What do a quilt made during the New Zealand wars, fern type specimens from the Philippines and a collection of thousands of photographs by a single photographer have in common? Each of these items were brought to light during a recent and unprecedented project at Auckland Museum to help open up, digitise and make more accessible its vast collections.
It is a bolt of euphoria, a surge of delight, when a collection technician discovers a special gem that has been waiting to be uncovered for so long. And many of these moments have happened over the past three and a half years as a result of the Collections Cataloguing Project (CCP). Read on below for the stories of some of these exciting discoveries.
Background to the Collections Cataloguing Project
At any given time about three percent of our total collection is on display in the Museum. So, what of the other 97 percent?
The vast majority of our Human History, Natural Sciences and Documentary Heritage collections are held within the Museum’s extensive storage facilities. They contain precious objects and taonga which hold histories of people and knowledge of flora and fauna of Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.
With limited exhibition space, how does the Museum make these items visible? In years gone by, if someone wanted to access an item in our collection not on display, they would have to make an appointment and physically visit the Museum.
In 2016, Auckland Museum embarked on an ambitious and inspiring project to transform our Museum. Part of this is the major building works currently taking place, and within this, to enable collections for new galleries, public programmes and Collections Online, is a programme called the Collections Cataloguing Project. This programme aims to make as much of our collections available online as possible, so people can access them anytime, anywhere.
Prior to this project, there were many items that had yet to be digitized.. These objects and specimens had been acquired at some date between the earliest days of the Museum in the 1860s and an arbitrary more recent date, such as 31 December 2012. If resources, time and expertise were available at the time of acquisition, objects were registered and processed but this was not always possible. So, a great many objects had been safely tucked away awaiting the moment that they can receive this attention. For some, this has been many years in waiting, but with the CCP, their time to shine has come!
Here we look at an item from each of our collections which has been made accessible online as part of the CCP.