Archive for September, 2009

‘Now and Then’ wiki launched: Darren Peacock

Web developer Darren Peacock takes CAN Partners behind the scenes to explain what was involved in designing and building the Mallala Now and Then wiki. The innovative community heritage wiki website, launched last week, uses the principles of crowdsourcing to gather material about the small South Australian township of Mallala. This pilot project was developed by the Collections Council of Australia (CCA) and there are plans for it to be rolled out to other towns across the country. Darren tells the CAN community a little bit about how he built the wiki and what he expects to come out of the project.

Mallala is a small township of some 500 people in rural South Australia, with an active group of volunteers running the local museum. The Collection Connections project, funded by the CCA with a grant from the .auda Foundation, worked with the Mallala Museum volunteers to explore new ways of recording, preserving and sharing local history using Web 2.0 approaches and technologies. The objective of the project is to develop a sustainable business model and technology platform to enable small collecting organisations to create and manage participative online heritage projects. The wiki website that has now emerged demonstrates the potential of wiki-based collaboration to create and nurture communities of interest, enliven the presentation of history and develop new information management and knowledge sharing paradigms and practices for small, volunteer-based, collecting organisations. Through this pilot implementation at Mallala, the project aims to investigate the factors which contribute to the success of such online initiatives and to identify those which inhibit or impede its success.

The potential of wikis as knowledge sharing platforms for cultural heritage has been discussed for some time, but we believe this is the first time in Australia such an approach has been used.

Grace Plains Football Team

The Now and Then website was developed on the MediaWiki platform, an open source wiki software which provides the basis for the world’s most famous wiki, Wikipedia. While Wikipedia draws on the efforts of millions of volunteers from around the world, the Now and Then wiki is powered by the efforts and enthusiasm of a small, but growing number of local volunteers. The wiki platform for Now and Then is integrated with content sharing sites Flickr and YouTube, as well as delivering RSS from the museum blog which has been established by the project using the Wordpress tool. Google Maps is used to display content articles in an interactive map that provides a geo-spatial dimension on the area’s history.

Charles Osborne Trounson was promoted from Mounted Counstable to Foot Police in 1885 and worked at Mallala Police Station between until 9 November 1887 and 30 June 1888.

Content in Now and Then is organised into topic based ‘articles’ like Wikipedia. The articles are organised into the categories of places, people, organisations, events and things. Of course, many items provide rich links of association across these categories, which encourages lateral and serendipitous searching across the site.

Registered users of the site can add, edit and comment on the articles within the wiki and discuss them with other users. In this way, the wiki opens up a lively discourse about local history and promotes extensive knowledge sharing and information exchange. Even at this early stage, a much richer picture of the connections amongst local history, heritage and memory is emerging for this community.

The model underpinning Now and Then is highly extensible and can be replicated across any number of other communities. A design decision was made to employ MediaWiki’s semantic extension to ensure that the content created within the Now and Then wiki is available for aggregation and reuse across regions or particular items of interest, such as buildings, collection objects or organisational histories.

The pilot implementation of Now and Then is an action research project, exploring potential applications of Web 2.0 technologies in a volunteer-run collecting organisation. The key design considerations for the project were creating an appropriate business model, effective participation design and long-term sustainability.

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Architectural drawings for flour mill, Mallala

So far the Now and Then site has been well received within the local community and is generating high levels of interest and participation. The museum is experiencing significant new levels of engagement and receiving more visits and offers of historical images, objects and information.

The success of the initial implementation of Now and Then in Mallala provides confidence and a practical research basis to proceed with further implementations in diverse communities across Australia once further sources of funding are secured.

Darren Peacock, Sweet Technology Pty Ltd
Project Manager, Now and Then
For Collections Council of Australia

If you would like to know more about wikis or the ‘Now and Then’ wiki project email the Collections Council or Darren.


Virtual exhibitions in Second Life: Gillian Raymond

National Portrait Gallery online manager Gillian Raymond has curated a series of virtual exhibitions in Second Life – exploring the possibilities of making and exhibiting art online. Doppelganger will launch next month and looks at the concepts of constructed self, identity, truth and illusion in the digital realm. The NPGs first virtual exhibiton in Second Life was held in 2007, focusing on animated self-portraits. Gillian talks how web-based exhibitions are not necessarily about attracting new audiences but allowing existing audiences to be challenged in different ways.

Doppelganger, online exhibition, 23 October 2009 – 23 March 2010

We are developing online exhibitions. We had one in 2007 – animated self-portraits. That sat as an exhibition only on the website. It didn’t actually have a physical presence in the gallery. We commissioned 12 animators to develop self-portraits for that particular exhibition and built it together into the website.

The next one is going to be launched in October, and that’s based in Second Life. That’s an exhibition called Doppelganger, that’s dealing with our concepts of identity in a digital realm and the idea of self-construction and self-presentation in those realms.

We’ve got five artists, from around the world, who are building artworks on Portrait Island. That’s a pretty exciting project for us.

A scene from Portrait Island

You set up Portrait Island in Second Life?
Yes, I got someone to design it. Again, I don’t have the skills. I barely have these skills to walk around, but I’m getting there.

Is there a move to be developing more virtual exhibitions and have things to attract your audiences into the website such as the picture shows you’ve been doing?
We are developing some really interesting online things actually. What’s on in the physical space doesn’t always work with the opportunities that the online environment presents.

The online environment is not a substitute for a face-to-face experience with an artwork, in my opinion. I think there are some things, for example: the type of crops that we have on our express pages of the artworks may tell you something else, will tell you something further about the artwork if they are designed in a particular way.

