Unlocking the Collection: Making artworks discoverable


The QAGOMA Digital Transformation Initiative is a wide-reaching program that aims to position the Gallery as leader in digital content creation. Several years in the making, the project was greatly accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdown. Here, Morgan Strong demystifies this substantial undertaking.

So, what does ‘Digital Transformation’ mean? Frequently, this is an umbrella term for updating software, digitising processes, replacing manual workflows, leveraging new opportunities . . . but really, it’s simply about integrating digital into all areas of what an organisation does. In the Gallery’s context, and for our audiences, this means three main things: making our Collection more available and accessible; embracing digital as a communication tool via virtual and digital channels; and aligning what we do as an organisation with the many opportunities afforded by being digital.

Watch as we capture Nindityo Adipurnomo’s ‘Introversion’

Nindityo Adipurnomo, Indonesia b.1961 / Introversion (April the twenty-first) 1995-96 / Carved wooden objects, photographs, mirrors, cast resin, found objects, gauze curtain, paper, glass, hair, nylon and fibreglass / 390 x 616cm (diam.) (installed); 21 parts: 75 x 45 x 15cm (each, approx.) / Purchased 1996. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Nindityo Adipurnomo / Timelapse: Lee Wilkes © QAGOMA

We can represent artworks at such a resolution that when you see the work on a device, you’ll be able to see it in a lot more detail than ever before. The Collection will be more easily discoverable and offer you similar works for inspiration. We can share multiple voices and interpretations and make them more accessible. A digital transformation for the Gallery means bringing the Collection to members of communities where a digital connection can bridge an existing gap. Also, back of house, it means more processes can be automated, so there’s more time to do the important work of curating, designing, expanding and publishing on the Collection, and to reflect on and embrace what art means to the state. To make this happen, we’re embarking on this major project of digitising the Collection, which is the focus of this year’s QAGOMA Foundation Appeal.

If we have digital content for the whole Collection, the publishing capabilities are endless. The ability to cross-pollinate this data with other sources will enable new and novel meaning. We are also embarking on improving the administrative systems that we rely on to do our jobs: currently, our Collection Management, Digital Asset Management, Constituent Relationship Management and internal collaboration systems have either been upgraded and are in the process of being rolled out, or they’re in active development.

Watch as we capture Joan Miró’s ‘Monument’

Joan Miró, Spain 1893-1983 / Monument cast 1970 / Bronze with black patina; base of welded steel, painted black / 289.5 x 103 x 65cm / Purchased 1983. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joan Miró/Succession Miró/ADAGP/Copyright Agency / Timelapse: Lee Wilkes © QAGOMA

Perhaps most importantly, the Digital Transformation Initiative has also resulted in new products and new digital ways of sharing our Collection: during the lockdown of 2020, we launched an early ‘beta’ or experimental Collection Search site to gather feedback in determining its most important elements and to show how we can rapidly publish and iterate on the artworks in the Collection. We have developed new media players that will allow you to see the x-ray and infrared layers of artworks; started creating maps of where works were created; and cross-linked Collection works with related videos, blogs and Artlines articles. We are building mobile tools so you can easily access this content even as you stand in front of the physical object. And we’ve only just begun.

Over the next few years, this foundational work will start making its way into the QAGOMA website, and our digitisation output will start meaning we can produce more and more valuable content for our audiences. It’s an exciting time.

Morgan Strong is Digital Transformation Manager, QAGOMA

Our photographers are currently capturing every artwork in the Collection, including works so large that a whole gallery space has been transformed into a photographic studio to accommodate them / Photograph: Lee Wilkes © 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 through the 2021 QAGOMA Foundation Digital Appeal 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.

Know Brisbane through the QAGOMA Collection / Delve into our Queensland Stories / Read more about Australian Art / Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to go behind-the-scenes

Featured image: Photographer Merinda Campbell in the process of capturing Introversion (April the twenty-first) 1995-96 by Nindityo Adipurnomo for the Gallery’s digitisation project / Photograph: Lee Wilkes © QAGOMA

#QAGOMA 2021-2