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NEWSLETTER

Volume 10, #2                       August 24, 2007
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Inside:
SMMP Meetings
Tentative Denver Agenda
President's Message
SMMP List Server
Meeting Minutes
SMMP Affiliations
CSM Reception
Tracking Dues

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Board of Directors

President
Virgil W. Lueth
New Mexico Bureau of Mines
801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801, USA

Past Pres. & Newsletter Ed.
Anthony R. Kampf
Nat. Hist. Mus. of Los Angeles Co.
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007, USA

Vice President
Terry Huizing
Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203

Secretary
Jean F. DeMouthe
California Academy of Science
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

Treasurer
Anna M. Domitrovic
6118 W. Lazy Heart Street
Tucson, AZ 85713

Terry Ottaway

Gemological Institute of America
5345 Armada Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Jeffery E. Post

Dept. of Mineral Sciences, MRC-119
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20560

 

Jamie Newman
Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West @ 79th St.
New York, NY 10024

Penny Williamson
School of Geosciences
University of Wollongong
NSW 2522 Australia

 

DENVER MEETINGS

Date: Friday, Sept. 14, 2007
Place: Denver Merchandise Mart
Board Meeting: 1:30 - 2:00 PM
Membership Meeting: 2:00 - 3:00 PM
 

Denver Exhibit: Lead Minerals
Please notify Jean DeMouthe if you have specimens for our exhibit.

TENTATIVE DENVER AGENDA 

  1. Call to Order
  2. Introductions
  3. Approval of the Tucson Meeting Minutes
  4. Treasurers Report
  5. Membership Report
  6. Collections/Curators Committee Report
  7. Education Comm. Denver exhibit, Tucson exhibit & program
  8. Best Practices initiative
  9. New Business

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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

The fabulous fall show in Denver is about to begin indicating another half a year has passed since Tucson. Looking back on the minutes of the last meeting, I'm always impressed on how many things I had hoped to accomplish for the society by this time but other projects/chores conspire to prevent my progress. I enjoy the diversity of tasks a curator must accomplish but it seems one must always be adjusting priorities. The lead editorial in the recent Mineralogical Record calling on museums to photograph their collections gave me pause and provided me the inspiration for this letter.

Initially the editorial on museums and mineral photography caused me irritation. I did a quick review of some "policies and procedures" posted on our website and in my files and saw that most museums have adequate provisions for mineral specimen photography. "What is the problem?" I asked myself. In addition, there is nothing like the words,  "taxpayers" and "constituents" coupled with "obligation" and "goals" that always rubs me the wrong way. I don't think anyone likes to be told how to do his or her job, especially one like ours that requires delicate balancing acts performed at a moments notice. However, I went back and read the piece over a couple of more times with a more open mind and hopefully absorbed the piece as it was intended - a plea for museums to become even more accessible via documenting their collections via "high-resolution" photography.

I speak from my experience on this subject and I realize other museums have different realities but perhaps we do share a few things in common. Portions of our collection have been photographed since before my arrival (I believe Mark and Debra Wilson initiated the photo documentation). We have our best pieces photographed professionally when finances allow and I take digital images for symposia, cataloging, and public request. Both of these approaches require something in high demand but in short supply for museums - time and money. Professional photography is not cheap, but I do believe we get our money's worth when it is done. High quality specimen photography by staff is time consuming and not something that can be done frequently (or necessarily very well). However, well-focused and representative images performed with a digital camera for the purpose of cataloging are routine procedure. We keep original, silver-based slides/prints from professionals in archival storage and generally use high-resolution tiffs for printing/publication and publish low-res JPEGs on the internet along with our catalog images. Our result is an internet gallery with a potpourri of images of variable quality.

A point of contention I have with the editorial is that publication quality images should have a priority over "curatorial-quality" images. The latter is quicker, cheaper, and arguably more important to the ultimate preservation of the specimen and collection. They can be posted on the internet and the taxpayers can see what we have. If constituents want high-resolution images, perhaps they should pay for them. Although addressing the "financial factor" does not necessarily mitigate the "time factor." Another important point to consider is that many professional photographers retain copyright on the images - so the museum does not actually own the picture. I know some taxpayers who would find spending public money on something the public doesn't own objectionable.

I hear and understand the call for photographing museum collections. My experience and research indicates to me that most museums are moving toward providing the "virtual collection" experience to the public. Museum budget and staff limitations slow the pace of making this a reality and we all know that activities that protect the collection are the most important. As I said in the beginning of this letter, priorities must be set and we work at a pace we can sustain, financially and temporally. But, it never hurts to listen to calls from the outside to make museums more accessible to all. Perhaps I have time to take a few pictures before leaving for Denver... wait, I need to catalog donation 07-09 so I can exhibit the new pieces at the show... but first I have to finish that manuscript for that special issue...

See you there,

Virgil W. Lueth, President

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SMMP LIST SERVER

You are encouraged to interact with your fellow SMMP members via our list server:

smmp@listserv.nhm.org

Please remember that when you reply to an email sent via our list server, you will be replying to the sender, although you have the option of copying the membership.

Tony Kampf processes additions to and deletions from the list server. That way we can limit the list to our membership and if a member decides that they want to be dropped from the list, Tony will know whether to send them the SMMP Newsletter by snail mail. Note that you are only be able to send via the list server by using your email address that is on the list server. This should be the same one that is used in our on-line roster.

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Click on the link below to go to the minutes:

MINUTES OF THE TUCSON MEETING
February 2007

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SMMP AFFILIATIONS

American Geological Institute (AGI)

Natural Science Collections Alliance NSCA)

Although the Society of Mineral Museum Professionals maintains no official ties with the Commission on Museums (CM) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), the Commission resolved at its December, 2000, meeting in Melbourne, Australia, to support SMMP's efforts in uniting mineral museum professionals worldwide.

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Colorado School of Mines
Museum Open House

What has become an annual event, the Geology Museum of the Colorado School of Mines will be hosting an open house prior to the start of the Denver Show.  The open house is scheduled for 7:30 � 10:00 p.m. and located at 1310 Maple Street in Golden, Colorado.  Hors d�oeuvres, cash bar, live music and a silent auction highlight the gala event.

The Museum is located across from the Steinhauer Field House. A detailed CSM map is available at www.mines.edu/csm_maps/. For further information, contact: (303) 273-3823 or email: geomuseum@mines.edu

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TRACKING DUES

SMMP dues are $10.00 U.S., payable to Anna Domitrovic, treasurer, 6118 W. Lazy Heart Street, Tucson, AZ 85713. Any directory changes or additions should be sent to Tony Kampf. In Europe, dues can be remitted to Peter Davidson, National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, SCOTLAND.

Note that you can check your dues payment status on the SMMP on-line roster. The year shown in the last column indicates the last year for which you have paid. If you are delinquent, please remit your dues payment as soon as possible.


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