Friday, 3 May 2013

A Story of Museum's Model Collection, a Guild and a Community Success - Part 1

Lynn-Marie Richard, Registrar, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Part 1 of 3
The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have.- Is it possible these words of Leonard Nimoy, aka Dr. Spock, refer to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic?  Sure, it may be a mere coincidence, but those words encapsulate the chronology of events about our ship model collection that I’d like to share with you. 
I recently presented this story at the International Registrars Conference in Scotland in the late fall of 2012, but there’s a lot of value and maybe inspiration in this project that I’d like to share with others. Here’s how it began back in 2000.
We encountered a bit of a ‘bump’ with our ship model collection. With over 700 models, this was the fastest growing part of our collection, but had been neglected for years because the only staff model maker retired in the early nineties. The museum was not in a position to hire anyone. So,  what do we do?  We had models needing repair and no human or financial resources to get work done!

 1) Another model donation -  the SS Belle Isle, Artifact M97.38.1

Well ... we work at a museum; we are creative and resourceful so we put our heads together and eureka!  Why not approach the local Maritime Ship Modelers Guild and see if they are interested in a little teamwork? We were familiar with this group because we hosted their annual showcase: a weekend long open-house that presents up to 350 high quality models.  So we met and chatted. The outcome: they agreed to help us and we decided it was worth doing a’ test run’ for one year.  
2) Maritime Ship Modelers Guild volunteers showing their work
We were reluctant to spend a lot of money and resources on this because we did not know if it would work. But, we proceeded. We set up volunteer teams to work Monday thru Friday, we developed and implemented a training workshop so they would know the protocol for working on museum artifacts and we built them a small work shop on the 1st floor so visitors could watch them work ... and then we put them to work! 

3) The Volunteers beside their brand new shop, 2001

It seemed that time flew by and and the ‘test’ year of this partnership was behind us! It was a success…….. so we continued.  In fact, things were going so well for everyone involved that after a few years, two of the model volunteers approached the museum with a proposition. They wanted to restore the FRANCONIA model. What was the Franconia?  Only the largest model we had in our collection at that time and one of the largest ship models in Canada!  Stayed tuned to hear more about this project and the road block we had to get around.

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