I really think that there is no real substitute for actually experiencing that artwork in the flesh. You’re always going to be just seeing a reproduction on the website. But if galleries start moving toward curating online exhibitions, I think they can really work with the opportunities that it presents. Give a different slant on things, and take people into different directions. Try things that they won’t experience in the physical space.

That’s the philosophy that’s behind Second Life and the Second Life exhibition, is that we didn’t want to reproduce the National Portrait Gallery in Second Life. What’s the point? You can come to the real thing.

We wanted to take what Second Life can do. I mean, people can fly for a start; that presents all kinds of opportunities in itself. So we wanted to take that concept. And you can’t, in Second Life, expect visitors to sit there and read reams of a catalogue essay or a wall-text, which they may do in a physical space.

So they’re just little examples of the opportunities that can be presented if people think more about the medium that they’re operating in.

You must be building a very different audience in Second Life audience compared with in the physical space.
I don’t know if they’re necessarily different audiences. They may be people that would never have the opportunity to come to Canberra and see the National Portrait Gallery. There are communities in Second Life which are fascinating groups of others who are really thinking, in very interesting ways, about all the things that we’re primarily interested in — in terms of identity or digital media artworks, those kind of things.

I think roughly they may not necessarily be a different audience in terms of demographics either. There is an idea that Second Life is a younger audience, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think there’s a lot of middle-aged and older people who are engaging the digital environments now and spend quite a lot of time in there and don’t find it threatening or scary, which seems to be the message that the media tries to portray anyway.

If you curate an exhibition in Second Life on Portrait Island and you ask different artists to get involved, do you both have shared copyright use of those images for future marketing or do they own them? How does that work?
We entered into a contract with the artists. The artwork’s copyright is always retained by the artists. In this particular, we’re not talking about an acquisitional exhibition. So, we pay the artists a production fee for the artworks, and we pay them an artist’s fee for the duration of the exhibition.

So from October to March, we can display the exhibition on our island. We can use stills or machinenama or video to advertise the works and advertise the exhibition. But once we get to March next year, that relationship ends and the artworks are retained by the artists.

Email Gillian to learn more about virtual exhibitions.


Myth and reality (social media sites/networks): Ingrid Mason


The reasons for not using social media sites/networks in collecting organisations to engage visitors or new audiences range: a perception that digital technology and social media sites/networks are for young people (myth); the thought that putting time into social media sites/networks is time “wasted” when there are “real people” to engage with in “real spaces” (the time spent on these sites/networks can also pay off in dividends); social media sites/networks are perceived as “entertainment” rather than as a means of “community engagement” (which is a key goal) and internet access from work computers to these networks/sites is blocked; a level of unfamiliarity with social media sites/networks is inhibiting and doing research is in the “too hard basket” (a good reason to learn from others’ efforts); and the idea that going online is “risky” and social media sites/networks (that’s why testing it out is such a good idea).


It isn’t easy to dispel myths and change organisational policies on internet use. The only way to address myth is to provide evidence to the contrary – see Seb Chan’s blogs on Australian internet use and the generational myth. I encourage those in the sector working under conditions of internet restrictions to contest this issue with their organisational IT sections by developing and providing a business case to validate the requirement for access to specific social media sites/networks. The logic being these sites/networks are working tools and spaces and widen access to the collection, provide relevant and practical ways to communicate with current and new audiences and in short — deliver value to the organisation. The question “What is the cost/benefit of using social media sites/networks?” needs to be thought through and answered well so that the reason to change policy is clear.


Sector participants are whole-heartedly encouraged to mull the examples in this blog; to venture into these spaces and look around and find out: what the social networking/media sites are; what people “do” in these places; and why people spend time on and contribute content to social networking and media sites this. It is better to take a look at this with one’s own eyes. In the interim, the short answers are, people participate in social media sites/networks because it gives them satisfaction (otherwise they wouldn’t use these sites or resources) and a sense of community (engagement and interaction is what makes these spaces and resources social!). Doesn’t sound too radically different to why people like to visit collecting organisations and volunteer in them does it?


As a brief starting point, what people do – in a quick summary – is:

Blog — reflect, absorb, write and comment e.g. Blogspot, WordPress, LiveJournal, etc including microblogging — leave (in brief) notes, messages, comments e.g. Twitter, Posterous, etc

Network — debate, advise, share, comment and send notices e.g. Facebook, Ning, MySpace, etc

Generate content — upload content to share with others, comment or tag or reuse the content e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Slideshare

If using these sites/networks is suitable then the next step is to look at implementing these technologies/working spaces in phases, that is: do research, undertake a pilot, evaluate the pilot (lessons learned and potential value), consider implementing their use in business-as-usual, and then conduct periodic reviews.


Finally some real examples to draw from:

ArtBabble: Indianapolis Museum of Art
“ArtBabble was created so others will join in spreading the world of art through video.”

Be Heard Forever: National Library of New Zealand “By sending your music to the National Library’s Legal Deposit team, you guarantee it will be looked after, stored properly, and available to future generations of New Zealanders long after you’re gone.”

Tyrell Collection on Flickr Commons: Powerhouse Museum “The Museum is uploading photographs from its large collections of glass plate negatives. These images go up without alteration or cropping. We continue to add new images every week and, where possible, we are mapping them too! We need your help – if you know more about the locations or people in these photos, or can help tag them, it would be great!”

Library Labs: National Library of Australia “Over the next few weeks and on 27 March itself, National Library staff will be twittering, flickring, podcasting, vodcasting and blogging in an attempt to discover what significance social networking might have for us.”

