Unlocking the Collection: A conversation with Paul Taylor


Paul Taylor has been a member of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees and Foundation Committee since 2017 and is currently Chair of the QAGOMA Collection Online Campaign, which is the focus of this year’s Foundation Appeal.

Through the Taylor Family Collection, Paul Taylor has generously helped the Gallery to secure several major artworks. These include Arthur Boyd’s Sleeping bride 1957–58 in memory of his parents, one of the most significant individual works of Australian art ever donated to the Collection; Gija artist Paddy Bedford’s Wirwirji – Police Hole 2004; and James Turrell’s Night Life 2018 architectural light installation at GOMA.

Lucy Whyte interviewed Paul about the campaign to digitise the Collection.

Paul Taylor viewing the digital capture of Victor Meertens’s sculptural work Delvig 1990 / Photograph: Katie Bennett © QAGOMA

What inspired you to lead the fundraising effort to help unlock the QAGOMA Collection?

Digitising the Collection will transform our galleries, exhibitions, and educational and curatorial content. It will have one of the most positive impacts on audience experience and engagement that has ever been delivered by a project at QAGOMA. At the moment, only ten per cent of the Collection can be on show in the physical galleries. Once digitised, we will be able to make the Collection available online 100 per cent of the time to 100 per cent of Queenslanders.

This transformation means not just the ability, for the first time, to exhibit the Collection so fully, but also to integrate online content with real-world exhibitions and link with enhanced and expanded curatorial content from QAGOMA and around the world. We will be able to deliver content that offers tailored experiences for audiences with disability, reaches remotely based audiences, fosters greater research and education, and delivers an enhanced cultural experience for all.

The more I think about what is possible, after we have digitised the Collection, the more I am excited about what QAGOMA can deliver for the community. This is what has inspired me to lead the fundraising effort.

In recent years, cultural institutions around the world have focused attention on making their collections more digitally accessible. How does QAGOMA’s project compare and why is the timing right to undertake the initiative now?

This project, which is part of the Gallery’s larger Digital Transformation Initiative, aims to position QAGOMA as a leader in digital content creation and access so as to maintain our position as one of the world’s most visited public galleries and a destination museum. QAGOMA is renowned for the exciting ways it connects people with the power of art and ideas — as it evolves, this project will place the Gallery amongst the best in the world.

In recent years, the software platforms required to expand access to the Collection have improved exponentially in both quality and interconnectivity. At the same time, the challenges the world has faced over the past year have sharply highlighted the imperative to expand QAGOMA’s digital offering. QAGOMA wants to ensure that everyone can experience the Collection and its interpretative content from any location, at any time. Institutions and corporations around the world are currently examining their digital infrastructure and strategy and QAGOMA is no different. This is a project of huge benefits and its time is now.

What would you tell someone considering giving to the Appeal?

When I contribute to a charity or a fundraising campaign, I am always focused on the size of the impact for the money I am donating. We are hoping to raise $5 million to digitise the QAGOMA Collection, which we believe will deliver tremendous benefits to the community. The Appeal will help all Queenslanders access their world-class Collection and will allow us to transform and enhance audience engagement and experience. QAGOMA is the soul of the cultural and artistic community in Queensland so I encourage everyone to consider donating to the Appeal.

Lucy Whyte is Bequest and Communications Officer, QAGOMA Foundation. She interviewed Paul Taylor in March 2021.

(Left) Digitising William Dargie’s Study for portrait of Albert Namatjira c.1957-59. Photograph: Lee Wilkes © QAGOMA / (Right) Lithograph on paper, 24.5 x 22cm, Gift of Timothy Roberts through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation 2020, Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, © Dargie Estate
Digital interactives will be easier to produce and present once the Collection is online, making our works more accessible to all / Photograph: Joe Ruckli © QAGOMA

About the Foundation

The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Foundation is the Gallery’s vital fundraising body. Since its establishment in 1979, the Foundation has raised more than $155 million, enabling the acquisition of more than 9300 artworks and supporting the development of QAGOMA exhibitions, publications and programs. 

Unlocking QAGOMA’s Collection will revolutionise how our audiences discover and experience art. Your support will help to make the entire QAGOMA Collection accessible to art lovers anywhere, at any time. 

Donations of all sizes are welcome, and those of $2 or more are tax deductible. For further information or to make a donation visit our website.

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Featured image: Paul Taylor with Victor Meertens’s sculptural work Delvig 1990, a gift of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre 1999, installed for digitisation in Gallery 14, QAG, March 2021 / Photograph: Katie Bennett © QAGOMA

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