Friday, 23 November 2012

Celebrating Anniversaries: HME Evening Meeting November 19, 2012

Monday we met at the warm and bustling Queen's Head pub and had a lively discussion about how museums celebrate.

Some highlights:

Ruthven Park's Education Coordinator shared the recent success of the innovative story-telling medium of puppet shows.
Partnering with Studio Babette, Ruthven Park produced "From Ruthven to Passchendaele":
"From the splendour and natural wonder of the Ruthven mansion, to the destitute fields of mud in the Somme, to the healing hospitals of Britain, From Ruthven to Passchendaele commemorates the upcoming 100 year anniversary of World War I with a touching, vividly realized portrait of Canadian bravery and sacrifice."

This play was made possible by a grant from Veterans Canada.

In 2010, the Bell Homestead held their centenary celebrations. Two years in the planning, it was a three-day weekend including a gala dinner, a book launch (with actors performing readings from Bell family letters),and an historic 1910 picnic with horse & buggy rides and period appropriate foods.

Discussion surrounding the centenary of WWI; what is everyone planning?
This anniversary may have a greater connection to people today than 1812.
There are a number of committees forming to share information: if you are part of a committee, please share your information here and let HME know!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Historic Merchants Christmas Gift-Market

Saturday, November 24th, 2012, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
~ at ~
Royal Botanical Gardens,
680 Plains Road West, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Discover a Christmas Market straight from the times of
Jane Austen and Charles Dickens

Join us for one of the premiere shopping events of the season, as some 30 historic merchants and artisans get together to recreate an Upper Canadian Christmas Market from the early 19th century. All of the merchandise dates from the period 1700-1919, which means that this is a terrific place to find gifts for those impossible to buy for people on your holiday list. Wandering the aisles filled with historically-themed booths staffed by vendors in period dress and filled with treasures from the past, you might well expect to run into Jane Austen or Charles Dickens browsing the books, choosing a period garment, or selecting the perfect bauble.

The Gathering is being held during the separately run Royal Botanical Gardens' annual holiday season " Holiday Traditions" event, featuring cleverly themed, decorated doors throughout RBG Centre. The day is filled with seasonal activities, musical entertainment, local school and adult choirs, an entire room full of light and model train displays, and, of course, Santa and his real, live reindeer!

With the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 upon us for the next few years, this is also the perfect place to find out about some of the wonderful upcoming events and how to get involved with them. It’s also just about the best place going to get yourself fully kitted out with everything 1812, so you’ll be ready in fine style, no matter what the bicentennial might bring!

For those wishing for lunch or afternoon tea, Royal Botanical Gardens boasts a full restaurant as well as a juice and sandwich bar for light refreshments. We hope that you'll join us for what promises to be an exciting day of shopping, camaraderie, and fun!

One admission gives entry to both events. Admission is free of charge to those in period dress, and also to Members of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Regular RBG admission will apply to those in modern clothing, as follows: 
Adults: $12; Senior/Student: 
$10; Child (5-12): $7; 
Child (under 5): free; 
Family (2 adults, 2 children): $30.00. 

Further information on the event may be found at, or by email at, as well as through RBGs' site at

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Interpretation Canada: Online Conference

Following on the heels of our fascinating PLC discussion regarding "mixed reality", Interpretation Canada will be holding a conference on November 27-29.
This is a conference with a difference: you can attend online!
Register here.

From their site:
Get inspired, get updated, and get together - at Interpretation Canada's fourth annual online conference November 27-29, 2012! 
Participate in the six live one-hour sessions, or watch the recordings at a later date. Choose the site registration rate for co-workers to gather around a single computer or projection screen.
Connecting you with experts from across North America, this conference explores how to take interpretation to the next level. Our keynote speaker, Sam Ham, will give us a preview of his revised and updated book and will share his latest thoughts on writing strong interpretive themes.
Once again, you can forget about travel costs and approval processes, as we inspire you with cutting edge topics on interpretation - delivered right to your computer. No matter how remote your museum, park, or site, you will be connected to a thriving community of interpreters. So grab a coffee, pull up a chair, and join us for this exciting event!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Notes on the PLC: Inside View/Outside View: A Return to Active Audiences in Museums and Galleries

Yesterday was the first PLC of HME's 2012-2013 schedule.
We heard four presentations on topics ranging from hands-on scent-based activities to online "mixed reality" and its applicability to museums and galleries.

