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The Wandering Museum Consultant…

Karolina (L) and Katie (R) at Dublin Museum Hunt
Karolina (L) and Katie (R) at Dublin Museum Hunt

Hello. I’m Katie Urban, MOA’s Learning Coordinator. It has been two months since I started my leave of absence from the Museum of Ontario Archaeology and started out on my equal parts crazy and awesome Wandering Museum Consultant project. The MOA has asked me to write a blog post to let everyone know what I have been up to and what I am still looking forward to in the next few weeks before I head back home in August.

So, what exactly is the Wandering Museum Consultant? Basically I am travelling around the UK and Ireland; spending time at host museums, volunteering and offering volunteer consulting when I can. In short I am engaging in professional exchanges and professional development, with an aim to building my international experience and consulting skills, as well as broadening my knowledge of museum practices through exposure to new and differing methods.

At the moment I am in sitting in a hotel room in Macclesfield, Cheshire – just south of Manchester. I spent Thursday and Friday at the Macclesfield Silk Museum. Exploring the history of silk production in a small industrialised English city, and conversing on the challenges the museums face operating within a very tight budget.

Over the past two months I have also spent time at the Vindolanda Roman Fort site in Northumberland participating in their volunteer archaeological excavations.

Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum
Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum

Followed by two weeks in Dublin, where myself and my host Karolina, organized and held a Museum photographic scavenger hunt, the Dublin Museum Hunt throughout Dublin’s museums to raise money for the mental health charity, Aware. I also spent time at the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio in the small harbour town of Howth, just outside Dublin. The radio museum is an eclectic group of radio and communications enthusiasts who are trying to single handily collect the entire history of communications into a tiny siege tower.

Denny Abbey
Denny Abbey

My next museum stop was the Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum located in the now mostly drained fenland area north of Cambridge. This museum was rather perfect for me as I ended up working with archaeological collections from the Abbey, expanding my knowledge of medieval English pottery, as well as working with the Education Officer.

I then spent three days in the beautiful Lake District at the Armitt Museum, Galleries and Archive in Ambleside. While there I focused on helping the Curator, Deborah, come up with a variety of new revenue building ideas in an area where school programming is not a big source of funds (there are only 5 local schools). A couple of my ideas are being put into practice soon, I am told.

Tomorrow I am heading north again, back to the north of Cumbria to Carlisle where I will be spending a three days at the Tullie House Museum, followed by the Silloth Toy Soldier Museum to round out the week.

You can follow all my adventures this summer and learn more about each museum and my work at each on my blog www.wanderingmuseumconsultant.com.

I will see everyone in September 2014 when I return!

Staff Only: Behind Scenes Part 1

“STAFF ONLY”:  Behind the Scenes at MOA Part 1

I am often amazed, when I sit back and think about it, how much goes on behind the scenes at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. 

museumiceberg

 I like to compare museums to icebergs – in that what you see when you visit is just a tiny part of what is actually happening.  From working with the collection, researching exhibits, planning programs and events to the things we rarely consider as “museum work” but are critical to any business, like marketing, managing the finances, fundraising, and health and safety.  There is a lot happening at MOA that we want to share.

This blog series opens the “Staff Only” door to reveal what it takes to run a museum.  The planning, preparation, and work necessary to ensure we serve our community and, for us specifically, inspire the archaeologist in everyone.

Read more

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 5)

Wilfrid Jury’s Legacy

Wilfrid Jury was an important archaeologist in Ontario who helped us define and understand archaeological settlements across Ontario. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is one of many legacies Wilfrid Jury leaves behind. His excavations and collections provide a fundamental understanding of aboriginal and pioneer culture. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology’s collection holds Jury’s original scholarly articles, site reports, short stories, and photos chronicling his life as well as the large ethnographic and archaeological collection he accumulated over his lifetime. His goal was to preserve objects of past generations for future generations to come. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology continues his legacy by advancing the understanding of Ontario’s archaeological heritage through stewardship, research, and education.

summerschool

As well as curating the Museum of Indian Archaeology and Pioneer Life (now MOA) on Western’s campus (in June 1934), Wilf introduced Archaeology as a practice to Western. He taught an archaeology class and established field schools to give students hands on opportunities of learning at a number of sites he excavated through the years, a practice that continues to this day. Site reports, photos, and artifacts from these excavations are held in the Museum of Ontario Archaeology collections and are often referenced in current research.

