practice in this area.
The workshop and conference in Truro is part of a wider CCI program entitled “RE-ORG Canada”, which aims to build professional and institutional capacity in storage reorganization by encouraging the creation of RE-ORG networks across Canada. Having gone through the process first-hand, museums in these regional networks will be able to advise other museums on how to improve their own storage conditions.
When storage is disorganized, museum collections are at higher risk of damage and loss, and it is all the more challenging to make them accessible to the public. Typically, about 95% of museum objects are housed in storage, so this is a significant problem for many Atlantic-based museums.
“It is no secret that most museums struggle with providing adequate storage conditions – not only in Canada but all over the world… as much as two thirds of museums according to recent international surveys,” says Simon Lambert, Preservation Development Advisor for CCI and coordinator of the event, “…and it is a significant problem because most museums are small- to medium-sized organizations with limited resources; it’s the more crucial to provide tools that are adapted for their specific reality by maximizing existing space, equipment and human resources.”
“The Association of Nova Scotia Museums (ANSM) is happy to be a partner in this initiative that provides practical solutions for museums in our region while also contributing to the knowledge and best practice of the international museum community,” says Anita Price, Executive Director of the ANSM.
The six selected Atlantic-based museums will be using a new method called “RE-ORG,” which was designed by ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) with the support of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a step-by-step tool to help smaller museums tackle the reorganization of museum storage areas for better access, visibility and space efficiency. The method also ensures that adequate equipment and storage furniture is available, that the space is functional, and that all the necessary procedures are in place (available free online: http: www.re-org.info).
The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) is a Special Operating Agency within the Department of Canadian Heritage, founded in 1972. Through its expertise in conservation science, treatment and preventive conservation, CCI’s mission is to support heritage institutions and professionals in preserving Canada’s heritage collections so they can be accessed by current and future generations. CCI’s primary clients include approximately 2,000 heritage institutions in Canada such as museums, archives, libraries, and historic sites, as well as Canadian government departments and agencies with heritage collections.
The Museums Assistance Program (MAP) supports heritage institutions and workers in the preservation and presentation of heritage collections. MAP provides financial assistance to Canadian museums and related institutions for activities that facilitate Canadians’ access to our heritage, foster the preservation of Canada’s cultural heritage, including the preservation of representative collections of Aboriginal cultural heritage, and foster professional knowledge, skills and practices related to key museum functions.
The Association of Nova Scotia Museums (ANSM). Working in partnership with museums, communities and supporters, the mandate of the Association of Nova Scotia Museums is to encourage the development of professional best practices in Nova Scotia’s museums, educate Nova Scotians about the value of museums and Nova Scotian stories, and act as a champion on behalf of museums in Nova Scotia.
ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) is an intergovernmental organisation created by UNESCO in 1956 and established in Rome, Italy, in 1959. It is concerned with the conservation of both movable and immovable heritage all around the world. As of today ICCROM has 132 Member States. ICCROM aims at improving the quality of conservation as well as raising awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage. ICCROM contributes to preserving cultural heritage in the world today and for the future through five main areas of activity: training, information, research, co-operation and advocacy.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the heir of the League of Nations’ International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. UNESCO has 195 member states and nine associate members. Most of its field offices are “cluster” offices covering three or more countries; there are also national and regional offices.
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