Below are some notes taken about each presentation. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Laurie Kilgour-Walsh
Educator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton
Interpretive Resources in the Gallery
-how do we engage audiences who arrive at the gallery without a group or formal tour?
-good resource: Nina' Simon's Participatory Museum; create an audience-centred institution that's as useable as a mall or train station
-why do we want to make art institutions more participatory? more interesting, get people to return, destroy ideas surrounding the "ivory tower", make people comfortable in the space (social and playful space)
-art institutions face a challenge between curatorial and educational departments; sometimes there's a strong bias against "amateurs" contributing to the gallery space (re: visitors)
-the museum should be a meeting ground for dialogue, instead of being about something, it's for someone
-what is the difference between interactive and participatory activities?
Interactive: has an end point, safe, predictable
Participatory: has no end point, open-ended, everyone has the ability to create something new BUT can be unpreditable, might be difficult for the visitor to get started

Activities at the AGH
Activity Book
When children and families arrive, they are offered an activity book at the front desk. This book contains a variety of activities, including word searches, drawing sections, scavenger hunt, and especially interesting is the front page with information as to why we can't touch artwork.

Discovery Kit
A small tote that contains sample of different fabric textures, paint-surface textures, maps, brushes, canvasses, and papers. These kits have had a great response from visitors.

Totem Pole
A set of totems were painted using mylar (?) as the base, with information regarding each totem animal and its symbolism on the back. Visitors were allowed to arrange these in any way they wished. Some of these creators were so proud they photographed themselves with their totems and posted it on Facebook.

Vote: Visitor's Choice
A box, constructed with a plexiglass front, was employed to measure, in a very visual way,  visitors' votes for their favourite artwork. Each person was given a colourful token, which to place in their preferred artwork's slot. Over the summer, there were over 3000 votes.

Dr. David Harris Smith
Assistant Professor in Communication Studies & Multimedia at McMaster University
macGRID, Mixed Reality and Museums
Second Life Screen Capture
-macGRID is a McMaster University initiative, a collaboration between staff, scholars, community members, artists; it dissolves the boundaries between virtual and embodied spaces to create "mixed reality" (see more information here on macGRID's site)

History of Arts and Technology Collaborations
-Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.)
-the arts have considered the cultural implications of technology, and even inspired new technology
-1978-80: Bill Bartlett, the Canadian artist, collaboration with satellite and video technologies
-1931: Worth, Key factors of urbanism is bringing people together and providing an infrastructure. Features of human society and culture are that we can divide labour and have role specialization
-democratizing art practices (beginning in 1960s); especially artists-run centres, they are not there for evaluative curatorial practices, but for collaborative and democratic reasons (eg: helping to propel artists interest in new media)
-Fluxus artist Filliou, 1973: "the eternal network is more useful than the avant garde".
-connect the collaborative, democratic eternal network to the virtual world (eg: Odyssey Island, 2006)

-Dr. Smith found people in many disciplines working with virtual reality
-using an open source program (Open Simulator) and high performance computing techology ("Shark Net"), macGRID is using this technology for social interaction (Shark Net is specifically for universities, to help with Humanities computing)
-macGRID is the tools an infrastructure for a variety of mixed reality uses:
art, mapping and modeling, data imaging, gaming, social media, simulation, artificial intelligence, archiving
-examples of what macGRID can do: working with RBG on mapping Cootes Paradise
-examples of what mixed reality can do: Aurasma, Google glasses
-interesting information about mirror neurons in Ramachandran's Ted Talk, this is how humans learn; the more real virtual reality becomes, the better learning tool it can be
-there's space on macGRID: anyone who wants to collaborate can approach macGRID with a project

Lindsay Doren
Lead Historic Interpreter
Museums of Mississauga
Bradley Museum Scent Project
Reproduction Spice Tin
-as a historic house, the exhibits tend to be static; some items in the house, people seem to like that everything remains the same (nostalgia)
-all programming is interactive, but participatory activities are challenging because they can't change anything in the spaces
-how to get adults to come back and engage them while they're there, across all their 5 senses?
-there's always interesting things to see, or hear, plenty of tactile activities, and all programs involve food
-they've started to focus on smell: scent memory, connect to the past, associate bitter experiences with historic experiences
-for the parlour, they created a tea box; associated with expense (fancy reproduction box), containing cotton bags with variety of teas
-for the kitchen, a reproduction spice tin holds a variety of spices (can be labelled, or can function as a guessing game). ESL tours are particularly pleased with the spice tin; it's something they can all enjoy, and can open dialogue about how they use the spice. The tins are also very useful for those with learning or physical disabilities, better to have a variety of ways to learn
-this is also a way to serve older adults; a place for seniors to talk about their own history

