2006-2007 Year in Perspective

Over 35 Years of Enabling Excellence

Table of Contents

A word from the Director General of the CHIN

For more than 35 years,CHIN has been enabling Canada's museums to engage audiences through the use of innovative technologies. In other words, we connect museums with Canadians. We do this by fostering the creation, management, presentation and preservation of Canada's digital heritage content.

"We connect museums with Canadians"

The most visible examples of this are the hundreds of virtual exhibits and other content created by Canadian museums through the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) initiative, the many awards they have won, and the millions of visits they are attracting from around the world.

"A growing sense of confidence among professionals and volunteers"

The bigger story, however, lies in the growing confidence that heritage professionals are showing in their digitization projects, their online marketing efforts, their collections management practices, their studies through Web-based courses, and more.

CHIN is a national centre of museum excellence, and we are committed to enabling our member institutions to excel in the digital realm. We nurture research and professional development, content development and presentation, and engagement. These are our key objectives, and we've structured this report accordingly.

In addition to showing you what we've accomplished over 2006-2007, we've also asked some old friends to remind us of some of the past successes that still define us. Thank you to Pat Young, Bruce Williams, Christina Tessier, and Isabelle Geoffrion for agreeing to share their memories with us. You remind us that CHIN's achievements are firmly rooted in the collaborative relationship we share with our members.

On a final and more personal note, thank you to my colleagues at the Department of Canadian Heritage and at CHIN's more than 1,200 member institutions for making my first year with you so rewarding.

Gabrielle Blais
Director General

1972-2007, 35 years of shared achievements

From an historic UNESCO Convention to today's Agora Research Initiative, CHIN's evolution has centered on the need to leverage resources and expertise for the benefit of the Canadian and international heritage community.

  • 1970: The historic UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property draws attention to the need for states to protect their cultural property.
  • 1972: Following the proposal of an inventory of public collections in the new National Museums Policy, the Government of Canada creates the National Inventory Programme (NIP).
  • 1982: The National Inventory Programme becomes the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN).
  • 1987: The Conservation Information Network's data, along with other databases, become accessible via dial-up.
  • 1991: A streetscape logo featuring the landmark buildings of five member institutions is adopted.
  • 1995: CHIN's Web site for heritage professionals and volunteers is launched at www.chin.gc.ca. CHIN produces its first virtual exhibit, Christmas Traditions in France and in Canada ,in collaboration with the Royal Alberta Museum, Quebec's Musée de la civilisation, and France's Musée national des arts et traditions populaires.
  • 1999: The National Inventories are adapted to the Web, becoming Artefacts Canada.
  • 2001: The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) portal for the general public is launched at virtualmuseum.ca. The first call for proposals from the VMC Investment Programs is issued.
  • 2002: The Community Memories component of the VMC Investment Programs issues its first call for proposals. Twelve museums go on to produce exhibits following the call.
  • 2003: The Community Memories section of the VMC is launched, featuring exhibits developed by the 21 museums that tested the software during a pilot phase of the program.
  • 2004: CHIN membership surpasses 1,000 not-for-profit heritage institutions across Canada
  • 2006: The Professional Exchange section is added to the CHIN Web site.
  • 2007: The Agora Research Initiative enters an evaluation stage, featuring prototype learning resources developed by 21 museums.

Research and professional development

CHIN conducts research into how museums can best approach information management, digital technologies, intellectual property, standards and other issues. It draws on this knowledge to design and deliver training opportunities. Our partnerships with domestic and international partners allow CHIN to provide the heritage community with online development resources and spaces at www.rcip-chin.gc.ca , as well as in-person workshops and other events that guide museums through the creation, presentation, management and preservation of digital content.

1987 TIME CAPSULE: Pat Young explains how CHIN came to provide access to professional development resources.

My name is Patricia Young, and I'm currently the Director of Public Information and Education at Parks Canada. Up until not too long ago, I was Manager of Content Development and Capacity Building at CHIN.

For the better part of two decades, I had the pleasure of working every day with Canada's museum community, helping to ensure that our heritage professionals and volunteers have the skills and tools they need to fully exploit information and communication technologies.

