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


Mount Makers
Featured Courses
2020 Course List Updated
Conferences and Meetings
Mount Makers
By Tom Bennett
 
Museum people don't often talk about making mounts and installing art, but both are important activities in the business. Well thought out and produced mounts present objects in ways that make the exhibit striking and professional.

Mount makers aren't exactly curators, not quite conservators; more often we're designers and artists, we are certainly crafts persons. We install the stuff you see in galleries, museums, public spaces, homes and businesses.

We are gypsies who travel to the art and artifacts, carrying our tools and equipment with us. Since we are often visitors to the institution, our work habits must be neat and considerate, always taking care to protect the objects.

Our job is to realize the vision and wishes of the exhibit or museum designer in close association with the conservator, curator, registrar or collections manager. The choice of materials is not always ours to make so we work within parameters given and give our own advice tactfully and graciously.

When we are being asked to make those choices, we use our professional judgment to decide if an object is suitable for display; if its presentation is most effective standing out from a wall, on the deck of a display, or on a riser or pedestal. Conservators are our best friends in exhibits. They are dedicated to understanding the physical nature of objects, how and why they change over time. They are as broad in their range of knowledge as you are in your discipline and they will advise you well.

There is much for us to consider in any display. What should mounts be made of? Brass has great strength and fabricating flexibility, but may not provide enough surface area for the object's safety. Plexiglas provides more surface area but can distract the viewer's attention. I've had occasions to use two or three materials to make a good mount. What will best enhance the overall design? What affect will mount materials have on the object over the long term? Does the object need a padded surface to rest on or need extra security? Will building vibration or earthquakes be of concern? Time, practice and consulting with others will make judgments less intimidating. Use every resource at your disposal.

The field is loaded with rules and guidelines designed to protect objects, all with good reason usually derived from the mistakes of others. Mount making simultaneously demands creativity and a certain amount of rigidity. We balance the visual trickery of theater with the limits of physical science.
 
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Excerpt from MS238 Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts starting February 3, 2020. Want to learn more? Join Tom Bennett for an interesting and informative hands-on journey through exhibit mounts and mounting techniques.

Tom Bennett, recently retired from Museum Manager at the Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo in Anchorage, Alaska, has worked as a professional museum mount maker for over 25 years. He attended the University of Victoria British Columbia, Heritage Preservation Program's basic mountmaking course and learned the rest of his skills on the job. His mounts appear in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Alaska State Museum, the Museum of the Aleutians, the Washington Historical Society, the Monterey Historical Society, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the Port of Seattle (Seattle-Tacoma Airport), and National Park Service and US Forest Service visitor centers. He has worked for five different museum exhibit design and fabrication firms as well as being the former director of the Alaska Museum of Natural History. Tom Bennett works in a variety of materials, including Plexiglas, brass, wood, and polyethylene foam.
Featured Course: Scripting the Exhibition
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma
when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout. 
 
Want to learn how to create better and more interesting exhibit labels?  Join Karin Hostetter for MS235 Scripting the Exhibition  starting February 3, 2020 to learn the keys to writing interesting and informative exhibit labels.
Featured Course: Introduction to Museums
The United States has more than 17,000 museums, we can only guess at the
world's total. While most people think of a museum as a well-staffed, professionally run institution, the vast majority of museums are started and run by people with little or no basic training in museum studies or preservation. Introduction to Museums is designed to change that. The course introduces basic concepts, terminology and the role of various staff members, including curators, registrars and directors. Introduction to Museums is aimed at staff members, board members, interns, volunteers, as well as anyone interested in becoming a museum professional or learning more about the profession.  
 
If you ever wanted to know how museums really work and what it takes to run a successful museum, this is your chance to find out!  Join Kimberly Kenney for MS101 Introduction to Museums starting February 3, 2020 to learn more.
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 March Courses is February 1, 2020
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for April Courses is March 7, 2020 
 
February 2020 Courses
 
February 3 to 28, 2020  
Instructor:  Kimberly Kenney
Description:
The United States has more than 17,000 museums, we can only guess at the world's total. While most people think of a museum as a well-staffed, professionally run institution, the vast majority of museums are started and run by people with little or no basic training in museum studies or preservation. Introduction to Museums is designed to change that. The course introduces basic concepts, terminology and the role of various staff members, including curators, registrars and directors. Introduction to Museums is aimed at staff members, board members, interns, volunteers, as well as anyone interested in becoming a museum professional or learning more about the profession.
 
February 3 to March 6, 2020   
Instructor:  Laura Elliff Cruz
Description:
Every museum professional needs a solid foundation in preservation principles and techniques. Introduction to Collections Preservation provides an overview of current preservation issues from environmental monitoring to collection cleaning, exhibit mounts and storage furniture. Participants learn about every aspect of the modern museum and how the building, staff and fixtures affect preservation. Subjects include the agents of deterioration, risk management, object handling and transport, object labeling, exhibit lighting, security, emergency preparedness, materials for storage and display, storage and exhibit philosophies, and condition assessments.
 
