Six regional areas across the State will have their collections digitally brought to life with close to $1.26 million in funding, made available under the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund.
Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the funding will enhance digitisation capabilities across NSW and improve access to important regional collections.
“I am thrilled this funding will support greater access and engagement with our regional museums and collections, and allow for the digitisation of significant artworks, museum objects and archives, while upskilling and employing professionals and volunteers in the field.
“These six projects will kickstart digitisation in the regions by injecting funds for much needed specialised equipment, training and resources, creating a scalable mechanism to continue preserving our amazing regional collections into the future.
“The partnership model means regional hubs will be able to share equipment and expertise with the smaller, and potentially volunteer-run, museums, galleries and Aboriginal Keeping Places in the area, passing on the technical skills that digitisation requires,” said Mr Harwin.
Highlights of the digitised collections will also be showcased on the Museums & Galleries of NSW Collections and Stories website, which will be further developed and launched as part of this funding. This platform will provide a ‘virtual regional museum’ to explore, research, educate and connect the unique collections of NSW.
The six digitisation projects will deliver an innovative hub and spoke model that will create and enhance partnerships between established and emerging digitisation hubs.
Albury City Council – Murray Region Digitisation Hub ($233,965) – This funding will establish a digitisation workshop space and studio at Albury Library Museum that will in turn provide digitisation capability to seven community museums and collecting organisations in the Murray region including Culcairn Station Masters House Museum; Flying Fruit Fly Circus; Headlie Taylor Header Museum; Holbrook Submarine Museum; Jindera Pioneer Museum; Woolpack Inn Museum; and Wymah School House Museum. Specialised digitisation equipment will be purchased, and professional training programs implemented to build and maintain the skills and capacity of individual museums, facilitating the digitisation of at least 400 objects. Council and partners will continue to offer regular digitisation training, a collection database and equipment availability to each organisation into the future.
Lake Macquarie City Council – Lake Stories ($64,039) – Lake Macquarie City Council, in conjunction with four regional museums and historical societies (West Wallsend District Heritage Group Incorporated; History of East Lake Macquarie Group; Lake Macquarie District History Society and Morisset Hospital Museum), will digitise 500 significant objects and stories that help to tell Lake Macquarie’s unique regional story.
The project seeks to make accessible objects and stories that have never before been available to communities in order to generate new appreciation for the history and heritage of the area. Led by Lake Macquarie City Council, the digitised objects will be made available to the community through the ‘Collections and Stories’ website and also on a e-hive platforms developed for each museum to assist with future digitisation and access. The stories and objects will be brought together through an e-hive community forming a digital exhibition.
Maitland City Council – Digital Collections: Opened Minds ($478,000) – This initiative aims to digitise and unify into a single online space the cultural collections significant to and held within the Maitland community. A digital hub will be established at Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) that interacts with collections held by MRAG, Maitland Libraries, Maitland Gaol, Morpeth Museum and the Old Maitland Hospital. Funding will go towards the purchase of a collection management system, the digitisation of prioritised collections and the development of new narratives that interpret the newly unified digital collection. New staff positions will also be created with digital management, digital design, collection interpretation and community engagement and capacity building expertise, to enable digitisation to continue long-term.
Shoalhaven City Council – Digital Buzz: Digitising Shoalhaven’s Collections ($132,481) – This funding will support five volunteer led museums in the Shoalhaven – Lake Tabourie Museum, Bomaderry Children’s Home; Berry Historical Society, Kangaroo Valley Historical Society and Milton Ulladulla Historical Society to significantly improve their digital and online interactions through the purchase of a digital content management system (CMS), set up of a digitisation studio and upskilling volunteers and staff to ensure long term sustainability. The project will see the digitisation of more than 200 items from Shoalhaven Collections, published on e-hive in both individual collection sub domains and a ‘Shoalhaven Museums’ community. The images created through the project, and beyond will be stored in Council’s Digital Asset Management System for safety and future access, and the digital studio created during the project will be used by both primary and secondary partners to continue generating new digital assets and enhanced accessibility and engagement with collections across the Shoalhaven.
Tamworth Regional Council – Endless Access – New England North West Collection Digitisation ($309,051) – Tamworth Regional Gallery is partnering with five local museums and collections (Tamworth Powerstation Museum; Australian Country Music Collections; Rocks, Gems, Minerals and Fossil Collections; Moonbi Museum; Tamworth Regional Film and Sound Archive) to digitise the collections, establish a permanent studio set up, offer essential training, provide online exhibitions and employ professional museum contractors, including designated First Nations positions to better support access to and engagement with the museums and their collections. The project will provide digitisation training and support to the New England North West museum sector as part of a process of learning, knowledge sharing, sustainability and digitisation to national standards.
Warrumbungle Shire Council – Cameron Collection – ($41,850) – The first project under the Warrumbungle Shire Council initiative is Coolah and District Historical Society’s digitisation of the research of Roy Cameron, OAM. Mr Cameron’s unique and invaluable research, written over a period of 63 years, captures the history of Coolah and environs in an accessible form and the digitisation of his research will provide access to local history for both the community and other researchers. This important project will provide the digitisation capacity, skills and impetus for future collaborations with additional historical societies and volunteer organisations in the area.
The Regional Cultural Fund was established by the NSW Government to support the development of cultural infrastructure in regional NSW that enables bold, exciting and diverse arts and cultural activities. The focus of Rounds One and Two of the Regional Cultural Fund were to support built infrastructure. The digitisation round has been established to increase digitisation capabilities, including equipment, software and technology to support digitisation in regional NSW.