Even before the arrival of the Web, CHIN made it possible for heritage workers to connect with each other, both through email and face-to-face meetings. In the eighties, for example, we gathered well over 100 people from across the country to participate in working groups dedicated to developing descriptive standards. This ongoing contact has always been very important to CHIN, allowing us to gain a better understanding of members' needs, so as to address them as directly as possible.

With time, CHIN placed a growing emphasis on conducting original research and developing resources that addressed the specific needs of our community. Just as importantly, we developed a skills development strategy to enable heritage professionals and volunteers to better tackle their collections management, digitization projects, intellectual property issues, and more. This training took place both online - through online courses and other learning materials - and on the ground, through workshops and countless site visits to member museums.

Today, CHIN's network of museums is stronger and more technologically savvy than ever before. While there will always be new things to learn and new challenges to overcome, I know that Canada's museums are well-positioned to continue succeeding in this increasingly digital world.

Enabling Knowledge on the Web

CHIN strives to help museums reach their goals in the digital realm by providing resources and expertise that are custom-made for the heritage community. Since 1995, CHIN's Web site at www.rcip-chin.gc.ca has been central to these efforts.

Through the analysis of surveys, Web traffic statistics, correspondence and other forms of contact, CHIN pays close attention to how museum staff uses our services and how they think we can better serve them. In recent years, we learned that while users were largely satisfied with the CHIN Web site, emerging trends were leading them to imagine an enhanced online experience for heritage professionals and volunteers.

The Professional Exchange: A New Addition to the CHIN site

CHIN's response to that feedback came at the 2006 Canadian Museums Association (CMA) conference in Saint John, New Brunswick, with the launch of the Professional Exchange. Drawing on the potential of emerging interactive applications to enable heritage professionals to learn, collaborate and share online, the Professional Exchange features three groupings of information:

Online Courses and Best Practices

Courses related to the creation, presentation, management, and preservation of digital content. These include CHIN support, reference resources, and opportunities to test one's knowledge, to track one's progress, take online quizzes and engage in forum discussions.

Peer-to-Peer

Users set up or participate in online working groups (a.k.a. communities of practice), hold online meetings, and exchange ideas, documents, and references. Users also learn about Web-based tools for sharing resources.

Access to Experts

Interviews, webcasts, podcasts and blogs on a range of subjects are shared by top experts in their fields.

Visits to CHIN Web site graph
70% Increase in Online Visits! There were 945,402 visits in 2001-2002, 1,315,660 visits in 2002-2003, 1,572,687 visits in 2003-2004, 1,517,348 visits in 2004-2005, 2,403,437 visits in 2005-2006, and 4,112,240 visits in 2006-2007. The phenomenal increase in usage of the CHIN Web site following the addition of the Knowledge Exchange's value-added content greatly exceeds expectations. The site registered 4,112,240 visits over 2006-2007 – a 70% jump over the previous year's 2,403,437 visits!

Since its launch, CHIN has continued to enrich the Professional Exchange with a variety of new content.

Five New Courses Added to the Knowledge Exchange in 2006-2007

Passage to E-learning [no longer available]
A hands-on introduction to the common features and benefits of e-learning. This course was developed in cooperation with the Canada School of Public Service.
Digital Fundamentals
An overview of the basics of image resolution, digital file format and other concepts needed to start a digitization project.
Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-term Strategies for Long-term Problems
An introduction to the basic tenets of digital preservation. Originally developed by Cornell University, this course is geared toward librarians, archivists, curators, managers, and technical specialists.
Concepts for Developing Digital Preservation Policies
A more advanced course that assumes basic knowledge of digital preservation, and speaks specifically to the needs of museums.
Storyline Development and Project Management for Community Museums
CHIN and the provincial museum associations behind the Learning Coalition developed this exhibit planning course by drawing lessons from the experiences of past Community Memories participants.

Access to Experts - 12 Podcasts

As part of the Access to Experts series of brief audio interviews, CHIN introduced twelve thought leaders and practitioners in the realms of heritage and technology to the broader Canadian museum community. Topics ranged from determining how a story can best be told online, to the preservation of the final digital product.

Communities of Practice within the Professional Exchange

In addition, CHIN made it possible for online working groups relating to culture, geography, object naming/classification and other subjects to set up shop in the Professional Exchange. In order to help users better understand how the application works, orientation slides were added. The Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (MANL), and the Learning Coalition are some of the organizations that have taken advantage of the service.

