Collecting Tasmania – an introduction

Gaia Resources was recently successful in a tender to work with the state of Tasmania in producing a web pilot to combine the worlds of cultural collections and tourism.

As we are in the early stages and the project is still being scoped, there’s not a lot that I can say (yet), but I wanted to share this blog to talk about my initial reflections of working with Tasmanian collecting institutes.

First things first, it’s really pretty down here in Hobart…

View of Mt Wellington from Hobart

View of Mt Wellington from Battery Point – it’s actually snowing up there

But secondly, the collecting institutes have a real sense of community and cooperation. In advance of my trip, I had worked to organise meetings with 10 museums across the state. In every case there was immense positivity and a spirit of cooperation to develop something on behalf of the state. After all, collections exist to serve the community, and this attitude was palpable by those I met through my engagement.

TMAG exterior

Entry to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, a major sponsor of the project

Resources are limited, but the attitudes are positive, and the institutions are making things work with what they have available. For example, I recently met the University of Tasmania Special and Rare Collection librarians. We spent a bit over an hour discussing the project, discussing digitisation, exhibition, public display, collection highlights, web publishing, and collections management. At the end of the meeting, the final question was “how can we help?”

Also, when setting up meetings with museums in Hobart, Margate, Devonport, Burnie and Launceston, there was only interest in the project – and the interest was in the benefit to the state, and in getting the collections publically discoverable. Notably absent was an attitude of “what’s in it for our museum”, or “we’re too busy”, or even “we don’t have resources to join” (even though most only have limited resourcing).

Channel Heritage Museum - camera collection

The Channel Heritage Museum’s camera collection. The Channel Heritage Museum in Margate is one of the ten collecting institutions involved in the project consultation

So, I’m currently in the midst of the engagement period, and I look forward to sharing my experiences throughout this project and revealing the project and the outcomes in the new year. And I really look forward to continue working with the state and harnessing on the positive spirit on the island.

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