Museum 3.0: Australian Museum “Museum 3.0: a network for those interested in the future of cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, science centres and other collecting bodies.”


A toolkit for supporting your own learning online: Joy Suliman

Joy Suliman facilitates workshops in multi-media production and content development at the Powerhouse Museum’s Thinkspace creative media labs. She has a special interest in adapting widely available online tools and accessible hardware for learning purposes. Previously she has worked as a regional radio producer and community development worker. But most people will know Joy as the former Collections Australia Network National Project Manager – delivering training and online support to the national collections sector.

Professional development and learning are a vital part of everyone’s working life. We are increasingly getting our information and learning resources from a variety of online sources such as websites, blogs, online journals, wikis, forums and discussion lists. And then there is also the social networking sites like Twitter, Slideshare, Facebook and YouTube. It can seem like a real nightmare trying to stay in the loop, keeping track of everything you come across, and then finding it again when you need it. Creating your own “Personal Learning Environment” or PLE is a handy way of integrating all your online learning and resources, and creating ways of managing your own learning online.

PLEs are, very broadly, the ways and structures an individual uses to find, organise, reflect and share their learning in online environments. It’s more than just elearning or doing a course online, it’s everything you do online to grow your knowledge and skills. It’s a highly contested definition, but I like what Melbourne academic Ron Lubensky has written about it here. There are some formal PLEs that are used by schools and universities, but for most of us, it will be a matter of integrating some of our already existing online practices and looking at other online tools that will help us fill in the gaps. Many web 2.0 and social media tools are great for creating your PLE. In this post, I thought I would share with you the top 5 applications in my PLE toolkit, and how I use them.

1. Delicious
Delicious is a social bookmarking site. Using delicious you can save bookmarks, tag them using your own terminology, add notes and comments, manage them from anywhere when you are online, and share them. It’s a big leap forward from the “favourites” in your browser, because using tags you can label pages in a way that makes sense to you and that will help you find them again later. I save everything I think I might like to read/hear/watch again, so when I’m having one of those “where did I read that” moments, I look in my delicious links first. I also keep a list of resources and articles for Thinkspace in Delicious.

2. Google Reader
Feed readers are great for checking all your blogs in one place. There are lots of them around, but I use Google Reader because it’s simple, and I can check it from my home, work, laptop or iphone without too much hassle. I scan through the summaries of all the posts from all the blogs that I follow. It has replaced the morning newspaper for me. If I want to read more, I can, and if I’m really interested I will click through to the post, and then bookmark it in Delicious. There are also some tools that allow you to favourite, share, email and tag with the reader itself. Essential.

3. Zotero
This is a seriously good tool for those doing research. It’s an add-on/extension for firefox, and it stores the citations and notes for websites, pdfs and basically anything you might come across online. Bibliographies can be exported into Word or Open Office. Open source and free. Wish it existed when I was writing my thesis . . .

4. Twitter
Microblogging – updates of 140 characters or less. I’m a bit surprised at how quickly I have become a fan of twitter. What can you learn in under 140 characters? Plenty it turns out. I follow people who I have met professionally, and through twitter I know what they are reading, and read it straight away if they have provided the link in their tweet. I get information about events and training. I put information about what I am working on and the workshops in the Thinkspace labs in my tweets. People who follow me comment, advise and “re-tweet” to their own networks. At conferences that I’m not attending, I appreciate that I can follow the presentations through the tweets of others who are there. I can tweet from any computer or my iphone. Want to follow me?

5. LastPass
Lots of accounts and logging in mean lots of logins and passwords. I use LastPass to manage my accounts. I have it set up on the browser on my laptop. Secure and easy to use. One password is all I need now.

I was really inspired by a presentation that Kathryn Greenhill gave at the CAN Collections and the Web event in Perth last year “”…but I don’t have time and THEY don’t get it”: Finding time and reasons for emerging technologies”. Kathryn’s presentation is on slideshare, and reminded me that everything I want to learn is out there, I just have to make it personal and take responsibility.

If you are looking for more hands on professional development and practical digital skills learning, we have a range of adult learning and professional development courses at Thinkspace, including Digital storytelling, Digital video editing, Photoshop, Web 2.0 toolkit, Online planning and research skills, and Interactive whiteboard skills. We are also putting together a professional development program for people working in museums, history, cultural heritage, collections and the arts, called Digital Culture. The first Digital Culture workshop will be Podcasting, and is scheduled for Thursday 12 November. Book here.

If you would like to know about future Digital Culture workshops in video and youtube, blogging, photography, nings and wikis, send me an email and I’ll let you know when they are coming up.


The power of linking Flickr, Media and Blogs! : Jenny Scott

State Library of South Australia archivist Jenny Scott began scanning and uploading a set of images, titled RNZAF 6 Squadron 1943-45, onto her Adelaide Archivist Flickr photostream in March 2008. She currently has 148 black and white images of New Zealand Air Force members in the S.W. Pacific, revealing moments of camaraderie from men giving each other haircuts to posing for photos on their PBY Catalina Flying Boats and swimming off the coast of Ngella Sule in the Solomon Islands.

Before the death of Jenny’s father Alastair ‘Scotty’ Scott in 1993, they shared a project writing to 6 Squadron veterans and building on a collection of photographs Scotty had rescued at wars end. With the advantage of the internet and Flickr, Jenny returned to the unfinished project with the aim of sharing the results of their research with other families of the veterans, in the hope they could gain an appreciation of their father’s and grandfather’s wartime experience. In late August 2009, Jenny emailed the Wellington Dominion Post about the photos and they ran a front page story. Jenny could not have been prepared for the overwhelming response she received from publishing this material. Some would describe it as life-changing. Jenny has given us a little insight into how she is managing the success of the project.

