Friday, December 10, 2010

What We Did On December 10th

We're done!

On December 10th, we all met in the conservation lab to see how our banners turned out (there was a class in the shop lab).  Kyle and Sarah Anne set them up at the back of the conservation lab.  We inspected them, and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.  We then proceeded to take lots of pictures of the banners and our group.  A representative from the Mill of Kintail came by and picked up our banners for a special event that they had on December 11th called a Kintail Country Christmas.

The five final banners.

Kyle and Sarah Emily inspect the finished product.

The creators (from left to right): Sarah Emily, Theola, Michelle, Sarah Anne, Kyle

Our group with our instructor, Mike Wheatley.

What We Did On December 8th

We met at 10 am to finish the last parts of the project.  Our first order of business was getting the promotional bookmarks printed.  Kyle arrived late because he had gone to Staples to confirm about pricing, sizing and document type with concern to the bookmarks.  When he arrived, he informed us that the first clerk he had spoken to back in October had lied to him and that Staples did not do custom bookmark printing – we needed to use their templates.  So, we spent the next hour panicking about how we would get our nicely designed bookmarks printed.  Sarah Emily came up with a printing place in Brockville that her museum uses to get promotional material done.  Michelle called and left a message, but by noon, they still had not called us back.  Kyle and Michelle checked out the Printshop at our college.  To our amazement, they did do custom printed bookmarks!  We were then able to calm down and get other small projects done.

Sarah Emily finalized all the details on the banners, such as sizing and placing the pictures.  She then handed each one off on a USB key to Kyle as she finished.  Kyle then sent them to print one by one.  We printed "The Artist" banner first.  It took almost an hour to print!  But, it did look really good when it did finally print.

Printing "The Artist" banner.

Finished "The Artist" banner.  (In photo: Sarah Anne and Kyle's hands)

Michelle worked on the final budget and the final storyline for our exhibit.  She also formatted and put together the exhibit brief during this time.  Theola worked on the photo and quick facts slideshow for the digital frame, and Sarah Anne helped while also taking pictures of the printing banner.  Theola also showed us the exhibit layout she had created.  It showed how the banners should be set up (the order), where they would go in relation to the table and where all the items would go on the table, such the activity and bookmarks.

By the time the first banner printed, our next class has started.  Kyle and Sarah Emily offered to stay and keep printing banners.  By the time our other class had ended at 7 pm, only three more banners had printed.  Kyle and Michelle then offered to come in the next evening, print the final banner, laminate them all and install them all inside the banner stands with the help of our instructor Mike Wheatley.

"The Mill of Kintail" banner after it had been laminated.

To keep them safe, Kyle rolled the banners until they could be installed in the banner stands.

On Wednesday night, Sarah Anne posted all the blog entries that she had written for the group on Monday.  Also, she rewrote the Wikipedia article by removing incorrect information as well as adding more detailed information.  She posted the new article later on in the week.

Original article that was posted on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

What We Did On December 1, 2010

We met again at 9 am.  Theola, Sarah Anne and Michelle began the day by editing Sarah Emily’s curatorial paper.  Sarah Emily worked on editing and cropping the photographs for the banners that we took last week at the Mill.  Kyle arrived a quarter of the way through the editing process, and joined us in our “proper use of the comma” debate.  The editing process took approximately two hours to go through eleven pages because of the way we wanted to word things as well as our arguing over the “comma.”  We had some problems and misunderstandings while editing, but were able to overcome these problems by compromising and keeping the lines of communication open.

After this, we broke individually to work on the smaller things we needed to complete by next week.  Michelle went over the final budget to make sure all our materials were accounted for, Sarah Anne worked on the blog entries, and Theola and Kyle worked on the acrylic mount for the medallion.  Their first attempt failed when they heated the acrylic to bend it.  They had worked hard cutting the acrylic by hand, water sanding it then using heat to bend it, only to have the acrylic warp.  Both Kyle and Theola made the decision to come in on Monday to redo the mount.  Our instructor also laminated our sample panels to test their durability – they work!

At the end of the class, Michelle decided she would work on the Facebook and blog manuals at home, and Sarah Anne would also work on the blog and Wikipedia entries, as well as the educational program manual at home.

Kyle measuring the medallion.

Kyle cutting the acrylic on the band saw.

Kyle sanding the edges of the acrylic.

The materials used to sand the acrylic edges.

Bending the acrylic using heat.

Shaping the heated acrylic.

