Traveling Exhibits
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.
In This Issue

Pondering Traveling Exhibits at a Small Museum
Featured Course
April 2019 Courses
May 2019 Courses
Conferences and Meetings
Pondering Traveling Exhibits at a Small Museum

By Helen Alten
 
"I want metal walls." My exhibit staff person was putting together an exhibit on the
Aerial view of Vanderbilt Reef in the Lynn Canal. The wreck of the  Princess Sophia lies just below the surface near the Reef.
 
sinking of the Princess Sophia, created by the Vancouver Maritime Museum and loaned by the Alaska State Museum. The exhibit consists of four touch screen kiosks and freestanding, cross-shaped walls that hold interpretive panels. The interpretive panels were actually vinyl banners with magnet strips on the back. They easily installed on the metal panels that made up the cross-shaped walls. These walls were made from two sheets of wood framed metal, slotted in the center, one with a cut from the bottom to half way up the width of the panel, the other with a cut from the top to half way down the width of the panel. Slotted together they formed an X and when the legs are screwed on they create eight metal walls where interpretive banners attached.
 
"We could do this easily," muttered my technology expert, as he helped install the touch screen kiosks. He started calculating the cost of a touch screen and a micro-computer. "I think this would only cost a few hundred dollars," he continued muttering. I had never heard of a microcomputer. "You don't need a full computer," he explained to me, "because you are only running one thing." These little computers were about five inches square and 2 inches thick. He pointed out that the biggest cost was probably the black metal cabinet that housed the screen, microcomputer, small fan and plug-in strip. One Bluetooth keyboard is used to turn off each computer. Once the computers are turned on and the slide show or program activated by tapping twice on its image, then a visitor can't see the computer home screen. We have to use the keyboard to escape from the program and return to the main Windows screen and shut down the computer.
 
For each of my staff, installing the traveling exhibit gave them "Ah ha!" moments. Adding technology to our small museum's gallery was something on my wish list. However, none of us had quite known how to make it a reality. Now it seems possible.
 
Sticking labels on walls challenges a museum - we have used everything from screws, nails, and pins to double-sided foam tape (makes a mess of walls) to Command Strips. We have a nice oversized Epson printer, courtesy of a grant. For our most recent in-house exhibits, we print large graphic panels on sticky back vinyl, making oversized repositionable stickers that peel off the wall without causing damage. However, they fall off of some walls (we aren't sure why). We have resorted to supporting those upper corners with pins. We hadn't thought about using metallic paint on our walls, printing vinyl posters and sticking magnetic strips on the back of them.
 
Borrowing exhibits from other museums helps a small museum's staff learn new exhibit tricks and ideas. I had noticed this phenomenon before, when my staff installed one of the Smithsonian's traveling exhibits in our gallery. My staff paid close attention to exhibit mounts and vitrines, learning a lot about professional presentation. From that day forward, we started creating brass, Plexiglas, and foam mounts for our own exhibits. Staff chose online classes or regional workshops to hone the skills they now realized were important to their job.
 
The Haines Sheldon Museum is a small, isolated rural Alaska museum in a town of 2400 people. About half of these people disappear during our long winters. Our goal is to be a gem - the best small museum possible. Our staff consists of local hires, many with little exposure to museums prior to working for us. We have two full-time staff and four part-time staff that equal a third full-time position. Operating costs are high in our location. Frugality is a way of life. However, we stretch our funds to bring in 2-3 exhibits annually from outside our town. Our reasons, initially, were to increase local interest in the museum and provide non-traditional learning opportunities. In five years we have seen our museum's local relevance grow - more than doubling our annual attendance of local residents.
 
The costs of borrowing an exhibit include shipping one way and a rental fee from the lender. Shipping to our area, for a small exhibit, is anywhere from $500 to $1500 (or higher). We have been lucky and had shipping donated by our local freight company for some shows. Some exhibits, such as those traveled by national or state museums, have no rental fee. A show we borrowed from a small museum in Colorado had a rental fee of $500. A state arts council grant helped pay that fee and shipping costs. Now we are budgeting and saving to borrow an exhibit with a rental fee of $15,000. The loaning institution is willing to give us a discount. It is a lot of money for us, but this is a big show that would fill our main gallery in between long-term exhibits. It would be a lot of fun, something we also consider in choosing our shows for our land-locked winter audience. Although arranging a traveling show can require time with paperwork and negotiations, in the long run, it takes less staff time than a show we generate in-house. This frees our small staff up for other priorities.
 
