GLAMi nomination: The Sarjeant Gallery online collection website

nominated by: Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems, New Zealand
institution: The Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension

The Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui is a regional art gallery in New Zealand. The Sarjeant Gallery has a compact team comprising of 11 full time equivalent staff with no web developer. Until now only a small portion of the collection has been available online. The Gallery’s main building has been closed for redevelopment, so there was an urgent need for full online access to the collection.

The project was completed within a small budget, with seven days of development time spent customising an off-the-shelf product with minimal branding from the Sarjeant Gallery. The Gallery did not have the resources available to spend hours retrospectively inputting relevant data and keywords into the collection records. The Gallery were open to prototyping and experimentation, and worked closely with Vernon Systems to see what might be possible with the collection data. Automated analysis of the collection images provided us with a range of options.

Key features:

  • Automated colour analysis, with navigation via colour swatches and searching by colour names
  • Automated subject keywords using the Google Cloud Vision API
  • Generated natural language text on the artwork detail page based on the raw collection record data
  • Live counts of numbers of related records on the home page, search page and artwork detail page to give users a sense of the scale of the collection
  • Links to external Wikipedia and Te Ara (Encyclopedia of New Zealand) pages for prominent artists in the collection
  • Filtering by image orientation
  • Embedded metadata to help users share pages on social media
  • Clear rights statements, with open access to images that are out of copyright
  • Advanced search page for researchers
  • Compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility standards
  • API access to allow Digital NZ (New Zealand’s national cultural content website) to aggregate the content

By publishing the entire collection and embracing the concept of Create Once, Publish Everywhere, this new site allows the Gallery to highlight collection items or sets that tie with current events and internal exhibitions. Full online access to the collection is generating increased positive exposure for the Gallery, providing new statistics on where visitor interest has been drawn, and providing the public with digital access to artworks which they do not have physical access to. At the National Digital Forum conference (New Zealand’s digital conference for the gallery, library, archive and museum sector) in November 2017, the website won the award for Digital Exhibition or Collection.