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Auckland Museum's data puts NZ on the map among global leaders

09 Feb 17

The Auckland War Memorial Museum has been named as an example of best practice in the World Wide Web Consortium’s most recent “Data on the web”.

Named alongside the BBC, the World Bank, the Wellcome Trust, The European Union data portal, and both the US & UK government-data portals, the museum is among the best of the best.

David Reeves, Director of Collections & Research at Auckland War Memorial Museum, says the ever-growing collections are at the heart of Auckland Museum’s guiding principle of kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

"The Museum has a responsibility to make our collections globally accessible. Museum culture is ever changing and we are embracing a different kind of access to the museum collection, one that allows people to self-navigate, engage with and discover the wondrous landscape of our natural, social and cultural collections on their own terms,” he says.

"It is a real privilege to be acknowledged by such an important organisation and we will to continue to strive for excellence. As Tim Berners-Lee so aptly put it “this is for everyone”, a principle we truly believe in making our collections available online.”

Nearly one million objects from the Museum’s collections are available to view online, with 2000 new objects being added every month. The metadata from these pages is also available freely to the public.

Adam Moriarty is the Digital Collections Information Manager, he spearheaded Auckland Museum’s Collections Online project,

“Our open data is available in a standardised format via our API (api.aucklandmuseum.com). You can grab it, transform it, learn from it and share it,” he explains.

“We have some amazing objects that we can show you onsite, and now anyone can explore these and learn more online.”

The museum also worked with software company Propellerhead to develop their technology using a Linked Open Data framework, which allows connections and links to be made between Museum objects which previously hadn’t been possible.

According to Moriarty, at the time, only a couple of larger memory organisations worldwide were experimenting with the use of Linked Open Data to make their collections more widely accessible and connectable online.

“Collections Online allows people to download the data and use it, thus creating an open space for people to engage with and expand the understanding of the collection,” he says.

“We see creative minds in the community using ways to further unlock our content - to imagine and develop new applications for the collection data that will, in turn, reach and inspire new audiences.”

The Museum’s information is also being pulled into both Google Arts and Culture, an online platform created by Google Cultural Institute which showcases artworks, historical sites and stories from around the world, and DigitalNZ - a New Zealand-specific aggregator.

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