"Could we do this, too?" asked our bookkeeper, as she helped unpack the Sophia exhibit. She, like I, saw that this might be another revenue source for our small museum. "I think so," I replied. We have some wonderful small exhibits that would lend themselves well to small traveling shows. It is a way to get more mileage out of the research, writing and production spent on each temporary exhibit. Perhaps, with the help of Museums Alaska, we can share exhibits among the small museums in our state, helping all of us enrich our offerings.
 
Traveling exhibits are a way to increase a museum's offerings, provide inspiration and learning moments for staff, and, perhaps, be a funding resource for a small museum.
___________________
Helen Alten is the Director of the Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center in Haines, Alaska. Prior to coming to Haines she founded Northern States Conservation Center and Museum Classes. She is an objects conservator with a desire to bring about change through museums, improving our communities and the patrimony we leave to our off-spring.   
Featured Course: Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture On-line Course

If you are building a new storage facility or retrofitting an old one, this course
provides the blueprint for how to approach architects and engineers as well as redesigning your facility yourself. The course covers the philosophy of storage, the construction requirements, security, fire and water prevention, types of furniture, and how to plan for collections growth.
 
The course will start with a refresher on the agents of deterioration and environmental issues to assure that the students have a common base to begin.
 
After this introduction, topics include determining storage and defining space, architectural design considerations and issues such as lighting, security and planning. We will discuss general information about storage furniture types and storage materials, how to modify existing cabinets and information on homemade storage systems. The last section includes specific information from a variety of vendors, specifics on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), and what to consider when making a decision on a furniture type and vendor.
 
The instructor will add readings and other information depending upon the students and their individual institutional problems and concerns.
 
Join Instructor Laura Elliff Cruz for MS202 Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture starting April 1, 2019 and learn more about appropriate storage for your collections. 
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course.  
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list  
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for April Courses is March 2, 2019  
The Early Bird Discount deadline for May Courses is April 6, 2019  
April 2019 Courses
 
April 15 to 19, 2019
Instructor: Diana Komejan
Description:
As we march boldly toward the 22nd century, artifact collecting includes that most fragile of materials - plastic. Not only is it in our collections, but it is used to house our collections, too. What problems have you seen? What problems have others seen? What materials are best? What can we, as caretakers, do to minimize long-term damage? Join Diana in this mini-course for discussing care and deterioration of plastics. Bring any questions you have about plastics in your museum.
 
April 8 to 19, 2019
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description :
Self-guided brochures, exhibit labels, docent led tours, guest speakers, and audio tours are only a few of the methods available to guide visitors through an exhibit. Explore the strengths and challenges of many different methods and garner resources for further information. Learn how to determine which method works best with which exhibits and how to provide variety to enhance the visitor experience.
 
April 1 to 26, 2019
Instructor:  Laura Elliff Cruz
Description:
If you are building a new storage facility or retrofitting an old one, this course provides the blueprint for how to approach architects and engineers as well as redesigning your facility yourself. The course covers the philosophy of storage, the construction requirements, security, fire and water prevention, types of furniture, and how to plan for collections growth.
 
The course will start with a refresher on the agents of deterioration and environmental issues to assure that the students have a common base to begin.
 
After this introduction, topics include determining storage and defining space, architectural design considerations and issues such as lighting, security and planning. We will discuss general information about storage furniture types and storage materials, how to modify existing cabinets and information on homemade storage systems. The last section includes specific information from a variety of vendors, specifics on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), and what to consider when making a decision on a furniture type and vendor.
 
The instructor will add readings and other information depending upon the students and their individual institutional problems and concerns.
 
April 1 to May 10, 2019
Instructor:  Kimberly Kenney
Description:
Acquiring and holding collections impose specific legal, ethical and professional obligations. Museums must ensure proper management, preservation and use of their collections. A well-crafted collections management policy is key to collections stewardship. Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions helps participants develop policies that meet professional and legal standards for collections management. Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions teaches the practical skills and knowledge needed to write and implement such a policy. The course covers the essential components and issues a policy should address. It also highlights the role of the policy in carrying out a museum's mission and guiding stewardship decisions. Participants are expected to draft collections management policies.
 
