By Judith Taylor, South Island Museum Development Adviser | Kaiwhanake Whare Taonga, National Services Te Paerangi
Project Ark: growing a community of care for collections in Southland
Southland’s innovative pilot to start to catalogue and digitize the region’s collections is underway.
The team at National Services Te Paerangi is working with Southland museums through a regional training and support partnership plan. We have been involved in the pilot’s development over the last year. The partnership involves ongoing advice, peer reviews and several Expert Knowledge Exchanges.
Victoria Leachman (Te Papa Rights Manager, Digital Content) visited through the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme recently. She ran a very successful workshop on Copyright for museum staff in the region and then helped set up Copyright protocols for cataloguing.
“The leadership demonstrated by Jim Geddes and David Luoni and the enthusiasm for the task ahead held by Tiffany, Dani, and Laurence was inspiring,” said Victoria. “I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with the team and hearing about their progress. This is an initiative that will not only help those smaller Southland heritage organisations to document their collections but will also have a beneficial long term impact on the ability for the wider Southland community to access their cultural heritage.”
Project Ark team: Collection Cataloguers Tiffany Jenks and Laurence Le Ber, Project co-ordinator David Luoni, and Collections Photographer Dani Lucas
Next I spent several days working with the team of four and with Jo Massey (Roving Museum Officer, Southland), refining significance assessing tools and cataloguing protocols. This was a team exercise, developing sector best practice and recognising the importance of the region working collectively to form a stronger and empowered community of care for collections and history. David and the team agreed: “It’s a partnership with museums to capture the local knowledge and stories that underpin the collections”.
After setting up systems and workflow the Gore based team will spend six months cataloguing and photographing the ‘top 50’ items chosen by the 14 participating museums while sharing practical skills and building capacity with volunteers and staff. For the remainder of the two year pilot the team will fully catalogue, image and pack Wyndham Museum’s collection.
Team members have a wide range skills: technical, preservation, photography and historical research. They are excited by the new opportunity to work in the region’s museums on this project. They observe that regional collections are often undervalued and under resourced, and that there is limited knowledge in the wider museum sector of the depth of history and collections in smaller communities.
Project Ark will be using eHive with the help of Vernon Systems Ltd to fully catalogue the collections and eventually posting items to the NZ Museums website, eHive.com and a new eHive community called Museums of Southland, which will function as the regional portal.
To ensure a regional approach, the Southland Museum and Art Gallery is also actively cataloguing and imaging its collection, which will also be shared through the regional portal.
Project Ark is funded through Southland’s regional heritage rate ($31.54 plus GST per rate payer) and is an initiative of Southland Regional Heritage Committee a combined committee of the Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and Gore District Council.
Eventually the developed technical and collaborative aspects of this regional initiative project will be shared with the wider sector and the team’s experiences may encourage other regions to look at developing similar projects. Once collections are catalogued and this knowledge shared, the sector will be in a better position to make planning and resourcing decisions. NSTP can assist.
The team have set up Facebook and Instagram pages to share their journey.
Digitising film with a Helping Hand in Glenorchy
A fledgling museum development project in one of the remotest parts of the South Island, Glenorchy Museum has been keen to use the on-site advice and small grants that NSTP can provide and recently received a Helping Hands Grant (HHG) to digitise film.
Leslie van Gelder, Chair wrote: “We were thrilled with the success of our project…we were able to digitize films no one had seen for 50 years and last night we were able to show them in the hall to many of the people who’d been children in many of the films. Brought a lot of tears to eyes for them to see old school picnics and flower shows and people long gone.
We’ll be showing the films again for the wider community and we hope in Queenstown, too. And, as we’d really hoped, after people saw the films, a number came forward saying that they thought they might have films and slides in their attics, too, and if we were able to help pay for digitizing they would be happy to have them done so that we could do the same again next year.
So it was a huge success and …. we wouldn’t have been able to afford to do this work if it hadn’t been for the grant.”
The Helping Hand grant is non-competitive and open from 1 July to 30 April each financial year (or until funds run out). The grant can be used for a wide variety of collection and heritage related purposes.
Other larger building project happenings in museums in the South include new heritage centres planned for Rolleston in Canterbury and at Te Anau in Fiordland. Others are in the early planning stages. If your project, whether large or small, needs advice, feedback or support especially in the early stages of planning, we can help.
South Island Museum Development Adviser | Kaiwhanake Whare Taonga
National Services Te Paerangi