The WA Collections Sector Working Group - December 2017

Article | Updated 2 months ago

The Collections Sector Working Group (CSWG) held its first meeting on 19 July 2016.  The purpose of the Working Group is to respond to a series of structural and funding changes in the collections sector and consider how to meet the highest strategic priorities of the sector. 

The CSWG comprises membership from the WA Museum, State Library of WA, Art Gallery of WA, State Records Office, National Trust WA, Australian Society of Archivists, Museums and Galleries Australia WA, Art on the Move, Australian Library and Information Association, WA Local Government Association and Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC).  It represents all four collecting domains. 

The CSWG is chaired by Alec Coles, CEO of the WA Museum at the request of the Director General of the DLGSC, with management support provided by Roz Lipscombe of DLGSC.

What is the CSWG doing?

As a result of extensive consultation across all four collecting domains, the CSWG identified strategic priorities for development.  The following is an update on the status of two strategic projects:

CSWG Strategic Projects

A Digital Platform for the Collections Sector

The need for a searchable digital platform for all WA collections is widely recognised and acknowledged: making collections discoverable, integrating information about our wider collections sector and its resources and making it more possible to share stories of local, state and national significance.  However, very few Western Australian collections are discoverable online and few community based collecting organisations have the means to run their own online database.

The CSWG has considered a range of digital platform options and made a unanimous decision in April to seek resources to adopt and roll out the Victorian developed Victorian Collections platform.  This will be re-purposed and re-branded as Australian Collections in Western Australia.  Since that time:

  • A sub-group representing the four collecting domains has prepared a list of requirements necessary to adapt Victorian Collections to the Western Australian context. 
  • The Victorian Collections team have confirmed they can accommodate these requirements. 
  • A Memorandum of Understanding, for adoption between key Victorian and Western Australian service providers has been drafted.
  • The CSWG is considering a range of funding models to support the components of the platform, including construction and training.

Skills Development

The collections sector requires skills development for existing and new practitioners in metropolitan and regional Western Australia.  Art On The Move (AOTM) and Museums Galleries WA (MGAWA) have partnered to deliver a two-day pilot training program in interpretation and exhibition development.  Telling our Stories is aimed at being relevant to all four collecting domains and was delivered in Roebourne (28-29 Sept) and Fremantle (2-3 Nov).  Elements of the training program will soon be made available online for everyone.

Both Roebourne and Fremantle programs were well attended or over-subscribed and participants included educators, curators, archivists, historians, conservators, researchers, visual artists, gallery operators, lifelong learners and gallery staff.  Subsequently the City of Albany have contracted the team to conduct the training for a range of organisations in Albany.

The training program has proven to be a model which can be adapted to the needs of any organisation or group of people requiring the training.  AOTM and Museums Galleries Australia WA are considering other training programs that would benefit from being delivered in partnership as a means of creating efficiencies and sharing good practice across the sector.

The project received funding from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

Another Strategic Project Underway in the Sector…

2020 Vision: AOTM and Art Gallery of Western Australia

Connect, Listen and Learn Tour

Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) and AOTM, recently completed the first part of a multi-regional tour.  This is an action-research project entitled ‘2020 Vision’ Connect, Listen and Learn tour  to strengthen relationships with regional gallery venues in WA, build audiences and foster networks for art exhibitions. 

This coincides with the emergence of a consortium of visual arts venues, GalleriesWest; the exciting prospect of AGWA’s 125th anniversary in 2020; AGWA’s launch of a new strand ‘WA Unlimited’ which showcases WA artists in the State Art Collection and informs AOTM’s strategic review.

The tour team comprises Kim Jameson,  Executive Director AOTM and James Davies, Acting Director Exhibitions and Collections AGWA.  Venue Locations for the first phase took place in October 2017 to Mandurah, Bunbury, Collie, Katanning, Albany, Esperance & Kalgoorlie.

More than 70 people engaged with the sessions and it is evident there is a need for a stronger relationship with the regions. Further detail about the research and next tours will be outlined in a brief report available soon.

The project is funded by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

Resources Contributed by CSWG Members


Museums and Galleries Australia  

WA Museum

The Museum has developed a series of instructional videos, which provide simple and practical information on a variety of collection care and conservation topics.

The collection conservation ‘bible’ Conservation and Care of Collections edited by David Gilroy and Ian Godfrey has been updated, expanded, and is also available online.


Kids in Museums Manifesto – relevant to all GLAM organisations

University of Leicester - 21st Century Museum, also relevant to the GLAM sector.

What Happens Next?

CSWG members and consultees clearly articulated the need for greater communication across collecting domains to share information and opportunities more widely. 

All members have committed to circulating their publications across the group and to be conscious of the broader collections sector in developing new initiatives.

As progress on the strategies is made, the CSWG members will circulate updates to their respective networks.

Please direct all inquiries about the CSWG to:

Alec Coles, CEO, WA Museum, c/o Amy Miller
T: 08 6552 7984

Roz Lipscombe, Senior Policy Officer Cultural Programs, DCA
T: 08 6552 7398

Happy Christmas wishes to everyone working with collections!

Feature Image

Caption: Jewel Beetles from the WA Museum's Entomology Collection.
Image copyright WA Museum.
View more images like this in our insect photo gallery.