National Portrait Gallery has overhauled its IT environment to more efficiently manage the process of digitising its collection of 2,500 artworks.

Previously the Canberra-based gallery would load photos onto a hard drive which was sent via post to a third party which uploaded the files to the gallery’s digital asset management system.

The digital asset management system is now managed in-house allowing the staff and the public greater access to the digital library of images. The new storage infrastructure will make the entire collection available to the public via website and ultimately enable the public to download high res images of the portraits (copyright permitting).

“We were after a scalable, reliable, fully-managed technology platform that could release our assets to the public, allow our image library to be updated in real time, and ultimately protect and secure our data while giving staff flexibility to plan and organise exhibitions,” said Trent Birkett, National Portrait Gallery’s Chief Operating Officer.

“Since its implementation, the new system has increased the efficiency of internal processes, provided seamless integration of previously incompatible platforms and ensured improved security around our data.”

Local IT consultancy firm Vintek, DataCore and Lenovo Data Centre Group worked together to build a new IT system which now underpins the digital transformation of the National Portrait Gallery.

“The National Portrait Gallery’s presence in the digital sphere is vital to the delivery of services to the Australian public. Investing in this system ensures we are able to continually improve our digital offer for our visitors and in our day-to-day business operations,” Birkett said.

The project has laid the foundation for further digital initiatives that will enhance the visitor experience. The gallery has developed an app which allows visitors to scan a portrait to access additional information such as videos and the biography of the portrait subject.

The gallery is also developing an app for visiting school groups that allows students and teachers to collaborate with students using the app to submit comments on the portraits they like.

“We now have the platform to provide a better visitor experience which we haven’t had before,” Birkett said.

Also on the roadmap is an upgrade of the gallery wi-fi which will be used to create a heat map of how visitors move through the gallery, which portraits they stand in front of and how long they spend in the gallery. This information will then be used to enhance visitor’s experience.

Discussing the management of the transformation project, Vintek’s founder and CEO, Paul Vinton said, “The new infrastructure is primed to support the National Portrait Gallery’s growth for the next five years. By leveraging Software-defined Storage with DataCore, the National Portrait Gallery has the flexibility to expand quickly and simply by adding extra hard drives to the servers and buying additional licenses as and when required. The solution has future-proofed the organisation, providing a stable environment for many years to come.”

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