We know that many of you are interested in the challenges small museums face when digitising their collections. In the Southland region of New Zealand, there is a fantastic project that is tackling those challenges head-on.
Project Ark is a two-year pilot to start to catalogue Southland’s heritage collections and share them online. The Pilot is a collaboration between the Invercargill City Council, the Southland District Council and the Gore District Council. It is funded by their combined heritage rates and overseen by the Southland Regional Heritage Committee.
Project Ark employs three roving cataloguers who bring their cataloguing, research, imaging and collection care skills to smaller museums. In return, museums share their deep knowledge of their collections and communities. It is this fusion and skill sharing that is at the heart of the Project.
The Pilot recognises the importance of the region working collectively to form a stronger and empowered community of care for collections and history. Project Ark lead David Luoni, and the team agreed: “It’s a partnership with museums to capture the local knowledge and stories that underpin their collections”.
Formal standards and procedures.
With the help of Vernon Systems, Project Ark uses eHive to fully catalogue the collections. Each museum has their own independent collection recorded on eHive and also publishes their records to a new eHive community called Museums of Southland, which functions as a regional portal. Records are also included in eHive.com and the NZ Museums website.
A lot of care and attention has gone into designing a solid foundation for cataloguing all the objects in Project Art. Project Ark has partnered with Vernon Systems to develop a set of standards to give each of the region’s museums a clear understanding of what information to enter into the database. This promotes best practice, self-help and consistency.
Te Papa’s National Services Te Paerangi is also a key partner, providing ongoing advice and several Expert Knowledge Exchanges across copyright, significance assessment and photography. NZ Micrographics provided their imaging systems experience and the imaging team at Auckland Museum also generously lent their expertise to the selection of photography equipment.
To date, Project Ark’s team has worked with 10 of Southland’s museums to catalogue and share 50 items chosen by each museum to establish partnerships and the seed of the regional database. For the remaining 18 months of the Pilot, the team will work with the volunteers at the Wyndham Museum to catalogue, image and pack its collection. The end goal is to partner with regional and national stakeholders and funders to resource the longer term roll out of the Project across all of Southland’s Museums. You can track the Pilot’s progress via these links: