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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.

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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. Through programs such as our summer day camps, 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 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! Read more

Soapstone Pendants

gorget: stone used in pendants
Gorget Approximately 300-1000 years old

Creative Workshop: Soapstone Pendant Making

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. Read more

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: Read more

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. Read more

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! Read more

LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! Volunteer Actors Needed

Director Chair Museum of Ontario Archaeology Video Project

Does your child love to be in the spotlight?  Have you always dreamed of being an actor?

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is currently shooting a series of videos about the museum and is looking for volunteer actors.  Videos will be used to promote the museum’s programs and will appear on social media platforms and the museum’s website (www.archaeologymuseum.ca).

 

YOUTH and CHILD ACTORS (Volunteer) Read more

Work study Profile: Katie McLean

KatieMc

Name: Katie McLean
How long have you worked at MOA?: Since the beginning of June 2014.
What is your job title and what do you do?: I am a historical interpreter, responsible for assisting with educational programs and developing new workshops/demonstrations for visitors.
What background/training have you completed for this current position? I am entering my fourth year at Western University (Huron), with a focus on Anthropology, French, and History. For the past two summers, I have worked at museums (one on the history of Lambton County, and another on the Basque whaling industry in Québec).
What inspired you to work at MOA? I have always had an interest in archaeology, and in the archaeology of Ontario in particular. I remember visiting MOA while I was in high school and really enjoying the ‘Archaeologist for a Day’ program. I believe it is very important that we understand and appreciate the heritage of this area, and MOA is the ideal place to do just that!
What is your favourite part of your job? My favourite part of my job is getting to work with school groups and seeing how MOA’s interactive activities and demonstrations can increase students’ interest in archaeology and in history. I also really enjoy working as part of a team to develop new historical demonstrations for visitors.
If there was one thing you could tell the world about MOA, what would it be? MOA offers numerous educational programs and day camps for students throughout the year. These provide the perfect opportunity for children to learn about archaeology through fun and interactive activities!

Behind the scenes: Meet Nicole

Nicole A

Hi! I am Nicole Aszalos and I have been working at MOA since May 2014. My official job title is a curatorial intern, but as in any smaller institution, that takes on a broad meaning since I am diving into something different and exciting every day. As a curatorial intern, my first project was to redesign the interpretive panels both on the Lawson site and inside the permanent gallery to make them more accessible and interactive with the public. Currently I am still working on that, but I have also started working on standardizing and creating digital records of the collection, rehousing various artefacts, and conducting research. Read more