Heating a different section of the acrylic.

Bending the heated ledge to the shape of the medallion.

Theola adhering the ledge to the base using Methyl Chloride.

Materials used to adhere the two pieces of acrylic together.

The finished acrylic mount.

What We Did On November 24, 2010

On November 24th, we were all supposed to meet with both Stephanie and Suzanne at the Mill of Kintail again, but Michelle was sick.  Theola, Kyle, and the Sarah’s wanted to get better quality photographs of the sculptures we would be using in the banners, as well as more information on McKenzie and some original photos of himself as a soldier, artist, teacher and doctor.  Theola, Kyle and Sarah Anne got better photos of “The Call,” “The Sprinter” and the woman with the laurel wreath.  Sarah Emily went with Stephanie to the gatehouse to find the information and the original photographs.

Sarah Anne taking photos of the "masks," while Theola looks on.

Photo of the Mill all dressed up for Christmas.

Suzanne and Stephanie accompanied our group back to the college to observe our work.  At this point, Michelle was feeling better and came to class.  Stephanie and Suzanne looked at our banner concept.  We discussed what we had now decided what to do with regards to our bookmarks, Facebook, Wikipedia and blog pages.  They both seemed very pleased with what we were accomplishing.  While Stephanie and Suzanne went to lunch, Sarah Emily madly rushed to scan all the original photos that she was given before Stephanie and Suzanne came back from lunch.

Talking with Stephanie (from left to right): Kyle, Sarah Anne, Sarah Emily, Theola, Stephanie and Michelle.

Inspecting the sample banners (from left to right): Kyle, Sarah Anne, Sarah Emily and Theola.

Michelle, Kyle and Sarah Anne worked on editing the wording for the banners.  After this, Theola and Kyle started working on the acrylic mount for the medallion from the gift shop.  Michelle and I helped Sarah Emily put the scanned photos into the banner and fix the font on the banners.

Sarah Emily cleaning up the original photos of McKenzie we got from Stephanie.

What We Did On November 17, 2010

Our group met at Tim Horton’s at 9 am to go shopping for our exhibit materials.  Kyle drove us to Wal-Mart, Dollarama and Staples to put our items on hold for our instructor, Mike Wheatley, to purchase later in the day.  We bought the container that all the materials would go in when Stephanie travelled, the cookie cutter for the craft, as well as paint brushes and paint.  We also bought dividers and a binder for the curatorial essay.

Shopping at Wal-Mart: Michelle, Sarah Emily and Kyle are testing substitutes for a tablecloth.

When we got back from shopping, we each worked on different projects.  Sarah Emily worked on completing the banners and the bookmarks.  Theola, Kyle, Michelle and Sarah Anne worked on deciding which information to put in the banners and the bookmarks, and then writing that information up.  We used the research that Sarah Emily had gotten from the hard-to-obtain library books the night before.

During project time, our group got into two more petty arguments: (1) Michelle did not want to walk to our next class’ field trip in the rain.  Michelle wanted Kyle to park at the Rideau Center, not the streets near Laurier, in order to diminish the amount of time spent outside walking in the rain.  Kyle did not want to pay for parking.  Sarah Anne didn’t really want to walk in the rain either, but that was because she was sick.  Theola and Sarah Emily didn’t care either way.  We bribed Kyle into parking at the Rideau Center by offering to pay for parking.  (2) Theola does not like Apple computers, and Sarah Anne does.  There was an argument, Sarah Emily supported Theola and Kyle supported Sarah Anne.  Michelle wisely decided to stay out of it.  Our group concluded that we always seem to have petty arguments that have nothing to do with the actual project whenever it rains.

What We Did On November 10, 2010

We started out the day by being shown the banner stands we would be using by our instructor, Mike Wheatley.  We liked them because they were more substantial and had two feet instead of one, so they wouldn’t blow over in the wind if placed outside.  We put in an order for five.

We then put together a more concrete budget and broke off into groups to do our work.  Sarah Emily recreated our banner layouts in Illustrator (we had originally done them in Photoshop), and Michelle, Theola and Sarah Anne concentrated on creating the blog.  We wrote the first entry together, then emailed Stephanie about the blog, and set up a meeting to go over what we had accomplished for December 1st.  Kyle was in Washington, D.C. that week, but he would have lots of work waiting for him when he returned.