Greasy Pole competition at Halavo Bay, Solomon Islands, 1945. Flickr / Adelaide Archivist


Since reading Liz Holcombe’s blog post on CAN, I had considered how , a related blog would inform and provide context to the Flickr photos. The rush of emails that followed publication of the newspaper story meant that I had to find a more efficient way of sharing information with those with an interest. Hits on my Flickr site had grown in 48 hours from an average of 200 per day to 15,000+ on the 28th of August, they settled back to 11,000+ on the 29th. Liz Holcombe’s CAN post was the inspiration for one answer, a 6 Squadron blog.

Beaching crew bring a RNZAF PBY-5 ‘Cat’ onto the hard at Halavo Bay, Solomon Islands, 1944-45. Photo courtesy of N.W. ‘Norm’ Brailey. Flickr/ Adelaide Archivist

Life has not been the same since, rising each morning to new emails that require a response and each evening replying to emails, adding to the blog or adding to content and description to the Flickr site. The collection has become central to the development of 6 Squadron’s history and has been indexed by DigitalNZ, I have been invited to address the NZ Association of Women in Aviation 50th anniversary meeting in June 2010 and to the NZ Air Force Museum (Christchurch) and RNZAF Auckland (the 2009 home of 6 Squadron), wrote an article for NZ Air Force News coming out in October, managed a debate between two families claiming the same Catalina Captain as their own, corresponded daily with families in NZ and Australia with all the records management implications of having 80+ correspondence streams – second job doesn’t describe it adequately – more like second life!

If you are interested or have any information on RNZAF No.6 F/B Squadron, please email Jenny Scott – she needs the records management practice!


‘Sticking your neck out: leaders in different fields’ – Ingrid Mason

Last week Sarah Rhodes and I attended the Fourth National Public Galleries Summit Raise Your Voice organised by Museum and Gallery Services, Queensland in partnership with industry bodies from Australia and New Zealand. I understand that recordings from the sessions will become available online soon on the M&GSQ website – which is a great move. In conversation with some of the attendees and through listening to the presentations on regional projects it became clear that leadership in the galleries sector is thriving, particularly at a regional level. Leadership can be an individual, it can often take just one person to make a difference, leadership can also be a group of driven practitioners. The galleries sector in Queensland are demonstrating the power of collaboration and this cohesiveness is reflected in part in the development of a travelling exhibition – Twelve Degrees of Latitude.

Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery.

Alasdair MACINTYRE. The artist in society 1.01, 2004. Polymer clay, plastic, rubber, cardboard, wood, paper and synthetic polymer paint. 140.0 x 46.0 x 28.0 cm. Collection: Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery.


An initiative of Museum and Gallery Services Queensland, this landmark exhibition was launched at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Townsville as a part of the Summit and celebrations for Queensland’s 150th year. Curated by Bettina MacAulay and Brett Adlington it features artworks from 27 regional and university galleries across Queensland. The power of shared interest, the careful planning and problem solving is fuelled by the shared enthusiasm of the participants in making it happen; in the exhibition itself, its travelling programme and the array of artworks. The gallery visitors who take in the exhibition and attend gallery events and/or educational programmes will draw all kinds of value from this: art for art’s sake, art as a means of accessing history, art representing the diverse gallery collections, art as a stimulus for creativity, galleries as cultural spaces, etc.

Lisa Sassella, National Gallery of Victoria

Lisa Sassella, National Gallery of Victoria


A Summit workshop I attended was run by Lisa Sassella from the National Gallery of Victoria. Lisa talked about the market segmentation of visitors and participants in gallery exhibitions and events and shared her knowledge of the NGV’s audience. What was fabulous about this session was the openness and interest Lisa showed in sharing information and in talking about her understanding of the breakdown of a gallery audience (the NGV’s that is) and how that may, or may not, differ to that of a museum, or another gallery. CAN hopes to profile Lisa at some point – Lisa’s an active and interested practitioner in the galleries sector and in her own way a leader in her field. This is what I mean about leadership coming in many forms and clusters in the field; by development officers, outreach coordinators, curators and marketing managers… and that’s just those that work in or allied to public access galleries. Leadership may be professionally related, that is, exploring new concepts or theories, or phenomena in a domain… or… it may be about stimulating social change and/or breaking with convention or patterns of the past.

CAN website put through the Shredder 1.0

CAN website put through the Shredder 1.0


On the afternoon session of day two chaired by David Cranswick from d/Lux/MediaArts, four new media artists talked about their works and what challenges and issues arise from working in galleries and being new media artists. All of the artists talked about taking risks with their work and how important it was to leave themselves open to their own discovery processes and to work in collaboration with galleries when they were installing their works. These artists were frank about their concerns about relinquishing care and control of their artworks and how their artworks were experienced. Mari Velonaki talked about a work of hers that required people to eat apples in front of an art work and how much to her surprise exhibition goers didn’t eat the apples but took them away instead. I wondered why that might have been and mused that perhaps the long held traditions of “NO FOOD” in galleries might have been one reason – and – that there are good reasons not to eat apples or, in the case of Stella Brennan, take a spa, in traditional gallery spaces but that doesn’t mean you can’t break with convention and take a few risks.


Leadership is about sticking your neck(s) out, taking risks and seeing what happens. What I came away from the Summit with was a very good understanding that the gallery sector has an incredible level of talent and expertise in visual literacy and I look forward to seeing that energy and enthusiasm reflected in more gallery collections going up online.


