Collection databases Digitisation Metadata Powerhouse Museum websites

Australia Dress Register – public site goes live

The first iteration of the public front end of the Australian Dress Register went live a few weeks back. This release makes visible much of the long data gathering process with regional communities that began in 2008 and continues as more garments are added to the Register over time.

The ADR is a good example of a distributed collection – brought together through regional partnerships. Many of the garments on the site are held by small regional museums or, in some cases, private collectors and families. It is only through their rigorous documentation and then aggregation that it becomes possible to tell the national stories that relate to changes in clothing over the last 200 years.

The ADR extends the standard collection metadata schema that we use for documentation at the Powerhouse with a large range of specific data fields for garment measurements and the quality of preservation. These have been added to allow costume and social history researchers to explore the data in greater detail and granularity. A good way to see the extra level of detail in the ADR is to compare a record on ADR with the same object record in the host institution’s own collection (where it is available online).

Here’s the child’s fancy dress costume from 1938 on the Powerhouse site, side by side with the same object on the ADR. (Click to view the full records)

The Resources section of the site provides volunteers and contributors without the capacity of the major capital city museums to better understand the best practice methods of preserving, documenting and digitising their garments along with a range of simple how-to videos.

The Browse and Search uses Solr on the backend and offers extensive faceting (Here’s just the discoloured garments with buttons). There are multiple views for search results with configurable list and grid views, and relevance, recency and alphabetical result ordering.

The Timeline is one of the visual highlights of the site, along with being rather cool from a technical perspective too. As the collection grows the Timeline and Browsing features will become more valuable to traverse the rich content.

There’s a lot more to go with this site and you’ll be seeing many more records contributed from around the country over the coming months.