A new, free digital platform that provides access to the extraordinary collections from Western Australia’s main cultural institutions through a single, searchable portal, has gone live.
Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman today announced the launch of Culture WA which brings together collections from the Western Australian Museum, the State Library of Western Australia, and the State Records Office of Western Australia. Collections from the Art Gallery of Western Australia will be uploaded next year and will feature exciting new Aboriginal content.
The first phase of the Culture WA portal incorporates about 1.6 million collection records, covering material that ranges from single documents, research papers, maps and papers, to clothing, medals and toys, to thousands of scientific specimens. Being able to search the State’s diverse collections from a single point will improve and broaden access to the unique stories of Western Australia.
Culture WA will also be a platform to share some of the significant but lesser-known stories from collections through objects that are not always on public display. One of those featured is the work, life and tragic death of C.Y. O’Connor, the State’s first Engineer in Chief. Visitors to the portal can view material relating to engineering works he was responsible for, including Fremantle Harbour and the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. They can also read the last words he wrote before taking his own life. The note is part of the inquest records of his death held by the State Records Office – a sombre personal document but also an important part of WA’s history.
Also featured is a story about the Perth Prohibited Area – the result of a former government policy which excluded people of Aboriginal heritage from the centre of Perth. The Prohibited Area was enforced from 1927 until it was abolished in 1954 and required Aboriginal people to always carry a permit or ‘Native Pass’ on their person, which was to be produced immediately when questioned by authorities.
The portal has been created using existing resources from across the State’s culture portfolio agencies. As more of the State’s collections are digitised and uploaded, more information and stories will become available. Culture WA can be found at https://culture.wa.gov.au/
As stated by Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:
“In today’s digital world it is absolutely essential for the State’s cultural collections to be accessible online.
“Culture WA is a marvellous tool to help people search for and learn about the Western Australian stories that are important to them. It will provide so many new opportunities, whether that be to carry out family history research, find information about Australia’s Aboriginal heritage, or learn more about our culture, environment, and way of life.
“Being able to search across all of our extraordinary collections of objects, stories and information at the same time is more efficient and user friendly – it just makes sense.”