Leadership

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 Teamwork Means for Museums
Instructor Spotlight
Featured Course
October Online Courses
November Online Courses
Featured Product
Regional Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
What Teamwork Means for Museums
By Joan Baldwin

If you read anything about leadership, you will hear the word teamwork. It's used in job descriptions as in "We want a team player," and in dismissals, "She wasn't a good fit, not a team player." In short, it's the 21st-century building block for organizations big and not so big.

In small museums your team may be everyone--trustees, volunteers, administrative assistant, the director (you) and another staff member--while in larger institutions, the people in your department constitute your team. In giant institutions, your team may be the folks you work with daily. You may see others from your department only weekly or monthly.
 
Webster's lists three definitions for the word team: a group of people who compete in a sport; a group of people who work together; and last--for all of you in living history museums--a group of two or more animals used to pull a cart or wagon. By contrast, the Business Dictionary defines team as "A group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project." It goes a step further by pointing out that "A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members."
 
Let's pause here to point out that a well-functioning team doesn't necessarily adjourn to the neighborhood watering hole after work or have pot luck dinners together. It can. But as a museum leader, it's not your job to create friendships. It's your job to define the team's goal and provide the resources (money, additional people/expertise, and time) to achieve it. Everyone may agree that your mission is to serve the public, but there are likely as many variants of that ideal as you have staff members. Your role as a leader is to define how you want that goal accomplished. Otherwise the work you assign is simply a variation of that old story of the leader sending a worker out to bring home a rock. When he sees the rock, he says, "No, not that one." Do not make your team guess what you want. Conversely, if you're a team member and feel as though you're being sent to look for a rock, ask your director to define what she's looking for. Repeat it back. Make sure you understand. (And she does too.)
 
Next, you need to insure that your team has the right composition. Perhaps some of you are sighing right now, the thought bubble over your heads reading, "Who is she kidding, there is no money to hire the perfect team or will to fire chronically weak members." True enough. But all business research points to more success and innovation when teams are diverse, meaning not just racially, but age, gender, and professional focus too. So what do you do? If you work in a medium to large institution, consider pulling in team members from other departments. Don't make them tokens. They will hate it and so will you. Bring them on because they have skill sets and points of view you need, and be transparent about it. If you need a 25-year old who Tweets on the way to work, then let your team know that's why she's in the room. And if you work in a tiny or small institution, consider team building as a way to grow your organization. Ask the folks whose skill sets you need to join for the duration of a particular project. Tell your team to take an afternoon off once a week so that the new director of the Boys and Girls Club can join you in the evening because that's when he's free to volunteer.
 
Last, and most importantly, make sure your organization can support the team in whatever project you've assigned from the most mundane--is there adequate meeting space and IT support for them to work--to money and board or leadership consent. There's nothing worse for team members than working on a project only to be told that leadership isn't supportive, and all their work is for naught.
 
Hopefully, if you provide your team with a clear goal, have the right people around the table, and adequate support for them to do their work, they will develop a shared mindset around the project whether it's a large exhibit, a benefit, or a new way of working with your community. If you are a director, build in periodic check-ins to look at how well the team understood the project mission, absorbed new members, and is moving toward a successful conclusion. And remember to say thank you. In the museum world there's no such thing as end-of-year bonuses, so make your thanks genuine, not perfunctory. And if a team member steps out of her defined task to take on a new role, be sure to ask if there are ways you as leader (along with the organization) can support that new skill.
 
Reprinted with permission from Leadership Matters  Posted: June 27, 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

Gun Safety and Active Shooter Training
By Steve Layne
 
It is disheartening to read about the accidental police shooting in Punta Gorda, Florida...just down the road from me.  It is a cardinal rule in gun safety...you don't point a real weapon at anyone...loaded or unloaded...unless you intend to use deadly force.  For training purposes, there are mock weapons, rubber guns, plastic guns available.  Even then, I'm hesitant to point a weapon at anyone as it goes against every principle of every weapons class I have taught or participated in.  I'm offering this information now because many institutions now participate in "active shooter" training, often presented by local law enforcement.  On at least two occasions, I learned that these agencies displayed real weapons as a part of the program.   It is your right to discuss how training will take place at your institution.  Meet with program presenters prior to the training and let your feelings be known.   As a presenter of numerous active shooter training programs to literally thousands of recipients, I have not received a single complaint about our refusal to display real weapons as a part of the training. 
 
Stevan P. Layne is the principal consultant and chief executive of Layne Consultants International, a leading provider of cultural property protection advice. Steve is a former police chief, public safety director and museum security director. He is the author of Safeguarding Cultural Properties: Security for Museums, Libraries, Parks and Zoos, and the Business Survival Guide. Steve regularly presents to professional associations and has consulted with more than 400 museums and other institutions. Steve is the founding director of the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection and responsible for the professional training and certification of more than 1,000 museum professionals. For more information visit his web site Layne Consultants International.

Steve Layne teaches our MS107 Introduction to Security course.
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 November courses is October 8, 2016. 
Featured Course: Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts

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.

Join Tom Bennett for this interesting and informative course, MS238 Design and Construction of Exhibit Mounts starting October 3, 2016 
October 2016 Courses
 
October 17 to 21, 2016
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.
 
October 24 to 28, 2016
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
What do you do with collection objects that no longer belong in the scientific collection but are too good to throw out? What do you do with the donations that just don't quite 'fit?' Use them in education collections. Their value as educational objects for the public is immeasurable.
 
October 3 to November 11, 2016
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
Nearly every museum develops exhibits, but how can we improve communication with visitors while taking care of our objects? Exhibit Fundamentals explores exhibits from idea to final installation in a variety of settings. Topics include exhibit theory, the role of the museum's mission, creating a timeline, accessibility and script writing. Also covered are design elements, installation techniques, object safety and security, visitor safety and evaluations. Each student develops an exhibit plan for his or her museum.
 