New IP Publication

Nailing Down Bits: Digital Art and Intellectual Property was another addition to www.rcip-chin.gc.ca, more specifically to CHIN's Intellectual Property Series. Authored by Richard Rinehart, the Berkeley Art Museum's Digital Media Director, this unique publication is a valuable resource for any institution seeking to protect and leverage the assets it holds in trust.

Enabling Connections on the Ground

In addition to presentations on its ongoing programs and resources - in particular the new Professional Exchange, the Agora Research Initiative and the Virtual Museum of Canada Investment Programs - CHIN took a number of broader-themed full-day workshops on the road:

  • Planning an Online Heritage Project
  • Digitizing Images for Your Museum
  • Facing Digital Preservation Challenges

From the insights gleaned from our analysis of thousands of Virtual Museum of Canada feedback messages to museum case studies, CHIN also helped to enrich many sessions and panels throughout 2006-2007. The ubiquitous CHIN information booth allowed CHIN staff to address the questions and concerns of stakeholders, as well hear how we can better serve our member institutions. Given the numerous ways in which heritage professionals and volunteers can participate in CHIN initiatives, this face-to-face contact is a valuable means of ensuring that museums derive the maximum benefit possible from their membership in CHIN. Among the conferences in which CHIN staff participated were those of the:

Photo of Director General with Cal White
Gabrielle Blais, CHIN's Director General, with Cal White, President of the Canadian Museums Association (CMA), at the 2007 CMA conference in Ottawa.

Enabling Partnerships

In February 2007, CHIN brought Canada's provincial museum associations to Gatineau, Quebec, for three days of discussions about digital heritage issues affecting their respective members. In addition to CHIN staff, association directors and professional development officers had the opportunity to meet with other Department of Canadian Heritage officials and our friends at Canadian Museums Association (CMA). CHIN and the associations reviewed best practices and explored copyright, digital content accessibility, research, training and other topics of shared interest.

This was the eighth annual gathering of its kind. These events reflect the importance CHIN accords its partnership with Canada's museum associations.

An offshoot of this longstanding partnership, CHIN commissioned eleven articles for provincial and territorial museum association newsletters. While all of the articles explore how people are using the Web to develop their professional skills (e.g. online university courses), each was unique in that they featured the stories of professionals, volunteers, and/or instructors from the province in which the article was printed.

"21 Young Canada Works interns at 11 associations and heritage institutions"

In addition, CHIN facilitated the placement of 21 Young Canada Works interns at 11 associations and heritage institutions. The interns gained valuable experience while helping their employers with Web product development, research into documentation and cataloguing practices for digital art, and the documentation and uploading of collection records into Artefacts Canada.

CHIN also continued to nurture its ties with counterpart organizations outside Canada. CHIN became a member of the New Media Consortium (NMC) , an international consortium of leading colleges, universities, museums, corporations, and other learning-focused organizations. As a result, during 2006-2007 all interested CHIN member institutions were able to access the NMC's private listservs and other helpful resources, as well as attend online events at no cost.

"CHIN shared the Canadian experience with AFRICOM"

With an eye to helping create opportunities for Canadian and African museums to work together, CHIN shared the Canadian experience in using simple technology to share local history (i.e. Community Memories) with the 300 delegates attending the second general assembly and conference of ICOM 's International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM). This was done via a pre-recorded video presentation.

CHIN also continued to be engaged in the digital Cultural Content Forum (dCCF). Led by CHIN and the UK's Museums, Librairies and Archives (MLA) and the US's Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) , the dCCF is an annual forum for government agencies around the world that are enabling heritage institutions to reach audiences through technology. CHIN assumed responsibility for planning and hosting the CHIN's Professional Exchange 2007 dCCF gathering around the themes of best practices, collaborative networks and learning through technology.