Not So Innocent Objects: a digital story

Not So Innocent Objects is a five-minute video threading stories about seemingly ordinary objects together to reveal their dark and often emotionally-charged nature. The Collections Australia Network invited Victoria Police Museum Public Programs Curator Kate Spinks to develop a concept based on the theme of ‘crime and punishment’. She came up with the concept Not So Innocent Objects to illustrate that collections often comprise of unremarkable objects with intriguing stories.



CAN Outreach wanted to start a project that actively worked with institutions of all sizes to upload their collections to the national heritage collection database. Once Kate sent through the working concept and five objects from the Victoria Police Museum collection, CAN invited nine other institutions to submit material. This project enabled CAN to collaborate with galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The video showcases a small selection of the 50 items sourced from the ten organisations. A Google Earth tour will also be made over the next few days to explore the full collection of the not so innocent objects uploaded to CAN. It can be seen on the collectionsaustralia YouTube channel.


The participating institutions are the Justice and Police Museum (Sydney), State Records NSW (Sydney), The Rocks Discovery Museum (Sydney), Mackay Regional Library (Queensland), Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (Launceston), National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), Australian Federal Police Museum (Canberra), Museum of Old and New Art (Hobart), National Museum of Australia (Canberra) and the Victoria Police Museum (Melbourne).


CAN made this movie using the free software – iMovie and Google Earth. The Powerhouse Museum’s creative media training suite Thinkspace recorded the voiceover but this can be also done using the free software Audacity and the microphone on your computer.


CAN is now working with the National Museum of Australia senior curator Richard Reid in sourcing success stories about Irish professionals in Australia. This project will help the National Museum of Australia source material for its Irish in Australia exhibition to open on St Patrick’s Day 2010. More importantly, it will help institutions of all sizes to promote their own collections. Once the Irish professionals story has been posted on YouTube in early October, institutions participating in the project will be able to embed the video into their own websites or play it in their exhibition space alongside the items they have submitted to CAN.


For more information on how to be part of the CAN digital stories projects, email Sarah Rhodes.


Turning the Global Financial Crisis into an opportunity: National Public Galleries Summit

Raise Your Voice: National Public Galleries Summit, last week in Townsville, asked it’s delegates how the Global Financial Crisis can be turned into an opportunity to achieve sustainability, creativity and resilience.

Robyn Archer gave the keynote address titled Lightness Agility Resilience: clues for survival in the 21st century. The talk was based on an essay she wrote for Essentially Creative, issue 23 of the Griffith Review. She emphasised that this is the time for grants to be redirected from those arts agencies that have become inefficient due to long-term funding to new and dynamic projects.

The closing hypothetical discussed this concept of Resilience in terms of what ideas institutions could take home. The panel Manchester Council Director of Culture Virginia Tandy, head of the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of AucklandJonathan Mane-Wheoki and art critic John MacDonald, together with summit delegates, offered ideas on that could be taken back on a positive step forward.

The suggestions were:
* During a time when there are a multitude of niche interest groups rather than a general public, putting collections online allows specialised interest communities to form.
* Local councils should stop the restriction of social networking sites like Flickr and YouTube that are valuable tools for reaching new audiences.
* Institutions should look at what is in their collections rather than sourcing material from other organisations.
* Transfer part of a collection to another institution if they have better resources and staff to care for it.
* Promote stories about collections in how they have impacted on people’s lives. For example, Sir Norman Foster decided on his architecture career after finding a book on Frank Lloyd Wright in the library.
* Larger galleries and museums should help regional galleries attract corporate sponsorship so they can offer free admission to traveling exhibitions.
* Recognise that people give money to people not institutions.
* Use a collection creatively to attract donors.
* Network to compensate for a lack of resources.
* Engage with the local community by establishing what they are already interested in.
* Employ people from the local community for front of house roles so they will promote the area.
* Ensure there is career progression for staff.
* Administer ideas quickly and simply. Minimise reports, documentation and committees.
* Be positive.

The summit was a great success, particularly in terms of regional galleries and service providers, artists and curators sharing ideas and forging valuable relationships. Summits like these help build a supportive community of practice. Congratulations Museums and Galleries Services Queensland on putting on a well-run conference with such a warm and friendly atmosphere and thank you Frances Thomson, director of Perc Tucker Gallery, for being a wonderful host. Recordings of the talks will be available on the MGSQ website over the next few weeks. They also have social networking running on their Facebook page.


Copyright series 1/3: What are the copyright issues surrounding galleries putting collections online?

Viscopy, the Australian Copyright Council and the Creative Commons Clinic share their different views on how artists and galleries should negotiate copyright. This three-part series is being published in support of the National Public Galleries Summit in Townsville this week, of which CAN is an official sponsor.

Whilst galleries and museums may own or have on loan works of art, it does not follow that they will also own the copyright in those works which are protected by copyright law. Determining whether or not a work is protected by copyright is quite simple: the work is protected if its creator is still alive, or if the creator died after 1 January 1955, or in the case of photographs, if the photograph was taken after 1 January 1955. Once copyright is established, and assuming no exceptions to the law apply, the first issue galleries must consider when putting collections online is obtaining permission from the creator or copyright owner to reproduce and communicate the work.

Michael Riley, Untitled, from the series cloud (feather), 2000, © The Estate of Michael Riley. Licensed by Viscopy, 2009.

If a licence is granted, galleries and museums will usually need to ensure that:

Reproductions of the work are as faithful as possible to the original.
The work is correctly attributed to its creator.
Works are protected from third party infringements (for example, by including a copyright disclaimer on the website and limiting file size).
They have allowed sufficient provision in their budget to pay for a copyright licence.

