Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Nowra, is a small-medium sized gallery owned and operated by Shoalhaven City Council to both house and display the City Art Collection and also to provide the local community with access to a wide range of artists and exhibitions. While the gallery was only established 15 years ago, the City Art Collection dates back to the 1960s, with Council acquiring the winning works from the local Art Society Annual Prize. Since that time the collection has grown through donations, purchases and gifts and now has around 800 works in a variety of media.
Prior to the purchase of Vernon CMS, the collection relied on an access database developed in 2012 by one of the IT staff within the council. The database was difficult for Gallery staff to use and as a result, had not been updated or changed since the 2012 work. This made valuations, audits and collection interrogation very challenging.
Vernon CMS was chosen as our preferred CMS for a range of reasons. We wanted a system that gave us the capability to expand our collection record keeping when we had the capacity, but was still simple enough for day to day and immediate use, had strong reporting functionality and where system updates and support were readily available. We were impressed at how engaged Vernon was with the sector and their innovations and understanding of not just the big organisations but the needs of small, regional, volunteer-based sites as well.
Since moving to Vernon CMS in 2017 we have gone through a major process of tidying up our records, working through many different documents to pull together information, and matching images to collection files. With a very small team of volunteers donating a few hours each month, this process has taken time but has been very valuable for ensuring our records are complete and all the information that was scattered across several places has come together in a single database.
Our next step is to put the collection records online. We have been doing a lot of thinking and research around this and look forward to working with Vernon to develop a website that encourages playful engagement with our collection while also providing information and opportunities for researchers, visiting curators and academics to discover the treasures hidden in our store room.
Thank you to Bronwyn Coulston, Manager Arts and Culture / Director, Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, for this insight.