Unveiling of Jury Drive
Unveiling of Jury Drive

Meanwhile, the City of London gave him the honor of having a public school named after him, Wilfrid Jury Public School (on Lawson Road in London) and he also was present at the unveiling of a street named after him, Jury Drive (Bayfield Ontario).

 Wilfrid Jury’s legacy continues to bring knowledge and understanding that stems from his own passion to “teach and disseminate a knowledge of earlier people to the public and especially young people” – Elsie’s Summary of Wilf’s Life.  He set the standard in Ontario Archaeology and changed archaeological perspectives which continually shape our understanding of past civilizations today.

Endangered Animals Camp

Here at the museum, we like to draw from the native cultures of Canada and emphasize the importance of respecting our environment. Kids learn how our actions can disturb the delicate balancing act of the natural world and the importance of protecting it. In the past few decades, scientists have observed a rapid loss of biodiversity, with extinction rates estimated to more than 1000 times the natural extinction rate. Through the activities we do during Endangered Animals Week at camp, we hope to instill awareness and a sense of empathy for the plight of the animals around the world.

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                Our trip across the globe starts in North America, the theme for Monday. We learn a lot of cool facts about polar bears, like how they slide on their belly to avoid breaking through thin ice (something there is a lot of with rapidly melting ice caps). The kids then get to make polar bear masks with cotton balls which are very fluffy and soft to touch! We also learn about bald eagles and make our very own. We do a scavenger hunt around the museum gallery where the campers get to identify and learn about other endangered animals of Canada. We finish off the last hour of camp when parents arrive by watching Ice Age!

On Tuesday we learn about the Amazon rainforest in South America. The campers get to make colourful leaping frogs and learn about indicator species. We also make rainforest dioramas that represent the different levels of the forest. Animal charades is another themed activity perfect for the museum theater. The campers get to have a lot of fun splashing around in the sun because Tuesday is also water day. The counselors also love to play trivia with the campers and it’s a great way to review the day.

Wednesday’s theme is endangered animals of Asia. After we learn about the animals we make paper bag tiger puppets. We also get to learn a lot about the adorable giant pandas of China. The campers also get to dig in the village site for artifacts that have been placed there just for them. Everyone gets to find something special and we have one of our archaeology interpreters explain where there artifact came from or what it was used for. We also get to play lots of outdoor games like capture the flag and dodge ball.


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Thursday we go all the way down to Australia! We learn about the whales and make whale origami. We watch videos about the Great Barrier Reef and make our very own woolly sea anemones. Komodo dragon and paper bowl turtles are some other craft options. Campers get to hike through the forest and sail Popsicle stick rafts on the stream. During the hike they also have a scavenger hunt to identify different plant and animals in the forest.

Friday is Safari Quest day which both counsellors and campers agree is the most fun day of the week. The counsellors all dress up as their favourite endangered animal and set up activities throughout the museum. Campers have to find the cheetah’s spots, the turtle’s eggs the bald eagle’s wigs. They have to traverse all the traps set up by the poachers (obstacle course) to get the rhino’s food and feed the panda. Friday’s main theme is Africa so we make gorilla masks and elephant ears. And that wraps up our wonderful, fun filled educational endangered animals week!

Soapstone Pendants

gorget
Gorget Approximately 300-1000 years old

Soapstone pendant making is a creative workshop offered at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology to compliment the understanding and appreciation for First Nation gorgets.

Gorgets are typically made from hard slate stone and are drilled to make into a necklace and personal ornamentation. They were made during leisure time as the slate takes a large amount of time and skill to shape (with an abrader/flat rock) and hand drill. Some even featured symbols and other markings.

