African Digitisation Project – Museum

archived 1 September 2018 – see NEW PAGES for updated information on this project

African Digitisation Project

AFSAAP invites sponsors to assist in the African Digitisation Project.
Also see – 
Background and Update (

In the 1990s, Dr David Dorward (founding AFSAAP member and former AFSAAP president) photographed as many collections of African material culture as he could get access to, both in Australia and New Zealand. The following are the institutions he visited:

Abby Museum, Caboolture, Queensland
Anthropology Museum of University of Queensland
Queensland Museum
Material Culture Unit at James Cook University
Australian Museum, Sydney
Macleay Museum, University of Sydney
Museum of Victoria
Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery, Launceston
Tasmania Museum and Art Galley, Hobart
South Australia Museum
West Australia Museum
Otago Museum, Dunedin, New Zealand
Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand
National Museum, Wellington, New Zealand

The Museum in Auckland could not be accessed at the time. Similarly, photos of the objects in the National Galley of Australia in Canberra could not be taken, as they’d already been photographed.

There are about 6,000 35-mm colour transparencies; some objects boast multiple images. Objects were photographed against a uniform background, either matte white or light blue, and a scale accompanies most photos. Dr Barry Craig (formerly SA Museum and AFSAAP Member) has been managing this project.

The project will be done in stages: Stages 1 and 2 are complete. AFSAAP has provided a $10,000 grant to seed and complete these first two stages. Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors are required to complete stages 3-6.

Stage 1: Digitise the colour transparencies by scanning them at a high resolution, with each image given an ID code for the institution in which it is housed, and its registration number.

Stage 2: Create a dataset using the Institution ID and registration numbers and transfer basic data to the dataset from the registration information. Add a hyperlink from the dataset to the images.

Stage 3: Visit each institution (and those not already visited) to photograph all African objects not previously photographed and gather the relevant documentation.

Stage 4: Add the material from Stage 3 to the dataset.

Stage 5: Develop and code a hierarchy of geographical locations/polygons (villages/ethno-linguistic group/regions/countries) and apply these to the dataset.

Stage 6: Create a website (as an addition to the AFSAAP website) that enables the dataset and the images to be searched by ‘kind of object’ and by ‘geographical location’. For an example of what such a site might look like, go to, and click on Dataset.

AFSAAP has provided a $10,000 grant to start the project, and now invites individual, crowd or corporate sponsors to make a financial contribution to this African Digitisation Project. Australian resource companies working in Africa would benefit from this sponsorship.

Please contact if you would like to become a sponsor.

All sponsors will be acknowledged in all of AFSAAP’s official communications – monthly newsletters, website, emails, and journal the Australasian Review of African Studies.