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A Journey in Conservation: Basketry

Many objects in a museum collection require conservation treatment to extend their longevity, and First Nations basketry is no exception. Treating baskets requires multiple steps, but the general philosophy is simple: reduce the effects of damage in a controlled, documented, and reversible way.

MOA Conservation Intern Josh cleaning a basket from the ethnographic collection.
MOA Conservation Intern Josh cleaning a basket from the ethnographic collection.

The first step of conversation is documentation. Once this is complete, it is time to treat the basket. Conservators consider a lot during the treatment of an object including fragility, materials, and the object’s continuing health. The first round of cleaning is usually ‘dry’ cleaning. This includes brushing surface dust and debris from the object, as well as using cosmetic sponges to remove adhered dirt or accretions from the surface. Dry cleaning is an effective way to gently remove most of the dirt and dust from an object without being aggressive or invasive (because causing extra damage to the object only means more work later). In my experience with the basketry collection at the MOA, most require dry cleaning only. Read more

International Archaeology Day

Come celebrate MOA’s International Archaeological Day!

On October 15th, over 100 organisations across the world will be holding workshops, fairs, and lectures for International Archaeology Day. With only five years under its belt, this once National day held by the Archaeological Institute of America started from humble beginnings with only 14 participating institutions in the United States. You may be thinking, “why is this important to me?”

iad2016-logo

“International Archaeology Day is a celebration of archaeology and the thrill of discovery. Every October the AIA and archaeological organisations across the United States, Canada, and abroad present archaeological programs and activities for people of all ages and interests. Whether it is a family-friendly archaeology fair, a guided tour of a local archaeological site, a simulated dig, a lecture or a classroom visit from an archaeologist, the interactive, hands-on International Archaeology Day programs provide the chance to indulge your inner Indiana Jones.”
-AIA Website- Read more

Importance of Chase Wesson Site

Image of flagged test pit

In 1992, the Museum of Ontario Archaeology carried out a Stage 1/2 assessment of a proposed subdivision in Simcoe County that led to the discovery of a previously unknown Huron-Wendat village. This village was subsequently subject to Stage 3 and limited Stage 4 excavations carried out by another consultant, revealing an undisturbed fifteenth century village, which is now known as the Chase-Wesson site. Nineteenth and early twentieth century research by people such as archaeologist A.F. Hunter.and more recent investigations by cultural resource management firms have resulted in the documentation of hundreds of Huron-Wendat villages in Simcoe County (Williamson 2014). The founder of MOA, Wilfrid Jury, carried out exploratory excavations at a number of these sites in the 1940s through early 60s (see Stories of Pre-History: The Jury Family Legacies by Robert Pearce, our former Executive Director. Copies may be ordered from the Museum, where they are also on sale in our store.) Read more

Look Back: Underwater Archaeology in Ontario

Long before the creation of this blog, and before the digital Palisade E-Post, the museum sent out paper newsletters. First published in February 1979, each Palisade Post issue is a snapshot of what was happening in Ontario archaeology during this time, and is the basis of our Look Back series.

Underwater Archaeology in Ontario: An Overview

April 1982 Vol 4. No. 2 Author: Scarlett Janusas (ed note: Ms. Janusas was an intern at the museum at the time).

Image of submerged ship Underwater Archaeology in Ontario

Underwater archaeologists share a common goal with treasure hunters and salvagers: each wants to bring to the surface that which the sea and other bodies of water have claimed. In all other respects, the similarities between these groups disappear.

Treasure hunters, as the label implies, occupy themselves with the removal of items for which monetary gains may be made. Occasionally, they may complete maps denoting positions of artifacts and other items of worth, but these maps at best, are just sketches employed for relocating the site for the sole purpose of continuing the pillage. Salvagers are even less concerned with recording and mapping. Their purpose is to haul up items which can later be sold for scrap metal. There is a time and profit incentive for both the treasure hunter and the salvager. Greater profits can be realized by spending less actual time on the site. Read more

Meet Dr. Rhonda Bathurst

Editor: We’re releasing the news of our new Executive Director: meet Dr. Rhonda Bathurst.

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Dr. Rhonda Bathurst has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. Her position will commence on September 26, 2016.