During this 30 minute workshop, we have modified the tools but kept the traditional method the same. Instead of slate, students are each given a piece of soapstone, a soft rock which is easy to mould. Similar to the traditional method of creating a hole in the gorget, students can hand drill their own hole through their gorget by using an arrowhead attached to a wooden stick.

drill
drilling

Once a hole has been made, students sand the soapstone to a desired shape and smoothness and rub their piece with oil to allow for the soapstone colour to shine.

In the end of the workshop, students not only leave with their original gorgets, but also an understanding of First Nation skill development, creativity and resourcefulness.

soapstone pendant

Underwater Archaeology

Underwater Archaeology is one of the many hands-on workshops offered at Museum of Ontario Archaeology. This program explains how archaeologists use context and critical thinking while excavating in order to understand the site and to put together stories that artifacts may reveal about the culture of the site.

Underwater archaeology is more difficult than archaeology on land as you have to know how to dive, breathe under water, maneuver through dark or muddy waters, communicate to your team, avoid sharks (this is very important!), and write and record your findings while under water. You air tanks even limit the time you can spend excavating.

Instructions:

Underwater Archaeology

Each team member is given a task: documenting, holding a flashlight, removing the plastic cover, or being a general excavator.

The lights are turned off and participants explore their ‘shipwrecks’ in teams by flashlight. Each shipwreck is contained in a blue box filled with sand and covered by a plastic sheeting to simulate water.  Participants explore and uncover the artifacts left behind from their shipwreck. They must focus on drawing what they see; recording as much of what they can see before they “run out of diving time” and must resurface (AKA, the lights turn back on).

Participants then work together back at the lab to discuss their findings and answer questions that may reveal more about the shipwreck. Ie: What are the artifacts that have been found? What kind of shipwreck was it? How do all these artifacts work together? What can we conclude?

Excavations on other shipwrecks can be arranged to see if groups came to similar conclusions.  In the end, participants learn that archaeologists know what they know by analyzing the artifacts and archaeological sites for clues, much in the same way a detective would.

For more information on underwater archaeology, visit:

Save Ontario Shipwrecks or  see a video of Parks Canada Archaeologists

This blog has been based off of MOA’s Education Officer, Katie Urban’s Museum blog: http://newmuseumkat.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/underwater-archaeology-a-lesson-in-deduction/

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 4)

St Ignace II

St Ignace II 1960
St Ignace II 1960

St Ignace II was one of several Jesuit Mission sites in Huron- Wendat territories during the mid 1600’s. In March of 1649, the Huron-Wendat village and Jesuit mission were attacked and captured by Five Nations Iroquois. Jesuit missionaries Brebeuf and Lalement from the nearby St.Louis mission were captured and taken back to St Ignace II and killed.  Wintemberg previously conducted excavations at St. Ignace II in 1937 and 1938 and continued actively on the site until his untimely death in 1941. Excavations halted both due to Wintembergs death and World War II. However the Jesuits appealed to Sherwood Fox, Present of the University of Western Ontario, to continue excavations on site. In 1946, with the assistance of President Fox and Wintembergs notes, Wilf resumed excavations which uncovered a structure he interpreted as a Jesuit church or chapel. Wilf also undertook partial reconstruction of the site, inolving a frame of the longhouse and segments of the palisade. For Wilf’s efforts, he received a blessing from Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Penetanguishine

For over 20 years Wilf and Elsie put enormous effort in the excavation and reconstruction of the Penetanguishine Military and Naval establishments. Despite the extensive documentation in terms of archival research and archaeological data, Penetanguishine is one of the least understood. This may be in part from the lack of published reports. Today you may know this site as Discovery Harbour.

 

 


stmarie

St. Marie I

What began as a small excavation between four partially preserved stone bastions (Type of fortification) turned into a monumental discovery and one of the highlights of his career. During  fall 1947, workmen who previously worked with Wilf on St. Ignace II were partially restoring a stone bastion when they came across post moulds extending outwards. Father Lally, who was overseeing the site at the time contacted Wilf who wrote later that day;

“Little did I realize what the discovery meant nor did I realize

What the turn of events would lead to. Fate or fortune like the

Flip of a card was to place me in position to once again turn my studies

To the missionaries that as a boy I wanted to know more about.”