Viscopy represents a huge number of Australian and international artists many of whose works form part of Australia’s public collections. We work closely with a number of small and large museums which want to make their collections available online.
We aim to make the copyright licensing process efficient, simple and affordable for customers, whilst still protecting and valuing our members’ work.


Is unique in Australia in providing customers with a one stop shop for some of the world’s most iconic artists
Clear rights instantly in most cases
Offers annual licenses which are very cost effective and allow the museum to upload works at their own pace

Viscopy is committed to working with museums to continually improve our licensing services.

Joanna Cave, Chief Executive Officer, Viscopy
Email Viscopy for advice.

Creative Commons
As those on the ground know, the single biggest cost in trying to put collections online is usually copyright clearance. The vast majority of material held within most Australian institutions will not be cleared for online access, and there will often be large amounts of material for which the copyright status cannot be identified and copyright owners cannot be contacted (ie orphaned works). In this environment, the legal barriers to putting your collection online often seem insurmountable for individual institutions.

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Clinic

One of the best things the government could do to assist collecting institutions moving into the digital age is to provide increased exceptions or legislative permissions schemes for minimum online access initiatives (eg provision of thumbnails or low resolution catalogues) and orphaned works.

However, this doesn’t mean that individual institutions have to wait for legislative change before they can do anything. There’s lots of interesting work being done with ‘low-hanging fruit’ in collections – such as material that is in the public domain, that has a single copyright owner who can be partnered with, that is created by the museum, or that is new to the collection (so appropriate clearances can be obtained). Successful projects such as the Flickr Commons and the increased viewership, user engagement and even improved sales that these initiatives have afforded for institutions provide good examples for those looking for ways in which they can make better use of their collections.

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Clinic
Email Jessica Coates at the Creative Commons Clinic for advice.

Australian Copyright Council
A gallery will usually only be free to put up images of artworks where copyright in the artwork itself has expired and where it owns copyright in the image of that artwork (for example, because one of its employees has taken the photo). In other cases, it will usually need a clearance from the relevant copyright owner or collecting society (such as from Viscopy or the Aboriginal Artists Agency).

Where it¹s free to put an image online, a gallery should think strategically about what it will make available; where it will make it available; at what resolution; and on what terms.

A gallery will need to take extra care where an image contains Indigenous intellectual property or anything that may be sensitive to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, but a gallery should act sensitively no matter what is in an image. By considering making images available only on its own website or on websites within the museum and gallery sector, a gallery has a greater chance of ensuring that the integrity of works in its collection is maintained and that online access to images is properly curated. This may not be possible where images are made available on websites outside the museum or gallery sector.

In deciding whether to make images available at a low or a high resolution, a gallery will need to take into account the extent to which it would like to exercise a degree of control over the downstream use of the images, particularly in light of the revenue stream such licensing represents for many galleries.

Last, galleries should clearly distinguish between making images in their collection available to be viewed online from licensing the subsequent reuse of those images. Where a gallery allows people to reuse online images, it should take care that the terms of the licence protect both its own reputation and the interests of its stake-holders ­ including the community on whose behalf the gallery has custody of the material.

Ian McDonald, Senior Legal Officer, Australian Copyright Council
Email the Australian Copyright Council for advice.


Copyright series 2/3: Should artists be concerned about Creative Commons licences?

Viscopy, the Australian Copyright Council and the Creative Commons Clinic share their different views on how artists and galleries should negotiate copyright. This three-part series is being published in support of the National Public Galleries Summit in Townsville this week, of which CAN is an official sponsor.

Yes. Viscopy accepts that Creative Commons offer a legitimate alternative to more traditional forms of copyright licensing. Creators of some forms of copyright material such as academic research can find that open source licensing serves their needs very well. However, Viscopy does not believe that Creative Commons provides the right solution for artists when a museum or gallery is seeking permission to communicate copies of their works online.

Rick Amor, Roman Life, 2001, © Rick Amor. Licensed by Viscopy, 2009.

The simple if inconvenient truth is that artists need the royalties – however modest – which flow from copyright licences such as those made available by Viscopy. Creative Commons licences do not enable artists to earn anything from exploitations of their work. Artists also desire – quite reasonably – a degree of choice about how their work is exploited; something which is denied to them by most forms of Creative Commons licences.

Joanna Cave, Chief Executive Officer, Viscopy
Email Viscopy for advice.

Creative Commons
A lot of misinformation gets spread about Creative Commons licences – that they are anti-copyright, or anti-commercial. But when it comes down to it, they aren’t really very different from other copyright licences. Having a Creative Commons licence on your material doesn’t affect your ability to enforce your copyright against pirates or people who are using your materials in ways you have not approved – it simply provides an easy way for you to provide certain permissions in advance. In fact, there is anecdotal evidence that users are more likely to follow the terms of use for material under an simple and friendly licence than ‘all rights reserved’, if only because they find it easier to understand what’s expected of them. The licences are legally sound, have been examined by literally hundreds of lawyers internationally, and have been upheld in several court cases. And most importantly – they’re entirely voluntary.

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Clinic

Creative Commons licensing can be a valuable tool for artists looking to take advantage of the new online business models that are having success in the music and film industries, or even just engage with their audiences on a different level. This is particularly the case for emerging and early career artists, for whom obscurity presents a bigger problem than piracy. But they are just a tool, and need to be used thoughtfully. Creative Commons licensing can be used for different materials in different ways. For example, non-commercial licensing of low resolution images can be a good way of increasing an artist’s profile without impacting on revenue streams from sales of original works, high quality prints or commercial reproductions. Or putting out a single artwork, a draft, or a sample for remixing can be a great way of engaging with audiences without reducing the value of the larger collection. The point is, Creative Commons aims to hand these decisions back to artists.