October 3 to November 4, 2016
Instructor:  Sue Near
Description:
Sound business practices are critical for a museum to fulfill its mission. Sounds like vegetables, right? Museum management is complex. A museum exists to preserve collections and educate, but it is also an institution that must employ sound business practices while being accountable to the public as a non-profit organization. Instructor Sue Near teaches participants how to administer a successful museum efficiently and effectively. Participants will engage in discussions about the changing cultural climate and its effect on museum operations.
 
October 3 to November 11, 2016
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.
 
October 3 to November 11, 2016
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.
 
October 3 to November 28, 2016
Instructor:  Helen Alten
Description:
Safeguarding collections and protecting staff and visitors is one of the most important functions of a cultural institution. This course introduces students to disaster preparedness, response and recovery of cultural collections for all types of potential hazards. The components of incident preparedness and response are explained with examples from the instructor's experience in recovery of cultural collections, including small to large situations with fire, flood, high winds, and earthquake. After an institutional plan is written, the next step is to train staff in prevention, proper staff actions during an event, and post-event recovery. This course complements Disaster Plan Research and Writing, taught by Terri Schindel.
November 2016 Courses
 
November 7 to 11, 2016
Instructor:  Terri Schindel
Description:
Disaster planning is overwhelming. Where do you start? Talk to Terri about how to get going. Use her checklist to determine your level of preparedness. What do you already have in place? Are you somewhat prepared? What can you do next? Help clarify your current state of readiness and develop future steps to improve it.
 
November 7 to 11, 2016
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
The heart of every museum is its collection. A mission statement is critical to preserving that collection. Participants in The Mission Statement will discuss their mission statements and whether they really make a difference. Peggy has seen and heard it all as a consultant to small and large museums. She will help you figure out ways to make your mission statement work for you.
 
November 7 to December 16, 2016
Instructor:  Ernest Conrad
Description:
The museum's brick exterior wall is crumbling. The powder coated metal storage shelves have active rust under the foam padding. Objects in fur storage are covered in mold. It is raining in the exhibit hall. This is the damage that occurs to museum buildings or collection when staff do not understand preservation environments. Preservation Environments is essential knowledge for any collecting institution. Everyone should understand how humidity and temperature are controlled by a building and its mechanical system. For museum staff considering a new building - and any institution planning to expand or rebuild an existing one - Preservation Environments provide important information for calculating whether the proposed improvements will actually improve the environmental control of your protective enclosure. Participants learn the advantages and disadvantages of numerous methods of temperature and humidity control. Preservation Environments does not try to turn museum professionals into engineers. Rather, it arms them with the knowledge they need to work with engineers and maintenance professionals. And helps explain why damaged occurred and how to keep it from happening again.
 
November 7 to December 5, 2016
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.

MS 218: Collection Inventories
November 7 to December 5, 2016
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
Collection inventories are vital to collection management and security. You need to know what is in your collection to be able to manage it well. This means regular inventories must occur. But knowing you must do them and actually having the time and manpower to complete an inventory are two different things. Collection Inventories discusses everything you ever wanted to know about collection inventories. From how to set one up to how to conduct an inventory. Other topics include what to look for during an inventory and how to reconcile the information.

November 7 to December 16, 2016
Instructor: Helen Alten
Description:
Baskets are an important part of nearly every world culture. Caring for baskets requires an understanding of why and how they deteriorate. Care of Baskets provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of basketry materials. Starting with an overview of the history and function of baskets and how they are made, Care of Baskets will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing baskets, including condition assessments and an introduction to integrated pest management. An overview of treatments used on baskets and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the basket will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.

November 7 to December 16, 2016
Instructor:  Karin Hostetter
Description:
Volunteers should be considered unpaid staff and, like a staff handbook, a strong volunteer organization should have a volunteer handbook. This course goes beyond understanding various aspects of a volunteer program to putting the volunteer program to paper. Create an outline and some draft text for a handbook providing consistency within the volunteers as well a legal support if ever needed.
 
November 7 to December 5, 2016
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.
Featured Product

Mount-making for Museum Objects

by Robert Barclay, Andre Bergeron and Carole Dignard

This book provides specific information and useful advice on the mounting of museum objects. Topics covered include reasons for creating mounts, recommended stable materials, tips on choosing materials, the working properties of materials, and methods for measuring artifacts. Objects with custom-made mounts are illustrated with photographs and line drawings. A supplier list and bibliography add to the overall quality of this book.

Regional Workshops
Where you can find some of our instructors in 2016:

Stevan P. Layne

  • Hosted by ASIS International and sponsored by the ASIS Cultural Properties Council, Orlando, FL, September 13, 2016
Peggy Schaller

Past Perfect Museum Software Training
  • October 4, 2016, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, SD
  • October 6, 2016, Journey Museum & Learning Center, Rapid City, SD
Conferences and Meetings
2016
American Association of State and Local History, Detroit, Michigan
September 14-17, 2016
 
Alberta Museums Association, Calgary, Alberta
September 15-17, 2016
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
September 21-23, 2016
 
Western Museums Association, Phoenix, AZ
September 25-28, 2016.  

Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, Phoenix, AZ
October 9-15, 2016
 
Southeastern Museums Conference Charlotte, NC
October 10-12, 2016
   
Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Oklahoma City
October 23-27, 2016

National Association for Interpretation, Corpus Christi, Texas 
November 8-12, 2016
 
New England Museum Association, 2016 Annual Conference, Mystic, CT
November 9-11, 2016

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
Dates TBA 
 
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