(Wilfrid Jury, Autobiography, 1972)

wilf_pope

For four years, Wilf and Elsie continued excavations on the site and completed extensive archival research about the site and its occupants. The site became an attraction, visited by thousands, and Wilf became nationally recognized. In December 1964, Pope Paul VI granted Wilf and Elsie audience and gave his blessing to the Ontario government and all that were involved in the excavation St. Marie I.  Today the site is recognized through the Sainte Marie among the Hurons Museum.

Behind the Scenes: Meet Kylie

My name is Kylie Kelly. I have been working as student assistant curator at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology since September 2013. I am fortunate that with my position I get to experience every aspect of the museum, from cataloguing artifacts, organizing exhibits, to assisting with the education programs. I am currently attending Western University for Classical and Medieval studies; I wish to pursue a career in Roman or Egyptian archaeology, specifically in museum and conservation, after I am done my undergrad. My passion for history is what initially drew me to work at the museum. I love everything old. Along with my love of history I am also of Native American descent, so working here has also given me a unique chance to see my own heritage and culture.

The project I am currently working on is cataloging the museums ethnographic collection into an online database. The artifacts I come across range from ancient arrowheads from 5000 BCE, to Austrian Smoking pipes, and all the way to beaded bags from the War of 1812. Every day is new and exciting; I never know what artifacts I will find when I open up one of the many boxes that have been in storage. After I have a few artifacts I then hunt through files to find out what the artifact is, its history, and the story that goes along with it. From there I take all of the information I find and put it into the museum’s Past Perfect system. Past Perfect is the museum’s operation system that acts as an electronic file that holds all of the artifacts information, pictures, and donation records.

Kylie_Nicole

Along with cataloguing I have also had the opportunity to help design and plan exhibits. My first day working at the museum I was actually unpacking a travelling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum. As someone who has been there many times it was amazing to actually be able to see and handle the artifacts. Recently, my co-worker Nicole and I updated the Roots of a Nation permanent exhibit to include textiles, toys, and tools of the Metis, Inuit, and First Nations across Canada.

I have noticed tremendous progress since I started working at the MOA. From making our files and artifacts accessible to the general public through online databases, to the growth and expansion of the education program, the museum is evolving and growing every day.

People quite often disregard Ontario’s history, many don’t even believe me when I tell them there are ongoing archaeological excavations here in London, but Ontario and Canada’s history is so expansive and interesting if one takes the time to learn about it. Canada’s has tens of thousands of years of diverse history; walking through the museum you can see the evolution of North American Civilization.  If you start at the museum’s prehistoric display case you can follow the story of Canadian people starting from Ice age all the way up to the European Contact age. Being able to see, learn, and teach the amazing history of Canadian people makes my job simply amazing.

Who is Wilfrid Jury? (Part 3)

Archaeological Sites with Wilfrid Jury

Southwold Earthworks

southwold

Prior to 1935, few prehistoric Iroquoian village sites in Southern Ontario had been documented or excavated. From July- September 1935, Wilf conducted the major excavation at Southwold Earthworks, as assistant to renowned archaeologist W. Wintemberg.  They employed a crew of hired men with little excavation experience to complete the manual labor. Despite this limitation they were highly successful and became the first archaeologists to excavate and completely expose a number of longhouses on an Iroquoian village site. They were also the first to systematically map a set of Iroquoian earthworks and palisades.

Wilf took the lessons he learned from Wintemberg at Southwold as a foundation to complete his own excavations at other local sites. By 1935 Wilf began teaching archaeology as part of the University of Western Ontario summer schools and in class seminars on history. As part of his courses, he took students to participate in excavations of his sites, including the Lawson site beginning in July 1938.

