Richard Bourne, Wanganui Collegiate School Museum with Mark Holland

Getting online in a win-win way 

Mark Holland, one of the NZMuseums website volunteers, did a placement assisting the Wanganui Collegiate School Museum to start getting their collection on NZMuseums.

Wanganui Collegiate School was founded in 1854 and the Museum has a very impressive collection of photographs – over 50,000 – as well as archive material. There are also many objects such as school crockery, uniforms, old desks, and even a couple of now-unused bamboo canes. The collections are housed in a magnificent old building which used to be the old music building.

The Museum is run by a number of Old Boys volunteers, Richard Bourne, the chair being one of them. Richard attended the ‘Promote your museum using online tools’ workshop run we held at the Whanganui Regional Museum last year. At the workshop he was introduced to a variety of social media that can be used to reach current and new audiences. This is where he learned more about the NZMuseums website and the way it gives the public access to a museum's collections, as well as being an online collection management system.

Richard Bourne explains, 'as a result of the workshop I established personal contact with Lucie Paterson at National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) and, following further communication Lucie, suggested she could arrange for one of their NZMuseums project volunteers to visit our Museum to help get us up to speed with the NZMuseums website. We could provide accommodation so the only cost to us would be the volunteer's travelling expenses. We jumped at the opportunity.’

The volunteer was Mark Holland, who last year completed a diploma in Museum Studies at Massey University.

’Mark arrived on a Wednesday morning and after a quick tour of the Museum it was down to business. We had already put our Museum on NZMuseums but were keen to put collection items on to make them available to a worldwide audience. One of our local volunteers, Frances Gibbons, also joined us – the old two-heads-are-better-than-one theory.

’Initially, I had found the number of fields to be completed off-putting, and thought it would take an age to list an individual item, but Mark soon showed us it is just a matter of only using the fields that are applicable to us. Together we discovered just how easy it is to photograph items and put them online. 

‘We found it best to write up our own simple step-by-step procedure, skipping the fields we will not be using. We now have a few items online and have the confidence to take full advantage of the 200 free listings that are available to us. Expect to see our NZMuseums listings grow this winter!

‘Our thanks go to Mark and to Lucie and the team at National Services Te Paerangi, as well as to Paul at eHive. All were very helpful and made the whole thing so easy for an older non-IT volunteer like me.’

Mark says that, apart from some of the incredible stories which are told by the photographs, documents and objects in the collection, the main memory of his visit will be Richard's infectious enthusiasm about all the treasures in his care plus observing how students were visiting the museum every day and using its collection as part of their schoolwork.

Image: from left: Richard Bourne, Wanganui Collegiate School Museum with Mark Holland.