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Future Museum marks another milestone

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Auckland War Memorial Museum's Future Museum strategy has marked another milestone in delivery with close to one million records now free and available to the public online.

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

"A key platform of Future Museum, published in 2012, has been to invest in our commitment to make the Museum's collections more accessible for everyone," says Roy Clare, Auckland Museum Director. "In four years we have made great strides to unlock the museum experience online, with a third of our collection records now digitised. By opening up so many records to the public across the country and around the world we have dramatically extended the reach of the internationally-significant collections we act as kaitiaki (guardian) for."

The records online include the living memorial Online Cenotaph and Collections Online. In May, over 250,000 of these records from the Museum’s natural sciences collection were added to an external resource, the Global Biodiversity information Facility (GBIF). Funded by governments around the world, the GBIF allows anyone, anywhere to access data about all types of life on Earth, and is shared across national boundaries via the Internet.

Collections Online was launched in July 2015 and nearly one year on, over three quarters of a million objects are freely accessible online with 2000 new objects being added every month. Auckland Museum is among the first museums in the world to exploit the advantages of ‘Linked Open Data’, sharing knowledge and presenting unprecedented opportunities for learning, research, and general interest. ‘Linked Open Data’ ensures that collections are transparent, automatically interconnected and easier and faster to search.

Access to the taonga (treasures) is free to the users around the world. This includes 375,688 images of which 200,000 are openly licensed for use and re-use. A dedicated photography team has taken over 36,720 high res images since November in a purpose-built photo studio inside the Museum, the first of its kind in New Zealand.

In addition a micro-photography project is underway to capture microscopic detail from type specimens in the Museums natural history collection. These images are now also available to researchers around the world through Collections Online and can be shared via social media

"These records are a free resource which can be used for learning, education or research," says Mr Clare. "It is our ambition for these online resources to be used by as many people as possible. Many of the simply stunning images are likely to be shared by people on social media simply for their sheer beauty and interest. And there are many more to come," he says.

"Collections Online has allowed us to digitally 'open up' the collection, enabling the public to better interact with the Museum," says Digital Collections Information Manager, Adam Moriarty. "Even if you never physically visit the museum, you will be able to view the collections online to see and study many of the objects that we care for."

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Another way the Museum is increasing public access includes Online Cenotaph, a living memorial launched in January last year for the personal and official memory of the people who served during conflict for New Zealand. It provides an easy-to-use starting point for families, schools, communities, researchers and people all over the world to explore and contribute to the content held about New Zealand service personnel.

"People have contributed freely to add knowledge to this resource," says Mr Clare. "Over 10,000 images have been added, including 45,000 notes to enrich the histories that we as a nation collectively hold."

"Our objective is to serve diverse peoples and communities whether here in Auckland, across New Zealand or globally. Our collections are more relevant than ever and they will continue to be increasingly accessible to everyone as we add to the database. Through the vision of Future Museum we are creating a global legacy for generations to come," Mr Clare concludes.

Future Museum online achievements by the numbers:

  • Close to one millions records online
  • 2000 new objects added every month
  • 555,443 images online across all databases
  • 148,464 service records on Online Cenotaph
  • 250,000 records uploaded to the Global Biodiversity information Facility