Ottawa House undergoing site assessment

Andrew Wagstaff
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Conservator reviewing materials, procedures at museum

PARRSBORO – This town’s most historic structure was not under review this week, but its archives were.
Ottawa House By-the-Sea museum was visited this week by conservator Julia Landry, for the purpose of conducting a site assessment that is necessary for many of the museum’s archival endeavours, such as grant applications.

Conservator Julia Landry (left) goes over some material with Ottawa House By-the Sea Museum archivist June Wagstaff at the museum this week, as part of a site assessment process for the museum’s archives.

As members of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, Ottawa House is applying for funding support from the department of Communities, Culture and Heritage through its Provincial Archival Development Program (PADP.)

“The site assessment is basically the first thing you have to do,” said Landry. “They won’t let you do anything else unless you have a site assessment because they want to know where the problems are, and what the priorities are. The site has its priorities that may not necessarily be the priorities from my perspective.”

Landry will produce a report following her visit that will include an executive summary outlining areas that need immediate attention, as well as priorities that might carry significant costs and need to be looked at further down the road.

She visited the museum on Dec. 4-5, meeting with archivists June Wagstaff and Conrad Byers.

“I’m looking at the site itself, looking at what it has in terms of collections and how they keep it, what they do with it, what their hopes, dreams and aspirations are,” said Landry. “I’m not a structural engineer, but I also look at the building, for signs like downspouts that don’t carry water far enough away from the base of the building.”

A detailed questionnaire looks for information such as the building’s age, date of its last roof replacement, heritage listing, staffing, and anything that might impact on its collections, she explained.

When complete, the report will go back to the museum.

“We will try to improve on what she suggests, and carry on from there so we know which direction we should go next for what we do here and how we preserve things,” said Wagstaff.

The site assessment is usually the first thing asked for if the museum applies for funding, according to Landry.

“Hopefully it will provide them with an informational document they can use to develop their archives,” she said. “If they have an area that needs specific attention, they can lobby for some funding. The assessment might say they need to address a problem, so they can seek funding to address that problem. It provides a bit of weight to their argument.”

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Ottawa House, Council of Nova Scotia Archives, Department of Communities

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