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Clinic
Email Jessica Coates at the Creative Commons Clinic for advice.

Australian Copyright Council
As with any licence, an artist thinking about licensing their work under a CC licence has to read and fully understand both all the terms of the relevant licence and all the implications. They also need to think about what they want to achieve by licensing their work, and the extent to which the licence will help them get there.

An artist interested in using a CC licence needs in particular to consider that these licences are for the entire period of copyright (their lifetime plus 70 years). Things are moving very fast in the online world, and what might seem OK today, might not seem such a good idea even a couple of years down the track. Under a CC licence, however, you can¹t change your mind.

An artist would also need to look at how the CC licences allow their work to be used. Generally, the licences are very broad and in some cases unclear.
(It’s not particularly clear, for example, what types of uses might be prohibited by the “non-commercial” licences, and other people may well be able to make money using an artist’s work even if the CC licence is labelled “non-commercial”).

Artists should also assess what they might miss out on under a CC licence.
One thing would be any potential payment under the Copyright Act for use of their artworks by governments and educational institutions: governments, schools and similar organisations pay for electricity and for pens and pencils ­ why not also for images of art they are using? Another thing artists lose under a CC licence is a great deal of control over their work ­ the ability to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a particular use of their work is OK or not, based on who wants to use their work and what they want to do with it. Artists also potentially lose the ability to get feedback, as the CC licences don¹t impose any obligation to let an artist know their work is being used.

In particular, an artist should consider whether they should hold off licensing their work until someone asks them for a permission. An artist can put his or her own artwork onto their own website so people can see it without having to give other people any upfront licence to reuse their works, and if an artist is putting images onto a social media site (such as Flickr or MySpace), then just using a copyright notice and reserving rights will generally work just fine. (Generally, also give contact details, such as an email address, for people to use if they want permission). Artists should also take into account the fact that there are lots of provisions in the Copyright Act that allow other people to use their material without permission – including for reporting news, for criticism or review and for educational purposes – so they don’t really need to license these uses themselves.

Last, if an artist wants to license their work, they should consider becoming a member of Viscopy ­ a non-profit organisation that has lots of experience in licensing artworks on behalf of its members.

Ian McDonald, Senior Legal Officer, Australian Copyright Council
Email the Australian Copyright Council for advice.


Copyright series 3/3: What do artists need to be aware of when licensing artworks to galleries?

Viscopy, the Australian Copyright Council and the Creative Commons Clinic share their views on how artists and galleries should negotiate copyright. This three-part series is being published in support of the National Public Galleries Summit in Townsville this week, of which CAN is an official sponsor.

The law is clear that the copyright belongs to the creator in the first instance. It is time-limited in order to realise benefits to the creator during his or her lifetime and for a limited period following death. Once copyright expires in a creative work, it enters the public domain and may be exploited freely by any individual or organisation. Public domain works exist in most public collections; in some cases, museums own very few or no works at all which are protected by copyright. In such cases, they are free to do as please.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Untitled (Awelye), 1994 (c) The Estate of Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Licensed by Viscopy, 2009

With respect to works which are currently protected by copyright, the law allows for copyright to be bought, sold or licensed for use. The right to receive remuneration arising from any of these transactions can be waived altogether. Unfortunately, some museums are taking advantage of their superior bargaining power by demanding that artists whose works they collect freely assign their rights or forgo their entitlement to a copyright royalty for any uses of their works the museum wishes to make. The justification for this is almost always financial. Of course we understand that museums often operate with limited funds. But then so do artists.

If museums are insistent on finding ways to avoid paying artists for the right to use their work, either through rights waivers or the imposition of Creative Commons licences, our question is this: how will creativity be funded?

In a changing information and knowledge environment museums need to be leaders in their field. Museums are important standard bearers, which would not exist but for the creative impulse in human beings. If guardians of our national culture and public heritage cannot be relied upon to support those artists who – often with significant personal sacrifice – enrich our lives so much, then who can?

Joanna Cave, Chief Executive Officer, Viscopy
Email Viscopy for advice.

Creative Commons
On the other hand, where material is in the public domain or has been created by or in collaboration with the institution, there are good arguments that institutions shouldn’t be too risk averse in their licensing. Although it is tempting to feel that as the ‘owner’ of a public domain work you need to protect it from ‘undesirable’ uses, this can lead to policies that undermine the value of our collective culture. After all, the whole point of copyright is that it eventually ends – creators have a monopoly for a certain period of time to allow them to earn a living, but after that time the work should go back to the commons so it can be used for the benefit of the whole community. If kids can play with Shakespeare, they should be able to play with material from their own national collections.

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Clinic

Australia’s collecting institutions can be a valuable tool to reduce piracy by providing a source of safe material that can be legally reused by innovators, creators and educators, to name just a few. By taking advantage of new business models and audience engagement tactics, galleries should also be able to implement access policies for materials that they ‘own’ in ways that benefit the community and their institution.

Jessica Coates, Project Manager, Creative Commons Clinic
Email Jessica Coates at the Creative Commons Clinic for advice.

Australian Copyright Council
When a gallery acquires an artwork (whether from an artist or from a donor or auction house), it is usually only acquiring a physical item, and not any of the copyright in the work. In other words, just owning an artwork does not make a gallery a copyright owner.