Lastly, as they have done since 1972, CHIN staff worked hand-in-hand with counterparts at the Department of Canadian Heritage and its portfolio agencies throughout the year. From our participation at the National Summit on a Canadian Digital Information Strategy hosted by Library and Archives Canada to the 11th Francophonie Summit at which Canada's museums were represented through Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC), CHIN continued to advance the mission and goals of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Objective 2: Content development and presentation

Canada's museum community is uniquely placed to provide Canadians and worldwide audiences with trusted and contextual heritage content, and CHIN is dedicated to fully realizing this potential. CHIN provides ongoing support, including the Virtual Museum of Canada Investment Programs, and offers unique content and access solutions, such as virtualmuseum.ca and Artefacts Canada. Through these efforts, CHIN ensures that the public and heritage professionals have access to content that enables research, education and lifelong learning.

2001 TIME CAPSULE: Christina Tessier, Bytown Museum, discuss the Virtual Museum of Canada.

My name is Christina Tessier, and I'm Director of the Bytown Museum, as well as chair of the Ottawa Museum Network. Our museum is housed in Ottawa's oldest stone building, a treasury and storehouse used during the construction of the Rideau Canal, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In essence, we tell the story of Ottawa's first century. And the Virtual Museum of Canada has played an important role in bringing that story to life on the Web.

Thanks to our involvement with the VMC Investment Program, we've reached new audiences, involved talented youth in our work, and established partnerships that otherwise may not have happened.

With the Commissariat 3D Reconstruction Project, for example, we had the opportunity to work with experts from the National Research Council, Parks Canada historians, and students from colleges in Ontario and New Brunswick. The resulting product was innovative and exciting and it is something we couldn’t have tackled on our own.

Since 2001, the Virtual Museum of Canada has been helping to raise the profile of museums both large and small across the country, and they have also been sharing our treasures and stories with Canadians and people from around the world. The Bytown Museum is proud to be a part of the Virtual Museum of Canada and we look forward to working with the program for many years to come.

Artefacts Canada Gains 108 New Contributing Institutions

Thirty-five years after its creation, Canada's national inventory of museum objects continues to be at the core of CHIN's identity. Member institutions have voluntarily contributed more than 3,500,000 records and nearly 600,000 accompanying images, making Artefacts Canada a model without equal in the heritage world. The number of records, images and participating institutions continues to grow thanks to its success in enabling professionals and volunteers to explore and share collections.

The number of records, images and participating institutions to Artefacts Canada
Year Records Records with images Contributing Institutions
2003 2,815,951 319,022 215
2004 3,289,613 388,479 229
2005 3,540,610 397,120 227
2006 3,511,575 431,360 231
2007 3,545,499 582,783 339

2003 TIME CAPSULE: Isabelle Geoffrion, Watson's Mill, speak about Community Memories.

Hello,

My name is Isabelle Geoffrion. I am the Manager at Watson’s Mill in Manotick, Ontario.

Watson’s Mill is a unique 19 Century grist mill with ties to local politics and the building of a country. It is one of the few remaining operating grist mills in North America.

We are a small institution, our main artifact is the building and like everyone else, we have limited resources.

We are located at the centre of an extremely supportive and active village. Watson’s Mill truly is the heart of Manotick.

We are currently involved in a Community Memories project which is a component of the Virtual Museum of Canada Investment Program.

Our digital exhibit is called The Heart of a Village – The Story of Watson’s Mill and Manotick. It is an intergenerational project involving children, their parents and local seniors.

Community Memories offers a small institution like ours an opportunity to create content for the Web and reach new audiences.

It is also a great medium to connect with community members and collect oral histories.

This is my second project with Community Memories. The first one was done through the Rideau Canal Museum in Smith’s Falls and was called Lest We Forget.

The project was hugely successful bringing together over 200 youth. They started by taking names on the local cenotaph than conducted extensive research, held interviews, wrote biographies, some visited World War I cemeteries in Europe, photographed their heroes’ headstones, shared their results with descendants.

It was an extremely moving local project that had national significance.

Community Memories made it possible for us to recognize our local heroes and share their stories with other Canadians.

You can listen to a February 2007 interview with Jim Johnston, Director of Collection and Conservation Services at the Canada Science and Technology Museum and Stephanie Meeuwse, Collections and Exhibits Coordinator at Museums Mississauga (no longer available), on how both large and small museums gain from contributing to Artefacts Canada.

Here are some highlights from 2006-2007:

In the summer of 2006, users saw the introduction of a simplified interface that offers provincial views of data.

