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Cultural Heritage Activities

Most of ASAPís activity in helping preserve and make accessible the archives and history of science, technology and medicine in Australia stemmed from Tim Sherratt and the ASAP Canberra Office in 1997. The development of our Internet resources has remained a primary focus with about 25% of the 52 active projects in this area dealing with the provision of online services through ASAPWeb and Bright Sparcs. The major achievement of the year and certainly of Timís last six months, was the completion and launch of the Cabinet of Curiosities. However, there were also significant achievements in the development of online exhibitions and the securing and making accessible of the records of individuals and organisations.

Selected Highlights

Cabinet of Curiosities

The official launch of the Cabinet of Curiosities on 26 February 1997 signified the successful completion of a whirlwind project to design, commission and construct the Cabinet and its art works. But this was really only the beginning. In late March the Cabinet arrived in London aboard the Endeavour and was officially handed over to the Royal Society of London in early April. In June the Cabinet joined the Kaleidoscope of Life touring exhibition which opened at the Australian Museum. For extensive details on the Cabinet, its contents and its tours around Australia visit the web site.

Kew Asylum Museum and Archives (Willsmere)

This important project drew together expertise from ASAP, the Museum of Victorian and museum consultant Richard Gillespie to capture part of the built environment of, and document the Kew Asylum in Victoria. This was a truly rare opportunity to assist in the preservation of one of the most grand Victorian buildings constructed in Melbourne. The purpose-built mental asylum, now a residential condominium, has been a Melbourne landmark for over a century. The museum and archive, which is located in the communicates in a graphic and powerful way the reality of the environment and context of the treatment of mental disorders in Victoria.

ASAPWeb and Bright Sparcs

Visits to ASAPWeb and its resources on history and archives of science, technology and medicine were monitored throughout 1997. At the start of the year we were receiving between 30 - 40,000 visits per week on average but from September onwards there was a steady increase in the number of visits. By December an average of 90,000 visits per week was achieved and the rate of increase looks to continue. The consistency of this increase in the number of visits not only reflects the increasing number of Internet users but also the quality and depth of content offered on the ASAPWeb site. Feedback from users reveals the strong role the Internet can play in linking society in general to its past.

The Giantís Eye: The Optical Munitions Exhibition

The launch of this project was mentioned earlier but what was not mentioned was the model it provides for similar online exhibitions to enhance access to our archival and historical resources. While the exhibition tells a story of great interest in its own right, all the key characters mentioned are linked back to their Authority File entry in Bright Sparcs. This key reference or focal point links the individuals to other information sources and archival sources and provides a mechanism whereby further links and enhancements can be made easily and simply in future thus extending the web of historical associations and relationships. This structure conforms to the International Council on Archives standard for Authority Files and demonstrates how powerful they will become when they are fully implemented.

Scientist and Research Project Records

During 1997 significant advances were made on the record collections of the following scientists or specific research projects: CSIRAC, First Generation Computer, 1947 - 1964; Dewar Wilson Goode, Environmentalist and Pastoralist, 1907 - ; Alan John (Jock) Marshall, Zoologist and Explorer, 1911 - 1967; Peter Mason, Physicist and Science Broadcaster, 1922 - 1987; Phyllis Margaret Rountree, Bacteriologist, 1911 - 1994; and John Stewart Turner, Botanist, 1908 - 1991.

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Published by: Australian Science Archives Project on ASAPWeb, 1 September 1998
Comments or questions to: ASAPWeb (
Prepared by: Lisa Cianci
Date modified: 1 September 1998