There are, however, cases where a gallery will own copyright in works in its collection. One example is where an artist specifically bequeaths either copyright to a gallery or a hitherto ³unpublished² artwork. Another case is where the artist has assigned his or her copyright to a gallery or licensed the gallery to use images of the artwork in particular ways.

In my view, when it comes to copyright, artists and galleries should follow the ³best practice² guidelines and protocols published by the National Association for the Visual Arts (available at Under these guidelines, a gallery should respect the copyright of the artist and ensure that these rights are respected by all parties and the general public. In particular, outside the exemptions under the Copyright Act, galleries should not expect artists to allow image reproduction without the payment of a reproduction fee ­ particularly where an exhibition catalogue is a commercial venture or where an image database is to be made available to the public. Under those guidelines, artists and galleries might nonetheless take into account the suggestions from the 2007 Museums & Galleries NSW NETS Touring contract that attempt to balance the interests of the artist and the interests of the gallery in relation to when an artist might allow images to be reproduced without a fee (see the guidelines for more information).

Note also that, although the point is not clear under Australian law for photos of two-dimensional artworks such as paintings and drawings, there may be a separate copyright in a photo of an artwork. This copyright will usually be owned either by the gallery or the photographer, depending on the circumstances and any relevant agreement, but will usually be subject to any underlying rights in the artwork depicted in the photo.

Ian McDonald, Senior Legal Officer, Australian Copyright Council
Email the Australian Copyright Council for advice.


Digital experiences in the landscape

Digital media arts organisations and advertising agencies are developing digitally driven experiences to take art and cultural heritage to the streets. Garrick Schmitt wrote in the Advertising Age this week that a ‘host of artists, programmers and marketers have melded art and science to create new, digitally driven experiences that are redefining the way we think about our urban and personal landscapes’.

Digital art is not limited to large-scale projections on buildings. The Historic Houses Trust and media arts organisation d/lux/MediaArts recently experimented with the Justice and Police Museum’s digitised photographic collection to create Razorhurst – a mobile GPS game set in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The HHT will host a forum next Friday (September 11) to discuss future creative applications for mobile devices with guest speakers from d/lux.

Take time to explore Garrick’s blog post. He offers a comprehensive look at different projects around the world from Project Blinkenlights which transforms office buildings in Canada into digital interactive installations to the Livestrong Chalkbot – Lance Armstrong’s robot that chalks messages of cancer survival on the road. The 555 Kubik project is similar to Project Blinkenlights in that uses 3D projections to transform a building’s surface into an artwork.

555 KUBIK_ extended version from urbanscreen on Vimeo.


Building a virtual exhibition: Nyree Morrison

Archivist Nyree Morrison takes us through the process of designing a website to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the University of Sydney’s Great Hall. Using hindsight, she is able to offer advice on how to plan for building a virtual exhibition.

Reference archivist Nyree Morrison

The University of Sydney’s Great Hall celebrated its 150th anniversary on 18 July 2009. To showcase the variety of historical images, plans and ephemera the University Archives has on the hall, it was decided that a website would be the best way to do this. A website was appealing as it would remain a permanent exhibition, it could be dynamic as we could add additional images and information, and it would be less expensive and time consuming as staging a real exhibition, which we have done in the past. Plus we could exhibit items indefinitely that we otherwise could not.

A rough plan was drawn up with what we wanted the website to look like, and what we wanted to have on it. There are many written sources on the Great Hall and its architecture and features, therefore we did not want to repeat what was already done. We also wanted to highlight the variety of archives that we hold and show how the Great Hall was used by students and staff over the past 150 years. However, we had to write some basic information on the hall’s construction and certain attributes as we do receive enquiries about the hall.

Edward Blore (born 1787, died 1879), Interior of the Great Hall, University of Sydney, circa 1865, watercolour on paper, Gift of Sir John Nicholson Bart, 1961, ©Art Collection, University of Sydney.

We wanted to show some of the plans and drawings that the Archives has of the Great Hall. But, the Archives or the University do not have the facilities to scan large plans. Therefore we had to send the plans to be professionally scanned. This had to be factored into the time frame of going live. This was the only area where there was financial outlay. Not everything we wanted to use was already scanned, so time had to be set aside to do this too. Many items were found by chance while looking for something else. Secondary sources were used as links on the website to provide more contextual information.

Carving above the fireplace in the Great Hall

Because we wanted a suite of web pages we had to request these be made by another University department – Digital Print and Media (DPM). DPM decided that the website would gain more exposure if it was hosted through the University’s corporate site than as a stand alone site with a link to it from the Archive website. This was a great idea as the website and the Archives would receive more exposure. However, there were issues with certain areas of the website that had to be changed such as the number of menu headings we had which meant amalgamating pages.

This has been a great learning experience and I have to admit, as time consuming as staging a real exhibition. But lessons have been learned.

Advice on hosting a virtual exhibition
- Despite setting aside plenty of time to have the website designed, we did have to postpone our original deadline a few times. This is something you cannot do when you are staging a real exhibition as the space will only be booked for a certain length of time.
- If working with other departments, ensure that you all agree that you can meet the deadline and it is clear who is working on what aspects of the exhibition.
- Although you may have many images and lots of information to display, you have to resize the images for the web and think about the size of downloads.
- You do not want to overwhelm the audience with information which is why it is a good idea to give them information on extra reading and make available documents to download rather than have the information on one long screen.
- Look at the resources you have – can you afford to have certain items professionally scanned as they will look better on the web? If not can you rescan them at a higher quality?
- Have fun putting the exhibition together!

Email Nyree if you would like to know more about designing a virtual exhibition.