Reflecting on Museum Selfie Day

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

Social media trends never sleep, and every so often, there are trends, themes or days that I can’t help but jump onto (and who could have ever guessed Sea Shanties and Bernie Sanders would have taken off like they did in early 2021, but I digress).

Sometimes, these themes are a yearly tradition, and Museum Selfie Day is one of those days. Taking place on the third Wednesday of January, Museum Selfie Day “invites the general public to go to a museum and take a selfie. The day promotes awareness of great collections of work stored in museums” (from nationaldaycalendar.com).

In previous years, I ask the Visitor Hosts who want to participate to take pictures in their favourite exhibits, students we’re hosting and my museum colleagues will take part, and I spend the day running around the site looking for creative captions and interesting places around the houses to take a selfie.

Last January, we used the day as a chance to show off our storage spaces, hopefully demonstrating why the Oshawa Museum needs a new purpose built facility.

This year’s Museum Selfie Day looks different. We’re working from home, and I’m not able to run around the spaces I love looking for unique photo ops.

So how did we mark Museum Selfie Day 2021 if we aren’t able to be in museums? Jill had the clever idea to take selfies with mementoes from past museum visits, and so we grabbed museum catalogues from our bookshelves and took pictures.

People who work for museums, generally speaking, are museum lovers. We support museums in our community, we go on vacations and plan museum visits as must-sees. A year without travel means a year without visiting other museums. We were able to use Museum Selfie Day as a chance to reflect back on favourite museum experiences and to give shout outs to other museums we hold in high regard. Perhaps reflecting back on museum memories will be enough to hold us all over until we can safely visit museums once again!

Opening up our Collection to the Digital World

By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement

A common saying among staff at the Oshawa Community Museum is that our Museum is one of Oshawa’s best kept secrets.  People in the community either know about us and have visited, they have heard of us, or, surprisingly, some people were not aware that Oshawa had a Museum.  I love being able to tell people about the Oshawa Museum, who we are and what we do.  When you love your job, it’s easy to rave about it.

I love sharing with our visitors that they are touring through Oshawa’s oldest Museum.  Henry House first opened as a stand-alone Historic House Museum in 1960; by 1985, the Museum expanded to three historic buildings all standing on their original foundations.  This means that we have been actively collecting the history of the City of Oshawa for over 50 years.

Textile storage on the upper floor of Henry House.  Behind every closed door is storage space!
Textile storage on the upper floor of Henry House. Behind every closed door is storage space!

When our visitors are on tour, only a fraction of the collection is on display, and behind closed doors, we have storage for the material history of Oshawa.  Feature exhibitions, like Tales from the Tracks: The Oshawa Street Railway (2013), Lights, Cameras, Lenses: A JourneyThrough the History of Photography (2010), and Mourning After: A Victorian Celebration of Death (2009 and upcoming 2015) provide us the opportunity to tell stories from Oshawa’s past and highlight the artifacts and photographs that help tell the story.

Mourning clothing on display in 2009.  The Mourning After will return in Spring 2015.
Mourning clothing on display in 2009. The Mourning After will return in Spring 2015.

Our collection contains over 25,000 objects and over 10,000 photographs.  While it is completely unfeasible to have everything on display for visitors to see, the internet and social media has made it possible to open our collection in several creative ways.

Firstly, if you haven’t explored our online database, I highly recommend checking it out.  This resource has made it possible to share portions of our collection to a wide audience.  You can search for objects or photographs using the various search functions, but I like clicking the ‘Random Images’ tab, and I’m frequently surprised by what images or objects will be displayed. Visit http://oshawa.pastperfect-online.com to explore this resource.

Oshawa Museum Virtual Collections
Oshawa Museum Virtual Collections

The Oshawa Museum has been active on Facebook and Twitter for over 5 years, and we use these resources to share interesting facts and information, but also to share our collection.  On the last Wednesday of the month, Curator Melissa Cole posts a ‘What is it Wednesday’ on Facebook, sharing images of unusual artifacts and encouraging our fans to guess what it might be.  Photographs from Archivist Jennifer Weymark’s collection make for perfect Twitter content, sharing #WinterWednesday and #SummerSunday images.  Archival photographs also made excellent #ThrowbackThursday content for our Instagram account.  Jennifer and Melissa also share their collection through a monthly podcast series, accessible from our YouTube Channel.

A salt cellar, our What is it Wednesday for January 2015
A salt cellar, our What is it Wednesday for January 2015

Finally, this blog and other blogs we maintain, have provided us a forum to share information about artifacts, documents,  and photographs from our collection.  As well, by sharing stories from Oshawa’s past, about people, buildings or businesses, we’re able to use images to help illustrate those stories.  Along with our main blog (this page), we also maintain:

Our mandate is to preserve and actively promote Oshawa’s history, and the world wide web and social media has made it possible to achieve this mandate on a much larger scale.

Student Museum Musings – Helaina

By Helaina, Social Media Assistant Co-op Student

My experience as a co-op student here at the Oshawa Community Museum has been really good. I have learned so much during my five months here. Co-op is a different type of education, its hands on learning, it’s something that can’t always be provided for you at school. Co-op gives students a great opportunity to go out and work in the real world. I have learned about various different promotional techniques and skills here.

I was challenged with many different projects, but I loved working on all of them. I learned how to use programs like Photoshop, Moviemaker, and many others. All of the staff were so kind and welcoming to me here, I couldn’t have asked for a better placement. Unfortunately my semester is finished and I have to go back to full days at school. All I can say is that I had a great time working at the Museum and I will miss it next semester.

Sincerely, Helaina

Helping to decorate the tree in the Museum Shop
Helping to decorate the tree in the Museum Shop

Helaina working hard in the Archives
Helaina working hard in the Archives

21st Century Victorians - one of Helaina's last projects - here is a Victorian Selfie
21st Century Victorians – one of Helaina’s last projects – here is a Victorian Selfie

21st Century Victorians - Gangnam Style!
21st Century Victorians – Gangnam Style!

21st Century Victorians - YOLO
21st Century Victorians – YOLO

 

Many thanks, Helaina, for all of your hard work, creativity, and dedication this semester! We’ve all enjoyed working with you, and all the best for your future studies!