The Pacific Virtual Museum Pilot Program

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
National Library of Australia
National Library of New Zealand
Describe the main features of the policy/measure: 
The Australian Government funded a collection mapping project in 2017 that revealed that over half a million Pacific cultural heritage objects are held in around 650 public institutions around the globe. The Pacific Virtual Museum pilot program began in 2019 with Australian Government funding to recognise the importance of culture and equitable access to information. The Pacific Virtual Museum provides a single digital portal for photos of online Pacific heritage items, improving access for Pacific peoples to cultural heritage items held in various collections around the world. The pilot is being implemented by the New Zealand National Library, in association with the National Library of Australia and Pacific museums and galleries. The museum website was co-designed through an online process led by cultural heritage experts from twelve Pacific countries. The website went live on 17 November 2020. The Pacific Virtual Museum website is a major cultural resource that encourages communities to connect and contribute to records of traditional knowledge and serves as an academic, research and educational resource. The website currently hosts 72,041 items from 16 institutions and private collections based in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Going forward the pilot will prioritise engagement with state and non-state institutions and community groups from the Pacific to enable them to consider ways to benefit from and contribute to the website. The pilot will also deliver outreach and capability-building activities to ensure the website is used within research and educational programs.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the policy/measure?: 
There has been positive support for the website since its launch in November 2020. Several regional and international organisations with significant collections of Pacific cultural heritage items have indicated their interest in participating in the pilot including the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University and the British Museum. There is a steady engagement on social media, with users sharing their discovery of cultural items never seen before. Media outlets in the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia have covered the launch of the website and interviewed several of the cultural heritage experts who designed the website. The pilot commenced with a target of 15,000 items to be accessed from the website. Having surpassed that mark within three months of the launch of the website, a revised target of 250,000 items has been set before the pilot ends in April 2022.
Financial resources allocated to the policy/measure in USD: 
US$1,100,000 (A$1,400,000)
Partner(s) engaged in the implementation of the measure: 
Has the implementation of the policy/measure been evaluated?: 
Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)
Visual Arts