April 1 to 26, 2019
Instructor:  Sarah Kapellusch
Description:
A collection database is a necessary tool for accurate and efficient collections management. In Collection Management Databases you will learn what characteristics distinguish one database system from another; how a database can be used to manage inventory, conservation, pest management, and other aspects of collections management; as well as how to prepare your collection and documentation for entry into a database.
 
April 1 to May 10, 2019
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
Outdoor sculpture, silver tea service, gold jewelry, axe head, wheel rim - metals are found in most museum collections and may be stored or displayed indoor or outdoors depending on the object. Learn how to identify different types of metal and their alloys. Gain an understanding of how and why metals deteriorate and methods for preventing deterioration from occurring or continuing. The pros and cons of different popular treatments will be covered along with recommendations for the least damaging approach to treatment. Care of Metals provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of metals, explaining the importance of the galvanic series and electrochemistry in care strategies. Starting with an overview of the history and function of metals and how they are made, the course will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing metals. An overview of treatments, including cleaning, used on metals and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the metal object will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.
 
May 2019 Courses
 
May 6 to 31, 2019
Instructor: Ann Coppinger
Description:
Caring for textiles demands an understanding of how and why they deteriorate. This course offers a simplified explanation of the origin and structure of textile fibers as well as the finished textile object; be it either a piece of whole cloth or a finished garment. Care of Textiles teaches students to identify fibers, fabric structures and finishes, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to various fabrics both in storage on exhibit. Topics include preparing textiles for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with textiles, and three dimensional supports.
 
May 6 to 31, 2019
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
Caring for furniture and wood artifacts demands an understanding of how and why wood deteriorates. This course offers a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of wood as well as the finished wooden object; be it either a totem pole, plow or a French polished table. Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts teaches students to identify woods, finishes and furniture styles, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to wood both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing wood artifacts for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with wood artifacts, housekeeping techniques for furniture and large objects on open display, basic repairs and three dimensional supports for storage or exhibit.
 
May 6 to 31, 2019
Instructor: Jennifer Edwards
Description:
Archives include flat paper, photographs, bound pamphlets, books, small 3-dimensional objects, and magnetic media. The Archives Management course covers an introduction to the materials found in archives and typical use of these materials including use patterns, retrieval needs, finding aids, handling and exhibition. The last half of the course details optimum storage options for archival materials. Storage includes furniture, storage techniques, standardized and specialized housing such as folders and boxes and custom-made housings.
 
May 6 to 31, 2019
Instructor: John Veverka
Description:
What makes an interpretive exhibit "interpretive"?  This course will help staff new to interpretive exhibit planning; theme and objective development, and label copy development, create truly successful exhibits that effectively communicate their messages to your visitors.
 
This course provides guidelines and tools for planning and managing interpretive exhibit projects for parks, museums, historic sites, zoos, botanical gardens and related interpretive sites for interpretive staff, managers/heads of education, charged with developing or evaluating their interpretive exhibits, or for exhibit design consultants who have had no formal training in interpretive communications.
Conferences and Meetings
 
2019
Museum Store Association, San Diego, CA
March 28-April 1, 201 9

Texas Association of Museums, El Paso, TX
April 2-5, 2019

Museums Association New York, Cooperstown, NY
April 7-9, 2019
 
American Alliance of Museums, New Orleans, LA
May 19-22, 2019
 
Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, Gillette, Wyoming
May 23-25, 2019

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Chicago, IL
May 25-31, 2019
 
Smithsonian Institution and Office of Protection Services
National Conference on Cultural Property Protection, Location TBA
June 19-21, 2019
 
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, University of Minnesota
June 27-30, 2019

Society of American Archivists, Austin, TX
July 31 - August 6, 2019
 
American Association of State and Local History, Philadelphia, PA
August 28-31, 2019
   

 
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Choctaw Casino
September 18-20, 2019
 
Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Albuquerque, NM
September 22-25, 2019
 
Association of Midwest Museums, Grand Rapids, Michigan October 2-5, 2019
 
Western Museums Association, Boise, ID October 4-7, 2019
 
Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, Hudson Valley, NY October 16-18, 2019
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, Charleston, SC
October 21-23, 2019
 
New England Museum Association, Burlington, VT
November 6-8, 2019
 
National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection
Dates and Location coming soon
 
 
 
2020
National Association for Interpretation,
Saint Augustine, FL
November 10-14, 2020

Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org .  
 
We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 
 
Have a comment or suggestion?   
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at   museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager