Tuesday, 17 June 2014

THESIS REFLECTION: IS FUNDING THE BEST FORM OF ASSISTANCE?

BY: ROBIN NELSON

Since I received my ethics approval, I have been gathering information and contacting certain museums, hoping that someone responds and actually wants to talk to me. What I did not expect is how difficult it can be to find basic information about museums (like their hours, location, and the name of a contact person). Part of the problem is that when trying to find information about a museum, I expect Google to know everything. Instead, I have found that talking to actual people is key.

One of the most useful sites for finding lists of museums in New Brunswick is Wikipedia. Why is Wikipedia more helpful when finding information on these museums than the Association Museum New Brunswick, Tourism New Brunswick, or the Museum Network websites (discussed below)?

Museum of the Restigouche Logo

 The Government of New Brunswick (GNB) has divided the province’s museums into a Museum Network comprising nine zones - Restigouche, Madawaska/Victoria, Central Valley, Charlotte County (Fundy Culture), South-East (anglophone), Sud-Est (francophone), Miramichi, Chaleur and Acadian peninsula, and Saint John Fundy. The Network was established by the Government of New Brunswick with the release of the Cultural Policy for New Brunswick in 2002. According to a 2010 GNB press release, one of the zones’ first tasks was to develop marketing products, which includes: brochures, placemats, and websites.

Madawaska-Victoria Heritage Logo
Madawaska/Victoria


For my thesis, I hope to interview at least one participant from each region. However, as you may have noticed, not all of these zones have a website (or website I can find) and some of the websites are titled differently than their “zone” name. Furthermore, the Central Valley hyperlink may or may not be the official website for the zone. Additionally, not all of the websites provide information I am looking for (such as an email) and some are outdated. 

Charlotte County Fundy Culture Logo

Finding these websites was time consuming, and I only found some of them because, unlike the general public, I was already aware of the zoning. In fact, despite searching for the Sud-Est (francophone) network for over a month, I stumbled upon it one day while looking for something else.

Museums of Southeastern New Brunswick
I have only begun investigating how GNB assists these zones, but my search for websites has brought up a lot of questions, particularly around museum marketing and how the government assists these efforts.

North Eastern New Brunswick Network Logo
Why isn’t there coordination between the different sites? Some of the websites contain links to the other sites, but most of them do not and those that do only contain one or two network links. Isn’t it plausible that a visitor may benefit from information on multiple zones (especially when you can travel from one to the next very quickly)? Since the networks are all receiving assistance from the provincial government, doesn’t this open up the opportunity for coordination not only within, but also between regions?


Saint John Fundy Heritage Sone, New Brunswick
Saint John Fundy

I am a museum person, but if I cannot find information about a museum online, I will likely not go to the museum. I understand that initiative is expected from me because I am conducting research, but why are museums expecting visitors to do anything more than a quick Google search?

2 comments:

  1. I am curious about the extent to which this lack of digital interconnection between the regions and the institutions is due to their 'public' being mainly formed by local communities or the passerby or by word of mouth. If these, presumably, smaller museums and heritage sites can function year to year with that visitation while still receiving funding, I wonder if they are settling with that. Is it bad to settle for this? Perhaps the word 'settle' is therefore a bad choice. Furthermore, I am curious about the extent to which the diverse zones communicate and form connections among themselves, both as museum colleagues but also as potential advertisers of each other's institution, that are not apparent on the web.

    Just several curiosities I have, especially in light of there being (again, I am presuming in light of my visit to several of the sites with you!) a lot of smaller sites in more rural settings within these zones than say, while not really comparable to , the development of community and dialogue between institutions in Toronto.

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