Yes, you read that right. The Powerhouse Museum is the first museum to join the Commons on Flickr! And we’re excited because it went live today!
In the tradition of ‘slow food’ we have decided to do a slow release of content with an initial 200 historic images of Sydney and surrounds available through the Commons on Flickr and a promise of another 50 new fresh images each week! These initial images are drawn from the Tyrrell Collection. Representing some of the most significant examples of early Australian photography, the Tyrrell Collection is a series of glass plate negatives by Charles Kerry (1857-1928) and Henry King (1855-1923), two of Sydney’s principal photographic studios at the time.
We have also done something a little different to the Library of Congress – we have also started geo-tagging as many of the images we are uploading as possible. You can jump over to Flickr and see the images plotted on a map, then zoom in to browse and navigate. We are really excited by the possibilities that this opens up – suddenly ‘then and now’ photography becomes possible on a mass public scale. Because these images are being added to the Commons they are provided as having “no known Copyright” allowing maximum reuse.
We joined up with Flickr because we knew that the Tyrrell Collection were still largely unkown by the general public. This was despite fully catalogued sections (275 images) of the collection having been available on our own website for many years, as well as some of the semi-catalogued images (680 images) more recently in our collection database. We had also syndicated a feed of the fully catalogued Tyrrell images to the National Library of Australia’s Picture Australia. There are nearly 8000 Tyrrell images in total.
What Flickr offers the Powerhouse is an immediate large and broader audience for this content. And with this exposure we hope that we will have a strong driver to increase the cataloguing and digitisation of the remaining Tyrrell glass plate negatives as well as many more the previously hidden photographic collections of the Powerhouse.
There is a little bit of a back story here too. Joining the Commons happened rather by luck. Thanks to Maxine Sherrin and John Alsopp at Web Directions, George Oates from Flickr and I were speaking at the same event (Web Directions South) last year and were introduced. George visited the Museum during her time in Sydney and met the Image Services, Web Services, and Photography teams and we resolved to do something together. At that stage, the Commons was not public knowledge, and after it launched, George, being an ex-pat Australian, and I planned to get the Powerhouse Museum involved as soon as possible. Thanks to the swift work of Paula Bray and Luke Dearnley at the Powerhouse, as well as the support of internal management, the Museum has been able to seize this fantastic opportunity and react quickly.