The ceiling sculpture is by Kris Nahrgang. It dipicts a Thunderbird and a number of hanging elements such as tobacco, feathers, and antler. Thunderbirds were viewed as protectors and overseers and are believed to have perched in high places such as rock ledges, locations that were often held in high regard.
Meredith Leonard, MMSt., M.S. Ed. 
Visitor Services Coordinator
St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre
-ecomuseum model used to face rural museum challenges
-this model developed in 1970s; a dynamic way museums preserve, interpret and manage their heritage for sustainable development
-demographic is spread out over large area, mainly seniors; how to bring them in?
-community partnerships focus on tangible and intangible heritage
-Mewinzha; arose due to public need: in 2000, there was an archaeological dig around the Peace Bridge, needed to have an interpretation space tied to the site itself (also shows contemporary First Nations art)
-Fort Erie alternate sites: some people can't get all the way out to the museum, so they brought smaller interpretive displays to places such as Town Hall, the Public Library and Festivals
-built heritage/history; ruins of Erie Beach Amusement Park (closed in 1930s) has an interpretive sign
-they also bring events directly into the community eg: Fashions of 1812. This was volunteer initiated and mainly run by them as well, it was held in a church, with donated, period-appropriate snacks. Teens were recruited from local restaurants to be models (good way to bring new people in to the museum!). They also took this show on the road to Wainfleet (again, to a church) and Niagara on the Lake.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

HME PLC: Inside View/Outside View: A Return to Active Audiences in Museums and Galleries

Photo from
You are invited to register for...
HME Peer Learning Circle
Monday November 12, 2012

Inside View/Outside View: A Return to Active Audiences in Museums and Galleries
Art Gallery of Hamilton
123 King Street West, Hamilton, ON

Please register for this exciting peer-learning opportunity by requesting a registration form from the HME Coordinators. Please submit the registration form by November 8. Spaces are limited so make sure to send in your registration early!

Presenters include:

Meredith Leonard, MMSt., M.S. Ed.
Visitor Services Coordinator
St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre
Community InReach: adapting principles from the ecomuseum model to deliver accessible programming in a rural community. This presentation addresses the use of ecomuseum concepts and ideas such as a fragmented site network, a variety of collaborative partnerships, an engaged volunteer base and inputs from a variety of sources to create exhibitions and programming that go outside of the museum walls and directly into community spaces, making museum learning experiences more accessible and engaging to a larger population.

Dr. David Harris Smith
Assistant Professor in Communication Studies & Multimedia at McMaster University
This talk considers urbanism in the mediated circumstance of an intentionally designed virtual world community of artists and researchers. I discuss the theoretical issues and historical precedents implicated in the articulation of urbanism and digital culture and consider how these inform the design and implementation of an online virtual world research community, macGRID Art & Cyberscience Network. I am especially interested in the fusion of virtual and embodied social spaces in what is called mixed reality, and the potential of these emerging digitally mediated sites of collaborative knowledge production and artistic creation.

Lindsay Doren
Lead Historic Interpreter
Museums of Mississauga
Bradley Museum Scent Project
A discussion of the development of our scent project; including the reasons for creating it, how it was done and its outcome. Will include showing the items we created.

Dave Barr
Digital Projects Coordinator for the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery
The Mobile Museum - A New Path to Active Audiences.
The notion of active, heterogeneous audiences is decades old, but has attracted renewed interest with the development of new technologies offering the possibility of highly personalized messages and pervasive social sharing. Museums opting to offer a mobile experience for their visitors can choose from a variety of strategies to enrich the museum visit, enhance museum education and engage new audiences. The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery has just launched a mobile museum program with low entry cost and the potential to attract a new demographic to the institution.

Laurie Kilgour-Walsh
Educator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton
Presented will be a variety of Participatory projects at the AGH.