The Library Book Debacle

In our schedule, we had originally wanted the curatorial paper researched, written and edited by November 10th; however, we encountered some problems with obtaining research.  Sarah Emily had requested several books on R. Tait McKenzie from the Ottawa Public Library at the beginning of October, but these had already been taken out by another library patron.  The books were supposed to have been returned by the end of October, but when our deadline for the curatorial paper had passed and the books had still not been returned, we became suspicious.  Since McKenzie was not a topic that everyone in Ottawa was keen on researching, we concluded that it must be someone else in our program.  We brainstormed who it could be, and Michelle decided to solve the problem by making an announcement to the class.  We found that a group in another AMS class had taken these books out for their project, and was incurring library fines because they still needed the books for research.  Sarah Emily advised one member in that other group about sharing common resources, such as library books, and reminded them that our project for our class was worth 100% of our grade.  After some negotiation, they agreed to return the books to the library that very day.  Sarah Emily got the books the next morning, and madly did the research on McKenzie, and wrote the curatorial paper overnight!  We were very grateful to her, and could then write all the text for our banners and bookmarks, as well as rewrite the Wikipedia article.  

What We Did On November 3, 2010

We began our meeting by discussing pricing, especially the Crayola clay and sculpting tools we would be using in the outreach exhibit, the digital frame, bookmarks and banner stands.  We also took a look at everyone’s clay recipes, of which only one worked.  Sarah Emily’s clay was not useable, as it did not hold its shape for more than five seconds before turning back into a liquid, same with Kyle’s.  Theola’s was squishy like gummy candy.  Sarah Anne’s recipe worked the best, so it was decided that would be the recipe we would base the bookmark activity on.

Samples of the clay recipes we tested (from left to right): Theola's, Sarah Emily's, and Sarah Anne's

Detailed photo of Sarah Emily's clay recipe.

Video of Sarah Emily's "weird" clay.

From noon onwards, we worked on the banner designs and colour schemes.  Theola’s, Michelle’s and Sarah Emily’s ideas for the banner layout were combined with some input from Kyle.  The group went with Sarah Anne’s suggestion for the colour scheme: pulling the colours from the photos we took of the Mill and surrounding area – the stone colour of the wall’s, the green of the doors, the blue sky, the autumn leaves, etc.  Therefore, the banner design was created collectively using everyone’s input.

Sarah Emily and Theola working on the banner design.

Kyle reading out colour ID numbers from the photos of the Mill.

We colour-matched Theola's sweater for the subtitle on "The Athlete" banner.

Samples of the five banners we created (from left to right): "The Doctor," "The Athlete," "The Mill of Kintail," "The Soldier," and "The Artist."

What We Did On October 27, 2010

Our group meeting started out with a thirty minute telephone meeting at 11 am with Suzanne McFarlane, Communications Coordinator for the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority and Stephanie’s supervisor.  We told her of our plans to create a blog on, which would chronicle how our exhibit would come together using videos and photos.  Our group had also planned to update the R. Tait McKenzie entry on Wikipedia with more Canadian content – we would use the information from our curatorial paper and add a link to our blog on Wikipedia.  Another idea we related to Suzanne was about creating a Facebook page for our exhibit and the Mill of Kintail in general, which would include information on the museum, our exhibit and R. Tait McKenzie.  The pamphlets would direct people to this site, and the site would direct visitors to the Wikipedia article and the blog.  During the telephone meeting, Suzanne said we would have to get either her or Stephanie’s approval before we posted any text, videos or photos on either the Wiki, blog or Facebook page.  Theola also found out during the telephone meeting that we did not need to make a replica of the Joy of Effort medallion, as the Mill sells them in the gift shop.

Sample of the Joy of Effort medallion on sale in the gift shop.

For about an hour and a half after the phone call, we did a number of little things.  Kyle made a Gmail account for our blog and Facebook page, so we did not need to have access to the museum’s email.  We all did some pricing for the banners, pamphlets and bookmarks.  We also decided how we would go about testing the clay recipe for the interpretive craft the following week.  We decided that each of us would take a clay recipe and bring in the results, taking notes on how much it cost us to make, how much time it took to make and dry, how easy the recipe was to follow, and how many medallions they would make.

Our group then spent the next two and a half hours trying to fill out the exhibit worksheets.  Most of the fields in the worksheets did not pertain to our exhibit because it is not a traditional exhibit.  An outreach exhibit is more about advertising and enticing people to visit the museum.

