Monday, 21 December 2020

Sustainability through Communities of Practice

The Critical Contributions of Regular Peer Connection among Museum Professionals

by Tara Beck and Isabella Borrelli

The journey towards this blog entry began in February 2020 when two colleagues sat down to consider how their experience with communities of practice might contribute to the AMA Conference about museums and organizational sustainability. At the time, conversations primarily revolved around the value of communities of practice in combatting the institutional and professional silos common across Edmonton’s museum landscape (Edmonton Heritage Council’s Comprehensive Museum Strategy Report, 2012). Knowing the difficulty in a major city, one can only assume that our counterparts in rural Alberta face similar challenges.

A lot has happened since February which has encouraged us to broaden our considerations of the ways communities of practice can serve us in our work. Museums are at a pivotal point in their history. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many of them to shrink dramatically, and in some cases close. The unmasking of deep rooted institutional systemic racism has called on museums to meaningfully address their histories and make changes for their futures.

Addressing Large-Scale Challenges: Part 2

Ideate: Go Big and Wide. Get Creative!

by Kristen Cousineau and Christine Moreland

Congratulations! You have a ‘How Might We’ statement (HMW) that narrows down the big, unwieldy problem, to a manageable question that includes constraints and insights. Now, let’s talk about how to start answering that question: ideation.

Just joining us? Read Part 1 to discover how to create your guiding question, a ‘How Might We’ statement.

Ideating is often used as a synonym to brainstorming. However, brainstorming is traditionally spontaneous, and with ideating, we’re talking about a concrete, planned approach to creating new ideas. (We also prefer saying ideation because it differentiates our process from the negative experiences you may have had brainstorming in the past.) Ideation takes you a big step forward in solving your problem.

Addressing Large-Scale Challenges: Part 1

Defining a Path Forward: Narrowing Down a Complex Problem

The world we live and work in is rapidly changing, and while this is nothing new, the current crisis highlights the need for cultural institutions to be flexible, resilient, and creative in our approaches to these changes. But what happens when the changes are coming at us so quickly and the scope of them seems so overwhelming that they become paralyzing? How can we take the first step towards problem solving, sustainability, and continued relevance?

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Giving Tuesday: Making It Work for You

by Corrie Fortner, Senior Consultant
Global Philanthropic

What is Giving Tuesday? It is a global movement for giving and volunteering, a day that calls for charities, individuals, and companies to rally for a cause which “unites communities by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.” The eighth annual Giving Tuesday is December 1, 2020.

Before you start planning activities, it makes sense to ask a key question: what outcome do you hope to achieve by participating in Giving Tuesday? This will help guide both your strategy and the resources you will invest. Take into consideration a number of factors, including: 
  • What else is happening in your organization right now? 
  • What else is happening in your community for Giving Tuesday? 
  • Do you have a presence on social media that will help drive donations to your cause? 
  • Is this part of your annual campaign? 
  • Is this a strategy you can leverage to attain your goals? 

Those are a few starting points for your reflection or discussion about whether this day warrants your focus and energy. 

Monday, 16 November 2020

Working with Fort Calgary to Mentor a Junior Employee

Mentorship in Alberta Museums: Part 2

In hiring a Collections Officer at Fort Calgary, a goal of this new position was to provide a full-time opportunity for an emerging professional in the field. Recognizing that this person may need some help navigating all parts of the job, an experienced Collections Management professional, Gail Niinimaa, was engaged as a consultant to liaise with Fort Calgary’s President & CEO, Naomi Grattan, and work directly with the Collections Officer, Adrienne Dewsberry, as a mentor. In this post, they reflect on their experience with this project. 

Miss Part 1? Click here for Reflections on the AMA Mentorship Program.


Working with Fort Calgary to Mentor a Junior Employee

Gail Niinimaa, Niinimaa Enterprises Inc.

During the Alberta Museums Association (AMA) 2019 Conference, at the reception at the Royal Alberta Museum, I ran into Naomi Grattan, the new President & CEO of Fort Calgary. We chatted about what we were up to and she mentioned that she may like to pick my brain about their collection and some of their collections management issues. I suggested that I would be happy to be a consultant to a junior staff member and to work together with them, to share my knowledge and to help them along the way. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Reflections on the AMA Mentorship Program

Mentorship in Alberta Museums: Part 1

In July 2019, the Alberta Museums Association (AMA) launched the Mentorship Program, a flexible, self-directed program for Mentors and Mentees to share experiences, develop skills, and gain insights on the challenges, opportunities, and innovative practices in the museum community. Running from October 2019 to August 2020, the inaugural year of the Program was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, participants from the first cohort reflect on their experiences adapting the Program to meet their goals.  

Being a Mentor in the Second Half of Life

Gail Niinimaa, Niinimaa Enterprises Inc.

2020 is a year for me where I have definitely moved into the second half of my life. This is a time when I can give back and decide what impact I may want to leave on this world! In 1979, when I started at Glenbow and was given my pension documents to sign, the date of April 14, 2020, seemed very far into the future. I remember remarking to my colleague who was about 20 years older than me that there was no way that I would still be at the Glenbow in 2020! My prediction was fairly accurate – I did formally leave the Glenbow in 2008 after a combination of full-time and contract work over the years – but I have continued to be an occasional consultant for them in the last 12 years, the most recently being in March 2020 right before COVID-19 shut down the world. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

AMA Celebrates Herman Yellow Old Woman, Recipient of the 2020 Lieutenant Governor's Award

Congratulations to Herman Yellow Old Woman, recipient of the 2020 Lieutenant Governor’s Award! This Award recognizes Herman’s instrumental role in championing the rights of Indigenous communities to represent themselves and to have a voice in creating and shaping museum spaces. 

Herman Yellow Old Woman is presented with the 2020 Lieutenant Governor's Award. 

In selecting Herman for this Award, the AMA Board of Directors recognizes his spirit of giving and important role in establishing best practices for the Alberta museum community. Herman’s achievements at a provincial, national, and international level have made an exceptional impact and contribution to Alberta’s museum community.

Among these achievements, Herman was a key member of the committee behind Glenbow’s Nitsitapiisinni Gallery, created to reflect the Blackfoot worldview. The Gallery has been internationally recognized as one of the first exhibits told from an Indigenous perspective and is the epitome of the reconciliation and healing museums are now striving for.

One of Herman’s most impactful contributions to the museum sector has been his fight for the repatriation of Chief Crowfoot’s regalia from The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, UK, an effort that began over a decade ago. Alongside his colleagues at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, Herman worked tirelessly to educate both the public and Exeter City Council about the importance of Blackfoot Cultural Patrimony, and encouraged them to see clothing not as objects or artifacts but as living beings – ancestors who, upon their return to their people, have the ability to help heal the harms done by the colonial legacy of museums. This year, the hard work paid off when Exeter agreed that Crowfoot should be returned to the Siksika Nation. Said Mr. Yellow Old Woman: “I feel like we're bringing his spirit home.”

Herman was instrumental in the development of the First Nations Sacred Ceremonial Objects Repatriation Act (FNSCORA), and the repatriation of over 260 sacred and ceremonial objects from Glenbow’s collections and many more from other museum collections. He has cared for museum collections worldwide by conducting ceremony, visiting and caring for sacred bundles and the ancestors residing in museums in Canada and internationally.

Herman has left an indelible mark on Alberta’s museum sector. His contributions are a gift to future generations, not only for the Blackfoot, but for museum professionals navigating the changing role of museums in society and the necessary work of reconciliation. 

Congratulations, Herman!