February 3 to 28, 2020
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.
 
February 3 to March 13, 2020  
Instructor:  Tom Bennett
Description:
Sprucing up your exhibits with safe, effective, inexpensive mounts can be easier and more fun than you thought. With a few tools, good technique and a bit of practice, you will be well on the way to presenting your objects in their most interesting light, with an eye on long-term safety and security. Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts presents the basics of mountmaking for the small to medium-sized museum including tools, techniques and materials. Be prepared to construct mounts during the course. Students will be sent a list of materials and tools to acquire before the course commences. Come along and exercise your creative side while doing the collection a world of good.
 
 
March 2020 Courses
 
March 2 to 27, 2020  
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
Volunteers are essential for most non-profit institutions. But good volunteers aren't born -- they are made. Even though they don't get paychecks, it takes time and money to have effective volunteers. Fundamentals of Museum Volunteer Programs teaches the basics of a strong volunteer program. Topics include recruiting, training and rewarding volunteers, as well as preparing staff. Instruction continues through firing and liabilities. Participants will end up with sound foundational knowledge for starting a new or strengthening an existing volunteer program based on a nine-step process.
 
March 2 to 27, 2020
Instructor:  Diana Komejan
Description:
Archaeological finds come out of the ground fragile - and they often stay that way. Yet archaeologists and museum professionals have few clear guidelines for handling, moving, storing and displaying such materials. Participants in Care of Archaeological Artifacts From the Field to the Lab learn techniques for safely lifting and packing artifacts, safe transportation and temporary and permanent storage. The course also covers a broad range of excavation environments, including the Arctic, wet sites, tropical and temperate. Though Care of Archaeological Artifacts is not intended to train archaeological conservators, it is designed to help participants understand what can and can't be done to save the artifacts they unearth
 
MS 227: Care of Paintings  
March 2 to 27, 2020
Instructor:  Elizabeth Burton
Description:
Caring for paintings requires some knowledge of the component structure of paintings and the reaction of those components to both natural and man-made environments. This course looks at the painting structure, the effects of damaging environments, and proposes simple steps for basic care. Topics include the structure of paintings, proper condition reporting with standard damage vocabulary, and basic care and handling including environments, storage, and transport. The course is intended to help those entrusted with the care of paintings in any environment.
 
March 2 to 27, 2020
Instructor:  John Veverka
Description:
A visitor-centered course on how to increase your visitor program participation numbers (attendance) in interpretive programs and experiences. John Veverka researched why visitors select and attend interpretive programs for  2 years while working as a seasonal naturalist with Ohio State Parks and completing his MS in interpretation from the Ohio State University.  The results of this research was groundbreaking for program planning. Employing research results increased program attendance the following year by over 30%. This course teaches how to do your own research into what motivates your visitors. The results may help you increase your visitor numbers and their satisfaction with the experience you offered.
 
April 2020 Courses
  
April 13 to 17, 2020   
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 6 to May 1, 2020  
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 6 to May 15, 2020   
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 6 to May 8, 2020  
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.
 
April 6 to May 1, 2020  
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.
Conferences and Meetings
 
2020
California Association of Museums, Los Angeles, CA
March 4-6, 2020
 
Texas Association of Museums, Bryan College Station, TX
April 13-16, 2020
 
Museum Store Association, Cleveland, OH
April 23-27, 2020
 
June 21-25, 2020
Association of Midwest Museums, Milwaukee, WI July 22-25, 2020

Museums Association New York, Albany, NY
March 29-31, 2020
 
American Alliance of Museums, San Francisco, CA
May 17-20, 2020
 
Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, Alamosa, CO
April 15-18, 2020

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Edinburgh, Scotland
June 7-13, 2020
 
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
 
June 17-20, 2020
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Boston/Sturbridge, MA
 
Society of American Archivists/Council of State Archivists, Chicago, IL
August 2-8, 2020
 
Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Sioux Falls, SD
September 1-4, 2020
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Enid, OK
September 16-18, 2020
 
Smithsonian Institution and Office of Protection Services
National Conference on Cultural Property Protection, Los Angeles, CA
September 21-23, 2020
   

 
 
American Association of State and Local History, Las Vegas, NV
September 23-26, 2020
 
Western Museums Association, Portland, OR October 8-11, 2020
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, Louisville, KY
October 19-21, 2020
 
New England Museum Association, Newport, RI
November 18-20, 2020
 
National Association for Interpretation, Saint Augustine, FL
November 10-14, 2020
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection
Dates and Location coming soon
 
Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, Wilmington, DE Dates TBA
 
2021
American Alliance of Museums, Chicago, IL
May 9-12, 2021
 
National Association for Interpretation, Palm Springs, CA
November 3-December 4, 2021
  
2022
American Alliance of Museums, Boston MA
May 19-22, 2022
 
National Association for Interpretation, Cleveland, OH
November 29-Decemver 3, 2022
 
2023
American Alliance of Museums, Denver, CO
May 19-22, 2023

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