CHIN continued to involve provincial partners in collections development projects that supported a total of 74 museums in their efforts to automate their collections management and contribute to the national inventory. Museum association and government partners from Yukon, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador delivered training and ongoing advice, boosting the representation of smaller museums in Artefacts Canada by more than 1,500 new records.

2006-2007 Artefacts Canada graph
Artefacts Canada was accessed 255,352 times by contributors and researchers in 2006-2007 - a 48% jump over the previous year's 172,314 visits!

Fifty-four New Exhibits in the Virtual Museum of Canada

Supported by the Virtual Museum of Canada initiative, 54 CHIN member institutions and their partners completed and launched a wide variety of online productions that bring unique aspects of Canada's heritage to life. With a few clicks of a mouse, Canadian and international audiences are now able to:

  • relive the history of the Northwest Resistance;
  • navigate through almost 2,000 works by Canada's most best known female artist;
  • immerse themselves in the rich Inuit culture of one of Canada's most northerly communities;
  • discover Canada's central role in advancing our understanding of the universe;
  • experience the early days of independent record labels;
  • witness the dramatic struggle of Japanese-Canadian families during World War II;
  • help a gallery build an 'open-source museum created by the public for the public';
  • fly alongside the daring bush pilots who opened up the northern wilderness;
  • be moved by the aftermath of an epic tornado and a devastating tsunami;
  • join conservation experts in the lab, the wild and the community;
  • and much, much more!

Illustration of a Métis home with the family gathered around the table.
From Back to Batoche, a Métis home as portrayed by artist Armand Paquette.

British Columbia

Community Memories
Virtual Exhibits

Alberta

Community Memories

Saskatchewan

Community Memories
Virtual Exhibits

Manitoba

Community Memories

Ontario

Community Memories
Virtual Exhibits

Quebec

Community Memories
Virtual Exhibits

New Brunswick

Virtual Exhibits

Nova Scotia

Community Memories

Newfoundlandand Labrador

Community Memories
Virtual Exhibits

Nunavut

Community Memories

Yukon

Community Memories
Close-up photograph of a copper rockfish
From Conservation in Action, a copper rockfish captured by photographer Noel Hendrickson.

Virtual Museum of Canada Investment Programs: New Calls

While many museums took satisfaction in seeing the fruits of their labour finally take centre stage on their Web sites and at virtualmuseum.ca, dozens of additional museums prepared to take the plunge - many for the first time. The following is a summary of investment program activities during 2006-2007.

2006-2007 Virtual Museum of Canada Editorial Board

In keeping with tradition, the 2006-2007 Virtual Museum of Canada Editorial Board was composed of members from across Canada who brought a variety of experience and expertise to the table.

Virtual Exhibits in the Works

In 2006, seven museums began production of new virtual exhibitions following the endorsement of the Virtual Museum of Canada Editorial Board.

Project Title

  1. Beacons of Light: Lighthouses of Prince Edward Island : Community Museums Association of Prince Edward Island
  2. Hummingbirds : Musée de la nature et des sciences
  3. Miguasha: From Water to Land : Musée d'histoire naturelle, parc national de Miguasha
  4. Nunavik: A Land and Its People : Laboratoire de recherché sur les musiques du monde
  5. Salaberry-de-Valleyfield: At the Heart of Canada's Industrial History : Musée de société des Deux-Rives
  6. The Balance of Power: Hydroelectric Development in Southeastern British Columbia : Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History
  7. Virtual Herbarium of Plants at Risk in Saskatchewan: A natural heritage : Herbarium of the University of Saskatchewan

Agora Research Initiative

The Virtual Museum of Canada Editorial Board gathered in January 2007 to evaluate proposals sent in response to a special call associated with the Agora Research Initiative. (See Engaging Educators to learn more about the initiative.)

Issued in the fall of 2006 with November 28 as the deadline, this call invited museums to make the Web part of their educational outreach by participating in the development of prototype 'learning objects'. These interactive, digital entities combine text, images, video and audio through the aid of a template. As this list of approved projects demonstrates, the breadth of subjects proposed was impressive.

