By Chris Faulknor, Publisher & Benjamin J. Gohs, Editor
The first joint meeting of the Boyne Heritage Center and Boyne City Historical Commission was held Monday Sept. 30 to allow board members to discuss a number of topics including progress, fundraising, and protocol regarding the city’s museum and related artifacts collections.
Larry Taylor, representing the heritage center, said a desire has been expressed that both boards work closer together.
“We wanted to start out by saying we want the historical commission to be a partner,” Taylor said. “Not that you haven’t been but (we) wanted to make sure we state that publicly that we’ve gotta find a way to work closer. And, again, we’d much rather have you in the tent than outside of the tent.”
Some on the historical commission said that has been their goal since day one but that there has “definitely been a lack of communication.”
“I don’t know the history,” said Taylor. “All I know is that we will get a much better result by having more people focused on the endgame.”
Taylor said the cataloging and scanning of artifacts is in progress.
“Obviously it is a huge task and there is a lot to do,” he said. “And, to tell you that we’re ten percent done would be wrong. And there’s just more to do than there’s hours in the day.”
Taylor added, “The objective is to get our arms around all of the artifacts and then being able to digitize that will give us a good feel for what we have.”
The next step, once cataloging is finished, will be to figure out what to do for the museum.
Michele Hewitt of the historical commission said her concern was whether the equipment provided to the heritage center was being utilized, that there is an agreement that the items that are scanned or photographed stay on the computer that the historical commission purchased for the museum and not on a private computer.
She also said someone has put some of the items on their personal computer—something the historical commission explicitly did not want to see happen.
“We’re losing control over the artifacts if they’re going in places they have not been given permission to go,” Hewitt said. “So, we have a real strong concern.”
According to the heritage center, none of the three scanners worked with the computer it is using to catalog.
The heritage center representatives said only one photo was posted in that manner and it was in order to garner interest in the museum.
Taylor asked why they aren’t simply scanning to “the cloud” and what the concern is with that.
Some on the historical commission are concerned that the city must be able to control the use of artifacts and how they’re used, and that those artifacts should be watermarked and/or otherwise identified as Boyne City property.
Taylor said his board agrees but that holding artifacts on one computer is dangerous due to potential hard drive failure and that putting items on the cloud doesn’t mean just anyone can have access to it.
Discussion over how the photos should be credited when posted on social media was then had.
“Why we’re doing this … is because this is City of Boyne City’s property,” said Asuka Barden. “Residents of the city donated their family heirlooms and old photos to the old museum hoping that they would preserve and protect those pieces. So, that has to be central when considering how everything’s being used. That being said, the agreement in our bylaws as a museum or as a heritage center—if we were to ever fall apart, worst-case scenario, all of the artifacts would go back to the city.”
The agreement made back in February was for the museum to use City of Boyne City’s photographs for its own benefit—to fund-raise, for publications, etc.
“If property is all over the place and potentially being used for profit for somebody else, or for whatever it might be, then we no longer have control to use that for our own property,” said Barden.
Taylor said, “Are you suggesting that’s the case now because that’s not the intent.”
She said no but that to operate in a gray area is problematic, and that the agreements made shouldn’t be “thrown out the window.”
“I’m missing something here,” said Taylor.
“I believe that, after the February meeting, it was only a matter of weeks that the agreement was broken,” Barden said, adding that things were taken.
Taylor asked what was taken and where it was taken.
One historical commission member said, “We don’t wanna feel like we have to be this watchdog that has to watch everything.”
Taylor said if any agreement has been broken, it was accidental.
Historical commission members said there needs to be a rule that items are not removed from the museum without being properly checked out.
Currently, nothing in the museum is locked up.
Discussion was then had over whether an alarm should be put on the door to ensure people keep it closed, and who is responsible for the door not closing by itself.
They also discussed not allowing people from the farmers market to store items in the museum nor to allow people to go in there without good reason.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said the city needs to know more precisely what it has so it can flesh-out museum displays.
“We’ve finished stage two of the four designs,” said Kecia Freed of the Boyne Heritage Center… “[T]he design is blocked out with our major content items. But, within each section this next phase of the design is going to be the real nitty-gritty where we go and we decide exactly which stories, which images to use, which artifacts to display. So, the sooner we can get everything cataloged so we know what we have then … the more likely we are to really make sure we’re getting the good stuff.”
She added, “I doubt that we’ll be done cataloging everything by the time we open. Hopefully we’ll open before that. But some of it can be done in temporary shows or temporary displays.”
Freed said they’re hoping to make giant wall graphics of some of the better images.
Discussion ensued over whether it was putting the cart before the horse to design displays and shows before the museum space was complete.
One board member said having displays put together will help the museum raise both awareness and funds to finish the project.
Laura Sansom of the historical commission said all of the items from the museum, which she primarily boxed and color coded, have been cataloged and itemized.
“Those are the main boxes for the exhibits,” she said. “Everything else is secondary.”
However, heritage center representatives said the big project right now is going through the many boxes of photos … “the real meat and potatoes.”
Sansom said the small photographs were already sent to the library to be scanned.
But, it turns out that those pictures were not scanned but merely photographed instead and those files are not high-resolution enough for museum use.
Having the files properly scanned will allow for cross-referencing and facial recognition to make putting the stories of photos and photo collections—and even the stories behind artifacts—together.
“We’re probably moving in the right direction,” Sansom said, adding that she did the best she could with what she had to work with at the time.
More discussion was had regarding where historical photos are allowed to be posted on social media.
Some said the pictures should only be posted through the official museum page.
Others said posting photos on personal Facebook pages is a good way to garner public interest and potentially gather more information about the city’s historical photos.
Discussion over an apparently missing display case that was brought down to the museum and intended to exhibit some items while the museum project continues was also had.
The original plan, by some among the board members, was to get the museum painted and allow people to come in and get an idea of what the museum will look like.
However, some would rather the space be used for working on cataloging the city’s artifacts.
What happens now?
It was asked whether the boards could work together and get the museum ready by the spring but no definitive answer was reached.
Fundraising schedules were also briefly discussed.
The historical commission said it has a schedule but the heritage center does not have such a schedule yet because it is considering ideas.
Sansom said fundraising should be planned well in advance because groups which grant moneys plan their giving a year ahead of time.
Heritage board representatives said their presentations to local charitable organizations and service groups have been very well received.
The ultimate consensus was that progress is being made but there is much work left to do.