More information on Southwold: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/southwold/index.aspx

 

Clearville Site

Amos and Wilf at the Clearville Site 1939 (Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada)
Amos and Wilf at the Clearville Site
1939 (Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada)

Clearville is the first site Wilf undertook on his own with support from the university in 1939. Clearville made significant contributions to archaeological knowledge, since Wilf demonstrated the village had three successive occupations, an important precedent he would utilize on all of his later projects. Wilfrid also learned that utilizing specialists from inter-disciplinary studies at the university allowed him to gain more in depth analysis of items such as fish bones, skeletal remains, and soils found onsite, something that Wilf employed in later excavations and what archaeology continues to do in the present. Wilf further engaged the media to ensure frequent coverage of the site and the objects unearthed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilf at Burley site (c 1947-1950 Port Franks, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada)
Wilf at Burley site
(c 1947-1950
Port Franks, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada)

Lambton County Sites

As a child Wilf left with Amos on long hunting and fishing excursions to the Kettle Point area and this is where they began surface collecting artifacts they happened to come across. Kettle Point is unique since it contains massive quantities of high quality chert is a small area. Later in Wilf’s life, while at the University of Western Ontario, he undertook detailed investigations at a series of camps and flint workshops in the dunes around Port Franks from 1946 to 1948.

Read more about the archaeology at Kettle Point area in this 1985 edition of the KEWA report of the Ontario Archaeology Society: http://www.academia.edu/6131407/Archaeology_of_the_Southeastern_Huron_Basin

 

 

 

 

 


wilf_farfield

Fairfield Mission at Moraviantown

Wilf completed major excavations at Fairfield between 1942 and 1947. This was the first site Wilf excavated that had archival data associated with it. By combining historic maps, journals, and archaeological evidence, Wilf was able to provide a comprehensive view of what the site would have looked like during occupation and what took place there. The site had been established in 1792 by Pennsylvania based Moravian missionaries and was the first Protestant mission in Upper Canada. Their village had a definite street plan, lined with cabins, surrounding a central church and school. Wilf concluded that at times, up to 200 people lived there and they brought a new higher quality of life to the pioneer settlements already here.

Archaeology Around the World Camp

Archaeology Around the World camp – July 21st to July 25th (and August 25 to 29th) 2014.

Quill Writing

Archaeology around the world is a theme that’s all about encouraging a sense of adventure and exploration! Learn about unique archaeological sites around the world.

This week starts off with the ancient Romans and Greeks, when you’ll get to learn about the mythology and culture that became the basis of modern Western civilization. We’ll test your knowledge with trivia and make wonderful Gods/Goddesses themed crafts. We make olive wreaths and use sheets and blankets to throw a toga fashion show!

On Tuesday we explore China, the country with one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world! You’ll get to learn about Chinese art, culture and symbolism and use that knowledge to make your own clay terra cotta warriors, paper lanterns and fly handmade kites in the park. Tuesday is also water day so we get to do a water balloon toss, play ‘drip drip drop’ and have a wild time in the sun splashing around!

Wednesday takes you across thousands of years and kilometers to the mysterious world of Ancient Egypt. You will get to make a ceremonial mask, like the ones found in the tomb of King Tut, Egyptian headbands, pyramid dioramas and translate secret hieroglyphic codes. Wednesday is also dig day so you can get your hands dirty learning about real archaeological techniques and dig for artifacts on the Lawson Site. A museum interpreter then explains all the detective work that goes on behind identifying the artifacts, and gives you a chance to guess what you’ve found!

Thursday we learn about a culture that truly embodied the spirit of travel and exploration; the Vikings! We learn about the unique lifestyle of the Vikings and the settlements discovered right here in the Canadian East coast. The crafts involve making parts of the Viking costume, such as shields, swords and helmets. Then we’ll challenge you to make the sturdiest and swiftest boats to race in the river when we go hiking through the forest on a Viking adventure!

Friday is our most special day at camp. We spend the morning learning about Medieval Europe and making foil paper crowns. This is followed by a pizza lunch and then our most special event, Around the World in 80 minutes (AKA Quest Day). The counselors dress up in full costume from all the different cultures and time periods we studied during the week. Some counselors hide throughout the forest and the village where they set up challenges and tasks you must overcome to complete your quest. These activities include hunting for lost treasure, trekking across make-believe jungles, making your counselor into a mummy, underwater archaeology and more! Quest day is a great way to fire up our camper’s imaginations as they see all the ancient worlds come to life.

Registration details available at www.archaeologymuseum.ca/programs/summer-day-camp/