All small museums and historic sites in Canada should strive to receive and maintain provincial eligibility for a range of lucrative government funding. To become eligible a museum must comply with a range of provincially-established minimum targets.
The Standards for Community Museums in Ontario are based on standards in the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). While other provinces may have slightly different eligibility criteria, the Ontario standards are a sound guide for best practices everywhere. Scroll down this list for summaries in ten categories, and click for a link to the full description.
■ Governance “Good governance and demonstrated public accountability are necessary for the museum to operate as a viable not-for-profit organisation. The museum is governed by a publicly accountable body that follows a clearly defined mission and goals, and maintains openness in its decisions and operations.”
■ Finance “The museum demonstrates that it is a fiscally responsible public institution. The governing body and the museum follow predetermined policies and procedures to achieve this.”
■ Collections “The artifacts in the museum’s collection are a tangible representation of the community’s heritage, and to retain their informational and historical value they must be properly cared for and documented. The museum will demonstrate its stewardship and facilitate access to collections and the information they hold by maintaining a well organized, managed and documented collection.”
■ Exhibition “The museum’s exhibits provide an important link between the community and its heritage. In the planning and presentation of exhibitions, the museum will strive for accuracy of information, relevance to the community, effective communication, opportunities for learning, and the safe display of artifacts.”
■ Interpretation & Education “Interpretation and education programs provide an opportunity for the community to interact more closely with the museum’s collections and information. They also complement other sources of learning in the community, both formal and informal. Through its education programs, the museum reaches audiences of all ages, interests and abilities, and serves as a resource for its communities.”
■ Research “Research is an ongoing activity in the museum. Through well-researched exhibits, interpretation, publications and educational programming the museum continually adds to the knowledge, self-discovery and enjoyment of the community. In addition to accommodating staff researchers, the museum has a responsibility to assist outside researchers.”
■ Conservation “The museum has a responsibility to protect and preserve the collection entrusted to its care, so that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy and learn from it. The museum will demonstrate its stewardship of the collection by following procedures that ensure the long-term preservation of the collection.”
■ Physical Plant “The museum’s buildings and grounds must provide a safe and functional environment for visitors, staff, the collection and associated activities. The achievement of this objective will be balanced with the need to preserve the integrity of heritage buildings as artifacts themselves, as well as archaeological resources present on the property.”
■ Community “A community’s heritage is part of its identity. As a steward of the community’s heritage, the museum is actively engaged in the community and responsive to its needs. The museum is accessible and relevant, and draws support from its community.”
■ Human Resources “A museum’s ability to fulfil its purpose depends to a large degree on the professionalism and capabilities of its staff.6 The museum is better able to meet its mandate and carry out its activities by recruiting qualified staff and providing ongoing training opportunities. As an employer, the museum is concerned with the safety, security, well being and continued motivation of the people working for it.”
The Ontario Historical Society provides a good webinar introduction to the provincial funding process here. While it is hard to get accurate numbers it seems that in Ontario some 150 institutions are currently receiving funding via the Community Museums Operating Grant (CMOG) and related programs. (Application information here.) To be eligible for ongoing provincial funding, heritage institutions are not simply required to keep pace with existing standards; they must also continually improve in order to meet evolving expectations and to compete with other institutions submitting applications for funding.
How We Can Help
With the right guidance and support, even the most modest historic sites and collections can remain eligible for ongoing support from many sources, including many levels of government. While the sheer number of provincial funding requirements may at first seem daunting, we can systematically address your institutional capacities in all target areas with our tailored assessment process.
You may be able to achieve provincial targets in some of the ten categories listed above with minimal outside support. For instance with the right people on your board the provincial standards for governance, finance and human resources can likely be established by professionals in your community. If you need help in developing such provincially-mandated administrative tools as a statement of purpose, rules of governance, financial reports and an HR management policy, we can certainly help set you on the path to self-reliance.
Our core activity is providing specialized conservation, curatorial and community engagement services. Our environmental monitoring services provides you with affordable, around-the-clock professional-grade monitoring and reporting of temperature and relative humidity using the latest data-logging technology. You simply mail us the data-loggers every three months, and we send you beautifully tabulated results, authorized by a professional conservator and ready to hand up to the province or other funding organizations.
We also provide hard-to-find conservation services as well as artifact clinics and workshops that help you to meet provincial targets for training and community engagement. As museum professionals with decades of combined experience in curating, conservation and administration we can also help you meet and exceed the provincial targets for collections, exhibition, interpretation / education, research, conservation, and the physical plant.
From here …
Feel free to contact us if you’d like more information on any of these services,
For more on our assessment services click here. Use the menu at the top of the page to navigate the rest of this site.