Twelve Agora Projects Approved in 2007

  1. Canadian Editorial Caricature: Spotlight on a Politically Incorrect Past! : McCord Museum of Canadian History
  2. Emily Carr: In Her Own Words : Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
  3. Feeding the Frontier - Food in Early Canada : Davenport Centre - Heritage Hall
  4. History Beneath Your Feet: Kingston's Heritage Market : Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation
  5. Investigating Climate Change in Canada's Arctic : Canadian Museum of Nature
  6. Koluskap: Wolastoqewi-atkuhkakonol - Stories from Wolastoqiyik : New Brunswick Museum
  7. Making History Now : Scarborough Historical Museum
  8. Music to the Ear : Heritage Branch, Province of New Brunswick
  9. Our Developing Story : Science World British Columbia
  10. Silkscreen Compendium: Vaughan Grayson, A Woman Artist in the Canadian Rockies and Printmaking Education Component : Moose Jaw Art Museum Incorporated/Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery
  11. Shaping a Country: A Canadian Heritage Digital Collection : Royal Ontario Museum
  12. The Carriage Factory Built on Horsepower : Campbell Carriage Factory Museum

For a better understanding of what is meant by 'learning object', listen to the description by Kirsten Evenden, Manager of New Media Initiatives at the Glenbow Museum (no longer available).

Community Memories

Since 2003, Community Memories has been enabling smaller museums with no more than five full-time employees to produce online exhibits that explore their communities' local history. From the beginning, successful first-time participants have been provided with easy-to-use software and a $5,000 investment for their production. In 2006-2007, this funding was enhanced in order to make it easier for local museums and the communities they serve to continue sharing their stories with the world. As a result, each subsequently approved production is now eligible for an additional investment of $2,500. (Proposals for subsequent exhibits must also be submitted during the annual call period.)

The latest annual call was issued in January 2007, with a closing date of February 28. The following museums had their proposals accepted for either a first-time exhibit, a subsequent exhibit exploring yet another chapter in their community's history, or the translation of their original exhibit into Canada's other official language.

Graph of the number of Online Exhibits and Games
In 2006-2007, the combined number of online exhibits and games featured through the Virtual Museum of Canada rose from 697 to 768 - a 10% increase.

Objective 3: Engagement strategies

CHIN designs and delivers outreach programs that engage audiences at home and abroad. Through marketing and communications campaigns informed by various environmental assessments (e.g. Web and technology trends, audience analysis), CHIN increases the visibility of Canadian heritage collections, thereby ensuring that audiences develop a deeper understanding of Canada's heritage.

1995 TIME CAPSULE: Bruce Williams speak about CHIN and the Web.

Hello,

My name is Bruce Williams; I am the former Director of Public  Programs at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Over many years CHIN had helped our museum and many others in the area of collections documentation and computerization. In the mid  90's,  seing the potential of the Web, CHIN made a major change in that direction.  First, all of the services for member museums were provided over the Web. Second, CHIN launched a series of products and services on the web, products and services that were based on museum information. In doing this, CHIN was a leader in the development and the conceptualization of these products and in facilitating collaboration and new skills in museums. This was work which could only be done from a common perspective and from a community viewpoint and we all benefited and profited from this experience.

At the time, I was lucky enough to be at CHIN on an exchange and since that time, I can see that the potential has been realized. Now, there is a huge range of valuable and relevant museum products available on the Web and museums and museum workers are better able to serve the public and to reach their personal and institutional objectives through the experiences they have gained with CHIN.

Engaging Educators

With the ultimate goal of better engaging teachers and students in Canadian museum content, CHIN continued to pursue the Agora Research Initiative in collaboration with 21 member institutions.

The innovative tools and high-quality content (in the form of texts, audio files, animations and video clips) currently under development will enable teachers to create their own lesson plans and projects, to interact with their students and museum educators, and to provide them with participatory and interactive learning experiences. In the lead-up to the official launch of the interactive online space and the accompanying digital learning resources in 2008, CHIN began building awareness of the Agora Research Initiative in the educational community.

At the 2007 Canadian Museums Association (CMA) conference in Ottawa, CHIN's museum stakeholders previewed a promotional video highlighting the advantages of the planned products for teachers. The video was then showcased at a number of gatherings planned by groups supporting the use of technology in Canada's classrooms, including:

Across Canada, presentations to both museum educators, and primary and secondary teachers, were also made throughout the year.

