What Makes a Leader

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

What Makes a Leader
Instructor Spotlight
Featured Course
January 2017 Online Courses
February 2017 Online Courses
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
When You're Not a Museum Leader: Seven Ways to Act Like One

By Joan Baldwin

Not everyone comes to the museum field eager for leadership. Sometimes we're moved forward. Sometimes we realize we're ready for it and we move ourselves forward, but all too often leadership is an unintentional consequence. Like when you become the education director and find out that you're supervising a staff of 50 volunteers, but only until the organization hires a volunteer coordinator. In the next fiscal year. Suddenly you're a boss of a lot of people some of whom are old enough to be your parents or your grandparents.

On the other hand, if you aspire to museum leadership, but aren't there yet, you may have heard or read the phrase, "you can lead from anywhere in the room." We used it more than a few times in Leadership Matters. And we believe it, but to the uninitiated, it may be hard to figure out how to look like a leader when you're in row three at an all-staff meeting, and potentially the youngest or newest person in the organization. So here--in no particular order--are some strategies for figuring out leadership before you get the job.
  1. Learn how to say you're sorry. All leaders make mistakes. And if you can't humble yourself in front of your team, there won't be much trust there. The next time you mess up, get out in front of the error quickly. Apologize to your boss and your colleagues and offer strategies, either personal or organizational, for moving forward.
  2. Separate the parts of your job over which you have authority from those where you're the one responsible. In many museums there are the worker bees who take on more and more work. Why? Because they're great time managers, they have a sense of duty, and their bosses know a good thing when they see it. But multiple responsibilities don't add up to authority. They add up to a huge to-do list over which you have little control in the end. The result? You are angry or sad or possibly both. Make a list. Separate your job into areas over which you have real authority, and the areas where you're responsible. Be strategic. At your next job review, advocate for increased authority.
  3. Enthusiasm isn't everything. Be strategic when talking about your work. Let your director (or direct report) know why you like something. Hearing general enthusiasm for working with collections isn't the same as hearing your enthusiasm about finally moving the Excel files to the new open-access collections management program.
  4. Don't hang out with the office gossip. Every office has one and museum workplaces are offices. That person has defined power as knowing as much as she or he can about everyone. Back-stabbing and talking behind people's back is not the path to leadership.
  5. Embrace change. Every office also has the person who can't cope with change. They mournfully explain why new ideas won't work, describing in painful detail how some variation of what's just been proposed didn't work 15 years ago. Or was it seven years ago? Don't be that person. In fact, be the person who gently shuts them down and suggests experimenting.
  6. Support your colleagues. They don't have to be your friends, and you never have to see them three sheets to the wind at the office holiday event, but you need one another to make stuff happen. That's why you come to work. To make stuff happen. So don't judge. Just assume everybody's trying their best.
  7. Advocate for your program, project, exhibit or idea. If you don't care about what you're doing enough to talk about it, why should anyone else?
And let us know how you lead when you're not the person with the title.

Reprinted with permission from Leadership Matters Posted: October 31, 2016 
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.
Instructor Spotlight: Victoria Montana Ryan

Victoria Montana Ryan is a former Assistant Professor for the Conservation of Paintings at Queen's University Kingston, Ontario and former adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver where she was conservator of paintings at the Rocky Mountain Conservation Center for over a decade. Victoria Montana Ryan received her Master of Art Conservation from Queen's University and a Master of Arts degree with an emphasis in Art Education/Museum Studies from the University of New Mexico. Ms. Ryan has authored papers on the care of paintings, integrated pest management, and the importance of working with appraisers; she has also appeared on the Discovery Channel to discuss care of personal treasures. A Fellow of the American Institute for Conservation, Ms. Ryan is also a member of the Western Association for Art Conservation and the Canadian Association for Conservation. She resides in Colorado Springs, CO where she operates her private conservation practice, Art Care Services, to serve the conservation needs of museums, historical societies, public and private collectors, institutions, corporations, and municipalities, focusing on the care and preservation of works of art. For more information visit her web site Art Care Services
Victoria Montana Ryan teaches our MS227: Care of Paintings course beginning February 6, 2017.   Join her for a fascinating and informative look at paintings!
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 January 2017 courses is December 2, 2016.  

The Early Bird Discount deadline for February 217 courses is January 7, 2017
 
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.

Join Fiona Graham for this interesting and very informative course MS219: Opening and Closing Seasonal Museums beginning February 6, 2017. 
January 2017 Courses
 
January 2 to January 27, 2017
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Description:
Collections management is a critical component of running a museum. Most museums have collections and these collections drive the public functions and activities of the institution. Collections management is the physical and intellectual management of these items. In this course we will examine how information is collected and recorded for each object brought into the collection - a process called registration. We will also examine the policies that govern what is brought into the collection, including the most important piece of institutional policy--the museum mission statement. These policies are assembled into the collections management 'bible'--the registration manual. At the end of this course you should have a clear understanding of how and why collections are documented in museums and the governing principles that drive daily museum activities.
 
January 9 to February 3, 2017
Instructor: Helen Alten
Description:
Prior to the invention of plastics, skin materials were the flexible covering used for most objects - from bellows to books, carriages to desktops. Furs and skins are in almost every museum's collection, be it Natural History, History or Art. Caring for leather and skin materials demands an understanding of how and why they deteriorate. Care of Leather and Skin Materials offers a simplified explanation of the origin, chemistry and structure of leathers and skins. Students learn to identify leathers and surface finishes, determine their extent of deterioration, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to leather and skins both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing hide and skin materials for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials and which ones might harm skin proteins, housekeeping techniques for large objects or books on open display, and three-dimensional supports for leather and skin to keep them from distorting. Integrated pest management and historical treatments will be covered, with a unit on hazardous materials applied to older skins and leather that might prove a danger to staff.
 
January 2 to January 27, 2017
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 6 to March 3, 2017
Instructor: Helen Alten
Description:
Applying Numbers to Collection Objects covers the materials and methods of object numbering: registration, handling, labeling and marking, number placement, documentation, health and safety, transponders and barcodes, surface marks, inks, paints and barrier coats. Each participant receives a Northern States Conservation Center collections labeling kit and performs experiments using its contents. Participants learn to determine what pen, ink, barrier coat or tag is appropriate for each object and storage or display situation.
 
February 6 to March 3, 2017
Instructor: Fiona Graham
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.
 
February 6 to March 3, 2017
Instructor: Victoria Montana Ryan
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.
 
February 6 to March 3, 2017
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.
 
February 6 to March 17, 2017
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.
Regional Workshops
Where you can find some of our instructors in 2016:

Stevan P. Layne

  • February 6-7, 2017, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA

Conferences and Meetings
 
2017 
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Rochester, NY
June 9-13, 2017
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Denver, CO 
June 18-24, 2017

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Eugene, OR
June 22-26, 2017

 
Society of American Archivists, 2017 Annual Meeting, Portland, OR  
July 23-29, 2017  

American Association for State and Local History, Austin, TX
September 6-9, 2017

Southeastern Museums Conference, 2017 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA 
September 11-13, 2017 
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, New Haven, CT
September 17-20, 2017

Western Museums Association, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
September 20-23, 2017
 


New England Museum Association, 2017 Annual Conference, North Falmouth, MA
October 25-27, 2017
 
National Association for Interpretation, Spokane, Washington
November 14-18, 2017

2018
Society of American Archivists, 2018 Annual Meeting, Washington, DC
August 12-18, 2018

Western Museums Association, Tacoma, WA
Dates TBA 
 
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2018 Annual Meeting, Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation
Dates and location TBD
November 2018
 
2019  
National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019


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