3rd party collections

The only significant thing that the Aurora Historical Society has collected in the past ten years is debt. So much so that their unsustainability is apparent in the obvious scrambling and scheming of their activities over the past 3 years. It is cemented in their annual financial reports.

More on that in some future posts.

There seems to be some discussion over on Clr. Buck’s blog here: http://evelynmbuck.blogspot.ca/2014/01/raiders-of-lost-artifacts.html with regards to the transfer of the Aurora collection last year which brought to light some significant shortcomings in the handling of said collection.

I witnessed these first hand back in September 2012 when the public was allowed to view the collection for the first time in probably a decade. I commented on the appalling display here:

It was obvious to anyone who has seen the current state of the collection that the Aurora Historical Society blatantly voided a section of The Memorandum of Understanding between the Town and the AHS (PR12-010) that read:

THAT the Aurora Historical Society has ensured that Museum and Heritage
Standards including conservation, preservation and administration of the Aurora Collection have been maintained.

They did not.

Back in March of last year the CAM group ( http://www.camgroup.ca/ ) gave a
presentation to council as to their inventory of the collection. They explicitly laid out numerous conservation and preservation failings that have likely cost a rapid degradation to items in the collection.

More alarming, and what has been picked up on in Clr. Buck’s blog is that 1,400 items remain unaccounted for. From a collection of 16,000 that is a notable percentage.

What is mind boggling is Clr. Buck’s belief that:

“Under the circumstances , it’s not surprising the collection is not complete. There certainly isn’t anyone to blame.”

Actually there are two parties to blame.

First and foremost is the Aurora Historical Society and their board of directors.
They are 100% responsible to those who gifted them artifacts.

The Aurora Historical Society Gift Agreement of 2012 reads:

I hereby give and bequeath to the Aurora Historical Society the objects listed herein, and in so doing I understand and agree that they may be displayed, loaned, retained, or disposed of in such manner as, in the discretion of the
Society, may be in the best interests of the public.

The “best interests of the public” have clearly not been upheld.

I know of more than a handful of Aurora families, mine included that have withheld donations of artifacts due to the sloppy methodologies and practice of the Aurora Historical Society.

The second party to blame is the town, who through several councils have willfully shoveled a $50,000 grant to the Aurora Historical Society without doing their due diligence to see how those funds were being used.

The Historical Society is quite proud of securing grants. They use one to secure others. In 2012 That $50,000 grant from the town accounted for 36% of their revenue. 2 other grants from the province accounted for an additional $27,000.

Yet strangely enough the # of accessioned / cataloged artifacts fell to 1,293 from 2,142 the previous year.

Money is dispensed from the town, and the Province for a service.

That service has not been performed with any degree of satisfaction.

Since when did being a volunteer organization absolve itself from being responsible?

The fact that the town lost it’s ability to showcase it’s history was only insulted further by the nonsense that it didn’t even “own” it, as I commented on here:

When the town assumed ownership of the collection last year there was a collective sigh of relief in the community because the new common understanding is that the abhorrent mistreatment of the town’s artifacts at the hands of the Aurora Historical Society would come to an end.

Who will assume that responsibility is yet to be determined. A RFP for museum services closed this past week. The Error Banner reported here:
http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4196739-town-taking-another-step-on-aurora-collection/ that 3 organizations were in the running as of late last year.

They are:

1.) The Aurora “Cultural” Centre
2.) The Aurora Historical Society
3.) Cultural Asset Management Group

Given that the Aurora Historical society has proven themselves incapable of the job, and the Aurora Cultural Centre had demonstrated they are unwilling to do so by relegating the collection to a single room method of elimination leaves us with the CAM Group.

Clr. Buck is correct that the $50,000 “museum” grant currently in the 2014 operating budget is an unreasonable request, and one that requires some more examination in future posts.

Watts on your mind?

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