Image Delivery and Intellectual Property
Strong, dynamic images are essential for the Museum to use in its exhibitions, publications, website, marketing and public affairs material. Throughout the year the Museum's Image Delivery and Intellectual Property section processed more than 2500 requests for images, and copyright clearances for the Museum's use, along with an increasing number of external requests for the use of images owned by the Museum.
Another major achievement over the past year was the launch of the Museum Law web page which contains general information on a range of intellectual property issues.
The Museum also continued to coordinate an intellectual property, education and networking group, Copyright in Cultural Institutions, across national cultural institutions in the Australian Capital Territory. A major focus this year was the Museum's coordination of the group's submission to the Digital Agenda Review.
The Museum's Photography section produces images to support the Museum's communications activities and corporate and public events. This year more than 540 photographic assignments were completed, producing more than 8000 images. The high quality of photographic work contributed significantly to four publishing industry awards won by the Museum.
Three feature photographic projects this year were:
- photography in Central Australia which provided a wide selection of images for use in the Extremes exhibition
- a collaboration between the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the Museum enabled the photography of the opening of the Gab Titui cultural centre on Thursday Island, and documentation of performances, artists, people and landscapes
- textiles from the Winifred Hilliard, Dawn Laing, Beth Dean and Petronella Wensing collections were photographed for forthcoming publications.
Information and Communications Technology
The Museum continues to play a leading role in using new technologies in its business activities and its communication of Australian history. Several major information technology infrastructure and development projects reached final stages during 2003-2004. These include the collections and exhibitions information management system (Opal) and the web architecture project which together form the foundation for an integrated information management and web-publishing environment for the Museum. The Information and Communications Technology section also produced a range of multimedia for exhibitions, events, promotions and the website.
In 2003 the Museum was contracted by the Swedish Government to provide advice on the development of information and communications technology strategies for the new Museum of World Cultures which opens in Gothenburg, Sweden in December 2004.
Development and testing of a new collections information management system was completed in June, for implementation early in 2004-2005. This system brings information about Museum collections together in a single repository, including object records, images, multimedia and associated contextual material. It enables staff to electronically manage key collection and exhibition management processes including documentation of the collection, the movement of objects, conservation treatments and the creation and changeover of exhibitions. In 2003-2004 the Project Opal team completed the specification, development and testing of the new system and the migration of data from key legacy systems. Training for approximately 100 core system users commenced in May.
With the establishment of the new system, the task of enhancing the Museum's collection records will be pursued in 2004-2005. The integration of this information with the web architecture project will ensure that the public also has access to this information in a range of search-based and interactive presentations.
Web architecture project
In November 2003 the Museum launched a major revision of its website. For visitors a fresh design was the most striking change. The update to the site also contained revisions to all existing content along with a large volume of new content. The release of the new website coincided with the launch of the Outlawed! exhibition. To support the exhibition, interactive content was re-versioned and made available online. This included an interactive version of the John Hanlon transcription of the 'Jerilderie Letter', a 'Make your verdict' interactive and an 'Outlawed! Quiz'.
Behind the scenes, the deployment of a new content management system has streamlined the Museum's web-publishing process.
The Museum continued to develop its online content and services, including exhibition and collections material, schools resources, visitor and corporate information. As well as relaunching its main website www.nma.gov.au the Museum's first targeted entry portal schools.nma.gov.au was also launched.
The Museum partnered with Net Ventures Pty Ltd to webcast six live events from the Studio. These included a Talkback Classroom event in Mildura featuring the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Anderson, a defence conference and several public lectures.
The webcasts were used to expand the offsite reach of the Studio and to explore the development of broadband web content.
The first Basin Bytes project, undertaken as part of the Murray-Darling Basin outreach project, saw students from the Echuca region creating their own interpretations of environmental history for the Museum website at <basinbytes.nma.gov.au>. A similar project in Wentworth is also underway, with two further projects scheduled for 2004-2005.
Overall visitation to the website continued to grow, with 480,000 visits in 2003-2004. In July, the Museum received the Institute of Public Administration (Australia) award for the best online annual report of any Commonwealth Authorities and Companies agency in 2002-2003.
The Museum commissioned a range of video, interactive and web-based multimedia projects for exhibitions, events and the website. The major project was the creation of a range of material for the Outlawed! exhibition.
These proved highly popular with visitors of all ages to the exhibition according to exit surveys. More than 20,000 visitors to Outlawed! took the time to register their own verdict on the famous characters presented in the exhibition. Using a touchscreen interface, visitors were asked to decide whether, after viewing the evidence, they considered 12 featured outlaws heroes or villains. Australia's own Ned Kelly was clearly the people's choice for hero - almost 60 per cent of respondents decided in his favour.
Collaborative online learning project
Work continued on the development of 'learning objects' commissioned by the Learning Federation. These are web-based interactive resources that explore various themes in Australian history. The Museum is the first cultural institution contracted to produce material under this project, an initiative of Federal and State governments of Australia and New Zealand. It is anticipated that by the end of 2004, 20 of these resources based on Museum collections and themes will be available for students throughout Australia through the Learning Federation's online repository and the Museum's website.
Information technology systems and infrastructure
The Museum continued to consolidate and enhance its IT business systems and infrastructure. A number of key business systems were upgraded, a new standard operating environment was rolled out to staff desktops and new systems were implemented to manage the Friends membership database, marketing contacts and digital image and video assets.
In November, following a tender process, the Museum contracted a new service provider for IT infrastructure support services. The Museum's fleet of printers was replaced and more than 60 staff and associated infrastructure were relocated to the Acton Annexe. In April a fibre optic data link was established between the Museum's Acton and Mitchell sites through the ICON network, increasing the speed of data access and transfer between sites by a factor of 100.
Records Management commenced the first stage of the Designing and Impementing Recordkeeping Systems program run by the National Archives of Australia to improve the management of paper-based records and files. The management of electronic information was enhanced through the implementation of new policies and procedures and an upgrade of the Museum intranet.