Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Work Week #2 - Banting House National Historic Site

Week #2 started a day early for me. I ended up working on my first Monday off (let's be honest, I have zero other commitments for the time being). I'm really glad I did though! There was a bus tour coming in all the way from Kingston. One of the guests sits on our National Board, so it was kind of a big deal. Also in attendance on this tour was Frederick Banting's great niece! I took a lesson in museum/donor relations on that day. Who gets the ultimate authority? With whom do these artifacts belong? Museums really are sometimes at the mercy of the donors and thus must keep a decent relationship - especially with descendents who are still around. My boss couldn't get to me in time to warn me - so here I was taking her through the house and rambling off facts that she most definitely knew already.

Tuesday, I had the honor of experiencing a board meeting - and not only that, but I'm now apparently sitting on the Committee for two different fund raising/special events: Banting and Friends and the 90th Anniversary celebration. I've never worked in an office setting before. I've never sat on a board. I've never participated in a conference call. It was really interesting and exciting (not to mention, intimidating) to experience the business side of working in a museum.

We are launching a 5 million dollar campaign for renovations and it's the committee's job to seek out potential partners. Timing couldn't be better because we're working with three years of major anniversaries that we can capitalize on - but I suppose we need experts in the fields of marketing and business in order to make all of this happen. The most support I can offer is providing a networking presence online. This is where my task of setting up a blog comes into play. I've also been spending a lot of time researching the Twitter (follow me) community in order to find potential contacts and to see how other museums and historic sites are putting themselves out there.

I spent almost all day Wednesday dedicated to online marketing research. I found some pretty interesting and exciting stuff. First of all, there's http://museumblogs.org/about, which is a directory of museum-related bloggers - and also connected to a ton of other valuable resources such as podcasts, online video and exhibit editors, and a company that creates multi-touch, computer-based interactives for educational organizations (Ideum).

Also, I've been thinking of making a proposal for a foursquare account(a location-based social networking site and software for mobile devices that is also a game). This will allow visitors to "check in" when they visit our museum and then keep track of frequency, rewards, visitor comments, tips, etc. via text messages, twitter, and facebook. I'm planning on looking into the details of becoming a registered site.

How fun would it be to start a Twitter account for Fred Banting?! If he were still around, I'm almost certain he'd be an avid micro-blogger - plus, I've got access to daily diaries and memoirs, etc. I think it would be a good online presence.

My day was interrupted by a suprise tour group. They were from a "Young Men with Special Needs" facility in London. I scrambled to remember all of my special education training from undergrad...and stressful though it was, with guys wandering off the tour and wanting to test the antique medical instruments, it turned out to be the most fun tour I've done so far! The guys were really interested in what I had to say, had questions about absolutely EVERYTHING in the house, and were so appreciative of my time and energy! It was an extremely rewarding experience that put a smile on my face for the rest of the week...

The other big project that I've started turning wheels on is the PastPerfect accessioning process. It's a slightly newer version than the one I've worked with before, but I'm starting to master it quite quickly (or maybe I just feel that way because I'm the only one here who's even vaguely famililar with it). It's a far more involved process than the one I went through at the Metras Museum, as we've got a lot more information, documentation, and legal issues with the CDA Banting collection, so it's moving along quite slowly.

But, I suppose that's what the rest of the summer is for! Though I can hardly believe two weeks have already gone by!


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