Nicole Neufeld
Director of Public Programs at The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
Gather at the Gallery Program
Gather at the Gallery program, a KW|AG partnership with the Alzheimer Society of KW. Dr. Lisa Meschino, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Waterloo and Cara Dowhaniuk, a Dementia Support Counsellor with the Alzheimer Society spoke about the program and its value. The pair said it has help provide participants with a strong support network and that connecting with others through art has strengthened that network and given a new sense of hope. They spoke about how rewarding the experience has been not only for its participants but for them as well.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Museum Movies: HME Evening Meeting Oct 22, 2012

Last night we met for out Movie Night: Share your favourite intriguing films/documentaries/youtube videos.
We had many suggestions from this meeting. Linked are just a few below.

I thought I'd start with the fun one that I hope you've all seen!

The Art of the Steal
"The Art of the Steal is a 2009 documentary film about the decades-long efforts to resolve financial problems of the Barnes Foundation, an esoteric collection of mostly Modernist and post-Impressionist artworks, resulting in the officers' decision to break Albert C. Barnes's will and relocate the collection from Lower Merion to Philadelphia.The emphasis of the film is on the breaking of Barnes' will." (from wikipedia)

Very watchable, and applicable to any sort of public institution who accepts donations. A great documentary.
Available at the Hamilton Public Library or from  Check your local library or video store for a copy.

Museum of Life
"Jimmy Doherty goes behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum to join the people who are uncovering secrets, solving mysteries and making discoveries among the historic collections." (from BBC)
Watch on youtube here (episode 1 of 6).

The History of the World in 100 Objects
This is a fantastic podcast produced by the BBC/British Museum in 2010-11. "....[c]omprising a 100-part radio series written and presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor. In 15-minute presentations broadcast on weekdays on Radio 4, MacGregor used objects of ancient art, industry, technology and arms, all of which are in the British Museum's collections, as an introduction to parts of human history." (from wikipedia).
Download all the episodes for FREE here.

Of course, these are just a few of the many different movies, documentaries, podcasts or even youtube videos of note.

Herb and Dorothy (watch here)
"Herb and Dorothy" tells the extraordinary story of Herbert Vogel, a postal clerk, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means.

Rivers and Stones (watch here)
Portrait of Andy Goldsworthy, an artist whose specialty is ephemeral sculptures made from elements of nature.

The Mystery of Mazo (watch here and here)
This feature documentary tells the mysterious story of Canadian author Mazo de la Roche, author of the Jalna novels. Using both dramatic and documentary techniques to untie the tangled life of this compelling woman, the film explores her uncommon family life and reveals the secrets behind the extraordinary partnership that allowed the Jalna saga to grow into the phenomenon it is today. Mazo was friends with the Harris family who resides at Benares, now part of the Museums of Mississauga. The Whiteoaks family in her books share many similarities to the Harrises!

Also of note: have you googled/checked youtube for videos of your site? You might be surprised what you can find!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Survey Results

Below are the results of the survey to HME members which was sent out at the beginning of September. There were 27 total respondents - thanks everyone!

With this feedback, we will be moving forward with the following changes:

Evening sessions will now begin at 6:30 pm. This will be noted on all invitations, and has been updated on our Schedule Page.

We will be moving the meetings around to different cities. Check the upcoming meeting schedule for our locations.

Thanks again for your feedback!

Travel How far are you willing to travel to attend an HME meeting?
20 minutes or less   
    11.5%    3
20-40 minutes   
    50.0%    13
40-60 minutes   
    30.8%    8
60 minutes or more   
    7.7%    2

Time What time works best for you?
Daytime meeting: 10:00-3:00   
    42.3%    11
Evening meeting: 6:00-8:00   
    34.6%    9
Evening meeting: 6:30-8:00   
    46.2%    12
Hide Responses    2

Social Media and Online Presence Which of these platforms do you find most useful for HME? 
    A New User-Friendly Blog   
    81.5%    22
    11.1%    3
    40.7%    11
    14.8%    4
Show Responses   
    29.6%    8

What influences your decision to attend HME meetings?
     The topic   
    88.5%    23
The presenter   
    30.8%    8
The location (city)   
    65.4%    17
The location (restaurant)   
    15.4%    4
The cost   
    19.2%    5

When you do attend HME meetings, what reasons influence your decision?
      Networking with colleagues   
    76.0%    19
Sharing knowledge and experiences with the group   
    88.0%    22
Learning skills to apply to your workplace   
    96.0%    24