During the next week, Stephanie emailed us to tell us not to make the pamphlets.  Apparently, the Naismith and McKenzie museums will merge soon and the pamphlets will be changing in January to reflect that.  So, our group decided we would concentrate on making just bookmarks.  One side of the bookmark would display trivia on one of the four roles McKenzie played in his life, and the back side would have information on how to make the craft – a clay medallion decorated to show what gives the maker joy.  We needed something to cut from the budget anyway, so the decision to scrap the pamphlets actually worked out.

What We Did On October 20, 2010

On October 20th, we started with a group meeting about what everyone had accomplished on their own time during the week.  Michelle went over the emails that had been sent to everyone to confirm that the group was receiving them (our school’s email program has problems occasionally with sending and receiving email).

That morning, we all searched the internet together for pricing on banners and banner stands to determine whether it would be more cost-effective to fabricate them ourselves or just buy them.  After about an hour of this, we decided we were going to buy them.  We also discussed what we would need to have done by December 11th, the day Stephanie wanted the project to be done so she could showcase it at an important museum meeting.  We needed to have at least one banner designed and printed and the curatorial paper completed by December 11th.  The actual project for our class, however, was not due until December 15th.

In order to have all these things by December 11th, we decided to come up with a weekly schedule.  We also wrote the rough budget, rubric and Team Contract for our project.  During this time, our group encountered our first argument… over the proper use of Latin.

What We Did On October 13, 2010

At 10 am on October 13th, our group visited the R. Tait McKenzie Memorial Museum at the Mill of Kintail in Almonte, Ontario to get a better understanding of the McKenzie exhibit because it was the base concept for the outreach exhibit in which we were responsible for developing, as well as to meet with the curator, Stephanie Kolsters.  When we arrived, Stephanie gave us a brief history of the building’s owners, as well as the fact it could possibly be haunted.

Photograph of the Mill at the time of our visit.

Once inside, we were taken directly to the third floor where McKenzie’s sculptures are on display.  Our group asked Stephanie a variety of questions about what was expected from us, and if she had any ideas about what she wanted in the project, what type of audience she wanted to aim for, etc.  We all took notes.  Stephanie also told our group that a local newspaper was interested in our project and wanted to interview us.  Lastly, Stephanie went around the room and pointed out the more well-known works of art.

Photograph of the Joy of Effort Medallion - one of McKenzie's more well-known works.

At this point, Stephanie took Kyle, Theola and Sarah Rathwell downstairs.  Sarah Anne and Michelle stayed on the third floor to take lots of photos of the art work and text panels.  After about thirty minutes, Sarah Anne and Michelle met up with the others, and Stephanie took a nice group photo of us in front of the Naismith Rock – well, it would have been a nice photo if Michelle hadn’t blinked!  Sarah Anne took more photographs of the Mill from outside, as well as some photos of the stream and fall foliage surrounding the Mill.

Group Photo (from left to right): Sarah Anne (kneeling), Michelle, Sarah Emily, Theola and Kyle.

Once back at the gatehouse, we discussed different aspects of the project in more detail.  Stephanie made clear just how much she liked the pods (i.e. she doesn’t because they are awkward), and she prefers the 6-sided pamphlet to the 2-sided bookmark.  We were also taken down to the collections room where we were shown the original moulds that McKenzie used for his medallions.  Stephanie also gave each of us our own Mill of Kintail mug.  Around noon, we thanked Stephanie for showing our group around the site, and left.

Sarah Anne's Mill of Kintail mug - also available at the gift shop!

Our group then went for lunch, where we discussed how we were going to design the project, the craft/activity and the promotional material.  During this meeting, we also established our roles and what exactly we would be doing.  We also established that we would design a booth with five banners (one detailing each aspect of McKenzie’s life: Doctor, Athlete, Soldier, Artist and one general one about his time at the Mill), a replica of the Joy of Effort medallion, a craft making medallions, pamphlets and possibly bookmarks with the recipe for the craft on one side.  During this meeting, Kyle also suggested a great title for our exhibit: “R. Tait McKenzie: Modern Renaissance Man.”

Visit the official website of the Mill of Kintail - click here!

