Bias in the Workplace 
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

You Are Judged: Bias and the Museum Workplace
Featured Course
July 2018 Online Courses
August 2018 Online Courses
Conferences and Meetings
You Are Judged: Bias and the Museum Workplace
By Joan Baldwin
 
Unconscious bias follows all of us around like a shadow. It's not exclusive to people we don't like or trust. It belongs to everyone. It comes to work with us every day. It's there when co-workers chat over coffee, when we go to staff meetings and when we make decisions. It's present when we interview new employees or volunteers. And it's there any time we want to make change in the workplace.
 
Perhaps it doesn't feel like your problem because you work with a homogeneous staff? Or perhaps homogeneity defines your part of the museum? Living inside a bubble doesn't mean bias isn't there. It just means you don't experience it. And while much of today's discussion tends toward race, bias is a searchlight pointed alternately at age, gender, weight, voice, education, class, and more.
 
History shows us life is iterative. A century ago white women struggled to gain museum leadership positions, but for people of color in 1918, even an assistant to the director position wasn't a possibility. Today, the needle's moved. Just not enough. We can see what's wrong, and the data is there in case we need to have injustice confirmed by numbers.
 
And its not just museum offices where bias raises its head. Recently bias seeped into collections decisions--at the Brooklyn Museum where the well-publicized hiring of a white curator for the African collection spurred the Museum's community to protest,  and at the Baltimore Museum of Art where the decision to deaccession in order to purchase work from marginalized artists set tongues wagging.
 
Museum leaders and boards need courage. They will never be seen as working with communities if they aren't brave enough to stand beside them against sexism, poverty and bigotry. Speaking out means risk, and many organizations feel they can't afford it; the loss of a gift or board member is too dangerous to take a stand. But courage also demands hope, the hope that losing one gift might mean another arrives precisely because a museum or heritage organization stood up for what it believes.
 
Museums and heritage organizations absorb and reflect the world in which they function, and the world outside is frequently polarized. Should museum leaders take a stand? Yes. Noblesse oblige isn't enough. The days of museums and heritage organizations doing stuff for communities are over. It's time to work with them. But before museums can be value driven, their leaders and their boards, and, in fact, all of us need to listen to each other, however hard it is. We need the courage to call out truth, but once the words are said, it's what comes next that matters. We need to wait for the answer, and listen again. It is exhausting, but naming bias and bigotry isn't enough. In fact, it can further pigeon hole colleagues, community members or trustees. Perhaps the hardest thing about undoing injustice is understanding it's not just about us. It can't be solely about our personal narratives. It's for all of us, and that requires understanding on everyone's part.
 
What should museum and heritage organizations leaders do to change?
  • Know your organization. Know your community. Know where your community and organizational values intersect. Be a bridge builder.
  • Help your organizational leadership to model ways to change behavior without further polarizing a situation.
  • Make sure your staff has a place to go if they are treated wrongly or unfairly. Make sure you and your board actually know what happens to staff who complain about bias or inequity.
  • Don't let diversity and community be social-media deep. Engage.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen.
 
Reprinted with permission from Leadership Matters  Posted: May 21, 2018
Thoughts on 21st Century museum leadership by Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin
For more information on Leadership please check out other articles from this Blog.
Featured Course: Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums

The seasonal closure of a museum presents unique challenges and opportunities for collection preservation. This is an introductory-level conservation course exploring simple collection preservation methods for seasonal museums. The target Audience for the course is curators and other museum personnel, volunteers, site managers, maintenance personnel. No prior conservation training necessary. Participants will learn about the challenges and opportunities associated with caring for collections in seasonal facilities. They will learn about the risks to collections and how to mitigate them through closing and re-opening procedures, as well as throughout the winter season.
 
Do you operate a Seasonal Museum; closing in the winter and opening in the spring?  Join Diana Komejan for MS219 Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums beginning August 20, 2018.  
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 August courses is July 7, 2018 and July 21, 2018.   
July 2018 Courses
 
July 2 to August 24, 2018
Instructor: Terri Schindel
Description:
Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course.
 
July 2 to 31, 2018
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Description:
Cataloging may not be the most exciting museum task, but it is among the most important. Without a clear knowledge of your holdings, you can't protect, care for, research or exhibit them. Without knowledge of an item's history, you can't properly appreciate its value to your museum. Cataloging Your Collection covers all details needed to catalog a collection. Procedures for handling, measuring and describing all types of objects and materials are discussed in detail. Participants receive sample forms and learn the best practices for numbering artifacts, performing inventory and assessing the condition of objects. Participants practice describing everyday objects and cataloging items from their own collections or households.
 
MS210: Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives
July 2 to August 10, 2018
Instructor: Christina Cain
Description:
The only thing worse than mice or cockroaches in your kitchen, is finding them in your museum collection. Participants in Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives learn low-toxicity methods of controlling infestations. IPM is the standard method for treating incoming items and monitoring holdings. Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives discusses how infestations occur, helps identify risks, provides feasible mitigation strategies, discusses the different techniques of treating infested materials, and helps you complete an IPM plan and monitoring schedule for your institution. The course covers pest identification, insects, rodent, birds, bats, other mammals and mold infestations, as well as other problems raised by participants.
 
July 2 to 31, 2018
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
This course will examine the role of ethics in museums and related institutions. Topics addressed will include the differences in ethics, laws, and morals; what ethics are and where they come from; the ethical codes that museum professionals follow; how ethics affect professional practices; why ethics are important; and how ethical standards can help museums and related institutions better serve society. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the importance of ethics in professional museum practice, how codes of ethics are written and why they are important, and will develop an understanding of the most significant codes of ethics subscribed to by museum professionals.
August 2018 Courses
 
August 20 to September 7, 2018
Instructor: Diana Komejan
Description:
The seasonal closure of a museum presents unique challenges and opportunities for collection preservation. This is an introductory-level conservation course exploring simple collection preservation methods for seasonal museums. The target Audience for the course is curators and other museum personnel, volunteers, site managers, maintenance personnel. No prior conservation training necessary. Participants will learn about the challenges and opportunities associated with caring for collections in seasonal facilities. They will learn about the risks to collections and how to mitigate them through closing and re-opening procedures, as well as throughout the winter season.
 
 
August 6 to 31, 2018
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
The world of museum education is as varied as the imagination. From school field trips to online blogs, from 2-year-olds to senior citizens, and from formal programs to volunteering, it is all part of the educational delivery system of a museum. In Education in Museums, survey the education programs offered at your site. Determine what exhibits and collections need better representation through education. Develop a long term plan of education program development for your site that you can use to improve services to your community.
 
Conferences and Meetings
 
2018  
   
AAMG & UMAC Conference 2018, Miami, FL 
June 21-24, 2018 
 
Association of Midwest Museums, Chicago, IL
July 18-21, 2018
 
Society of American Archivists, Washington, DC
August 12-18, 2018
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Dunedin, New Zealand
August 25-September 2, 2018 

Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Billings, MT
September 11-September 15, 2018
 
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Edmond, OK
September 19-21, 2018

American Association of State and Local History, Kansas City, MO 
September 26-29, 2018  
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2018 Annual Meeting, Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
   

 
  
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA
October 13-17, 2018 
 
Western Museums Association, Tacoma, WA
October 21-24, 2018 
 
New England Museum Association, Stamford, CT
November 7-9, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation,  
New Orleans, LA
November 27-December 1, 2018
 
2019 
Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Albuquerque, NM
September 22-September 25, 2019

National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019

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