Meet Dr Rhonda Bathurst, MOA's new ED

Rhonda received her PhD in Anthropology from McMaster University in 2005, and has worked in archaeology around the world, including Belize, Iceland, California, the Pacific Northwest Coast and here at home in Ontario. With seven years of experience managing Sustainable Archaeology: Western, just next door, Rhonda is already well acquainted with the Museum, its core values and its staff. Read more

Museum Curator’s Secrets

We asked our Curator, Nicole Aszalos, to comment on this Guardian Article and share her Museum Curator’s secrets.

Image of Nicole holding an artifact from the collection
Nicole and a Birdstone

The Secrets of the Museum Curators from The Guardian is a well written article, with some of England’s top flight curators sharing thoughts on their careers. Although the article is not an in-depth discussion of the curatorial field, it does provide some effective and honest career insights for the aspiring curator. In the short article the curators also try to solve some misconceptions commonly associated with the profession.

Often when I say I am a curator, responses run along the lines of ‘Oh that’s interesting.. .What is that?” Now when we compound that on the fact that I am a curator at an archaeology museum, it can make for some interesting conversations due to the uniqueness of the position. The most common misconception about a curator’s role is that the majority of your time is spent doing exhibit design and selecting objects to make a gallery look pretty. Realistically, that is maybe 25 percent of the job. Curators are the keepers of the museum’s collection. This means we research, catalogue, preserve, conserve, and house museum objects for current and future generations. We maintain the gallery AND collection space and coordinate interns and volunteers. In actuality, it is a lot more behind the scenes than many people realise (editor’s note: imagine an iceberg. What the public gets to see in a museum is only the tip, above the water). Read more

Thank You from Joan Kanigan

Joan Kanigan headshot
MOA ED Joan Kanigan

Four Years at MOA, by Joan Kanigan

It is with a combined sense of anticipation and regret that I prepare my final blog for the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.  I am proud of what the museum has been able to accomplish over the past four years and my decision to leave was difficult.  As I write this blog, our Summer Camp program is completely full, the roof and HVAC systems are being replaced, and we are in the process of adding movable shelving in the collection storage room. So much has changed over the past four years that I wanted to take this opportunity to review and celebrate what has been accomplished as the museum prepares to develop exciting new exhibits, increase community partnerships, and improve the management of the Lawson Site. Read more

The Thornton Abbey Project

 One Curator’s Journey in Archaeology

By Nicole Aszalos, Musuem of Ontario Archaeology Curator

For the month of June, I spent most of my days out of the office and in the trenches at Thornton Abbey in North Lincolnshire, England. Since this was my first time in England, I wanted to experience as much as I possibly could. To do this, I left a few days early to travel to the cities of York and Leeds to gain an understanding and appreciation of the history I was hoping to unearth. And, being the Harry Potter fan that I am, I just had to venture on a day touring The Shambles, an opportunity that the nerd in me fully appreciated.

Nicole at The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. Also had the opportunity to shoot a crossbow here which was a cool experience.
Nicole at The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. “I also had the opportunity to shoot a crossbow here which was a cool experience.”

My goal in York and Leeds was to gain an understanding of the museums and their presentation of history, since this is something I am passionate about.  I spent my days touring museums and historic sites such as York Minister, York Castle Museum, and the Royal Armouries in Leeds just to name a few. It was exciting to see how interactive these museums were with engaging the visitor in history.  The museums I visited created immersive experiences by combining both historic objects and modern technology in their displays. One of the most immersive and unsettling experiences happened while exploring the dungeons of York Castle Museum where projections of actors, representing some of the most notorious people hung at the gallows, performed in each cell.  Being the active person I am, I also spent a couple hours hiking historic paths including what remains of the Roman Wall in York. Read more

Meet Desiree Barber

As part of our behind the scenes series: Meet Desiree Barber, an MOA Intern

Desiree_Barber_Education

When travelling in Europe at 16,  I fell in love with art history and architecture.  Consequently, I decided working within art, history and culture was what I wanted to do as a career.  However, after receiving some advice, I took a detour towards college for Dental Assisting.  After finishing the program I decided being a dental assistant for the rest of my life was not what I wanted.  So, I entered university to pursue my dream.  After I received my Bachelor of Arts, I saw the need for a post-graduate program.  I started at Georgian College for the Museum and Gallery Studies program. The final semester requires an internship, which I am completing at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA). Read more