In 2005, Puke Ariki received the donation of the Swainson/Woods Collection, a nationally and regionally significant photographic collection. The archives are from two local photography studios which operated between 1923 and 1997, Swainson’s Studios and Bernard Woods Studio. This collection traces both the lives of Taranaki people and the development of photography over time. The collection features a wide range of studio portraiture and local photographs of public and social events.
Since the Swainson/Woods Collection arrived at Puke Ariki in 2005, the 110,000 negatives it comprises have been cleaned, catalogued and re-housed, with the support of the Lottery Grants Board, the Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET), Puki Ariki Trust and Puki Ariki.
The digitisation of the Swainson/Wood Collection began on 1 July 2013. The Swainson/Woods digitisation team, Amber, Clare, Chris and Milly, are working hard taking high-quality images of the original negatives and manually processing each RAW image file to create a positive image as close to the original as possible.
Online Access Through Vernon Browser
Every week, hundreds of new images are are processed by the Swainson/Woods digitisation team and are being added to the online Vernon Browser catalogue. Puke Ariki Pouarahi Tukuihotanga / Manager Heritage Andrew Moffat believes Vernon Browser is an important way for Puke Ariki to make this collection available.
Another important tool that has proved popular with website visitors is Swainson/Woods Fresh. Here we tailored the highlights function of the Vernon Browser to display the recently added images for people to browse without specific searching. “Vernon Systems has proved they are always willing to help us look at ways to improve user experience. As the project evolves and develops we are keen to keep exploring new possibilities of online engagement.”
Since the Swainson/Woods digitisation began, usage of the online collection has skyrocketed. While content is being added across the heritage collection, the emphasis placed on the Swainson/Woods collection is responsible for much of this. In the first six months of the project, from 1 July 2013 – 31 December 2013, page views increased by over 100% to 226,000 views. Average visit duration increased to just under 7 minutes. Usage continued to build in the first six months of 2014, with
269,933 views. Users on the site during this same period increased 17 per cent to 21,402.