In addition, CHIN provided member institutions with two thoughtful documents that explore how museums can more effectively extend their educational outreach through the Web:

  • Liberating Heritage Content to Classrooms Via the Web (no longer available), an outcome of the previous year's Massive Change project; and
  • Defining an On-line Experience Unique to Heritage Institutions, a summary of the discussions and ideas that emerged from the CHIN Roundtable on E-Learning in Museums held in early 2006.

Engaging Observers and the Media

Few things can equal the power of an award to draw positive attention. The recognition of excellence engenders trust in a product, and generates a priceless buzz around it. Heritage institutions are keenly aware of this dynamic. Confident in the quality and value of what museums have to offer, CHIN and member institutions participating in the Virtual Museum of Canada Investment Programs regularly nominate their best for consideration.

During 2006-2007, Virtual Museum of Canada productions once again garnered the praise of juries at home and abroad.

Illustration of a ballroom filled with dancing couples.
As seen in 1759: From the Warpath to the Plains of Abraham, an interactive image by artist Pierre Bourgeault.

On a related note, CHIN developed Nine Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Promote Your New Online Exhibit , a straightforward tip sheet on how museums can get their new online exhibits noticed through press releases, media events, search engine optimization, and more.

Engaging the Social Web

As interactive 'Web 2.0' applications become increasingly popular, growing numbers of museums are taking advantage of the phenomenon as a means to reach both core and new audiences. From RSS feeds to Internet telephony to blogging to social tagging, CHIN helped to demystify the subject in the Professional Exchange by adding brief overviews of emerging trends, their relevance for museums, and how to participate, often at no cost. An example of our efforts to highlight the work of museums using social technologies is our interview with the Curator at the Port Moody Station Museum in British Columbia (no longer available). You can listen to Jim Millar recall how one of Canada's first museum blogs came to be.

Engaging Online Audiences

Through its methodical approach to search engine optimization and other online marketing initiatives, CHIN ensured that Canadian museum content was consistently ranked at or near the top of search engine results whenever the general public used pertinent keywords or key phrases.

In addition, CHIN continued to nurture the loyalty of the Virtual Museum of Canada 's core audiences by regularly featuring different content on the Virtual Museum of Canada's main portal pages, and through a general monthly electronic newsletter, as well as another newsletter targeting teachers.

Graph of visits to the Virtual Museum of Canada
There were 2,685,940 visits in 2001-2002, 3,590,417 visits in 2002-2003, 6,914,982 visits in 2003-2004, 10,582,504 visits in 2005-2006 and 12,753,980 visits in 2006-2007

The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) welcomed 12,753,980 visits in 2006-2007. When compared with 10,582,504 visits registered the previous year, that's a 20% increase!

Engaging New Audiences through Partnerships

Consistently on the lookout for opportunities to spread the word about Canadian museum content, CHIN undertook a number of partnerships in 2006-2007. Three worth noting are:

  • Lycos Canada - As part of a six-month pilot project, the Virtual Museum of Canada served as a content provider for Lycos Canada. Virtual exhibits developed by member institutions and promotional images appeared on the portal's culture-specific channel in an attempt to drive audiences to specific Virtual Museum of Canada pages. As a result, CHIN gained valuable lessons that are now being used to plan similar campaigns with ambitious targets.
  • Canada's Capital Museums Passport - CHIN created and posted within the Virtual Museum of Canada a Web page promoting an ongoing 'passport' initiative by national and other museums to encourage tourists and local residents to visit a variety of museum attractions. As a result, the program gained online exposure, and virtualmuseum.ca and its museum content was featured in the program's print advertising.
  • 11th Francophonie Summit, Romania - The theme of the event was information technology in education, which led to the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) being chosen to represent the Department of Canadian Heritage at the week-long gathering in the fall of 2006. CHIN ensured that the creativity of Canada's museums in the realm of digital content was on full display. As a result, government representatives and citizens from throughout the Francophonie returned home with a new understanding of Canadian museums and their online achievements.
Daniel Feeny welcomes a group to the Canada Pavilion in Bucharest.
Daniel Feeny, CHIN's Marketing and Business Development Manager, welcomes a group of students and their teachers to the Canada Pavilion in Bucharest.