A Note on Exhibition Duties

For our project, each of us were to be assigned specific roles or duties within our group.  As Exhibit Designer and Preparator, Kyle was in charge of choosing the exhibit furniture and display mounts and their fabrication.  As Exhibit Conservator and Registrar, Theola was in charge of choosing appropriate artifacts for our exhibit and their appropriate display.  She would also be responsible for any condition reports that needed to be written for the artifacts, as well as their storage, packing and transportation.  As our group got deeper and deeper into our project, we concluded that we were not using any artifacts, so Theola became the caretaker of the replica we were using instead.  Sarah Anne was responsible for developing the educational programming as the Curator of Education.  Michelle was responsible for deadlines, keeping our group in touch with the museum, developing the Facebook, Wikipedia and Blog pages, and coming up with promotional material (in our group’s case, bookmarks), as the Exhibit Public Relations Officer.  Sarah Emily was in charge of  research and the curatorial essay, as well as obtaining photographs to be used in our exhibit.  Because our exhibit is an outreach exhibit, the duties assigned to each role were small but precise, and we often helped each other get aspects of our roles done on time.  Everyone was responsible for helping to design the banners and bookmarks and for writing the text that would go on each.

What We Did On October 6, 2010

On October 6th, the Exhibit Planning and Developing instructor assigned the group members and gave each group the project details.  The R. Tait McKenzie Outreach Exhibit was assigned to Kyle Allen, Theola Ally, Sarah Anne Craymer, Michelle McMillan and Sarah Emily Rathwell.  Our group was very lucky, as each member was an extremely organized and motivated person. 

Once in our group, we went over the project description.  We were to create an outreach exhibit promoting the R. Tait McKenzie Memorial Museum.  It was to include promotional materials and educational programming.  We established team project roles based on our personal interests and career goals: Kyle was chosen to be our Exhibit Designer and Preparator; Theola became our Exhibit Conservator and Registrar; Sarah Anne wanted to be the Curator of Education; Michelle volunteered to be the Exhibit Public Relations Officer; and, Sarah Emily preferred the role of Exhibit Curator.  We all agreed that everyone should be involved in creating and maintaining the budget.  In terms of project managers, our team elected two: Sarah Anne and Michelle.  Sarah Anne would manage the Facebook page and keep everyone up-to-date with messages over Facebook; Michelle would manage the wiki page on our school’s course management system, known as Blackboard, as well as creating the schedules that our team would follow from week to week.

As a group, we brainstormed ideas for an outreach exhibit.  Sarah Emily came up with the idea to use a pod because it would be easy to put up and take down.  A pod is a pop up display unit or a free standing portable display system that uses magnets, clips or bands to attach panels to a collapsible metal frame.  Another idea floating around was to just get banner stands and make banners.  From the description the museum gave us, it also sounded as though they wanted a craft or activity that they could do at the booth.

Photograph of R. Tait McKenzie

Since no one in the group had a clear understanding of exactly who R. Tait McKenzie was, we looked up his bio on Wikipedia, then googled some images of his artwork.  We all agreed we would need to visit the R. Tait McKenzie Memorial Museum soon, as the information gathered from the internet was scant.  Collectively, we wrote an email to Stephanie Kolsters, museum manager and curator at the Mill of Kintail, to establish a meeting with her and visit the museum at 10 am on Wednesday, October 13.  We looked up the directions to the Mill, and decided on a time and place that we would meet to drive to the museum together.

To prepare for our visit to the Mill, we each made up a set of questions to ask Stephanie.  We then emailed our questions to her so she could prepare for our visit.  By this time, Stephanie had emailed us back with a confirmation, and our team spent the last hour of class sharing stories and experiences, not all of them museum related.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Who is R. Tait McKenzie?

Welcome to the design process of a museum outreach exhibit! This blog will take you on a tour behind-the-scenes to demonstrate the processes involved in creating a small travelling outreach exhibit. The purpose of this exhibit is to offer the visitor a sneak-peek of the various facets of Robert Tait McKenzie's Life and experiences including the Mill of Kintail, medicine, athletics, art and military/boy scout involvment. The goal of this exhibit is to introduce potential visitors to a prominent Canadian artist of international renown; and inspire them to visit the museum and site. Upon completion, this exhibit will displayed at various venues in the Ottawa Valley and Lanark County.

Using theories and practical experiences acquired over the last two years in the AMS program at Algonquin College, this semester-long project is a part of the Plan & Develop Educational Exhibitions class. The AMS program "provides students with a sound background in museum work and the technical areas common to all museums including collections management, exhibit preparation, conservation, educational programming, and museum management". The skills and knowledge we have aquired thus far will be put to the test in the development and fabrication of the R. Tait McKenzie: Modern Renaissance Man Outreach Exhibit.

Please follow us on our blog as we explain our creative process and demonstrate our techiques through video, images, and detailed posts.