Thursday 29 March 2012

Musing magazine: Carnamah's dot com

Below is the article "Carnamah's dot com" which we contributed for the Spring 2011 edition of Musing, the magazine of Museums Australia WA

Back in 2003 we started a website. We couldn’t have imagined where it would take us. Jump forward to 2011 and we’re receiving 20,000 online visitors a year and have seen Carnamah featured at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. It reiterates how beneficial online publishing can be. To us it has become a medium to publish and share our information, our history and our collection.

In 2003 we acquired some free webspace (very exciting!) but were then a little confounded as to what we should do with it. Obviously we wanted to make the world more aware of us – but information about us alone would be very boring. We concluded that we needed content to attract and engage with people interested in Carnamah’s history.

Through the evolution of a few projects our database was born – an ambitious project to chronicle in detail the lives of everyone who had ever called Carnamah home. It would be published on our website freely available for all to see. Corrections and additions were invited, and we could easily update it online as it expanded. We also reproduced online our local cemetery, honour roll and war memorial in addition to adding a history of the district and pages on our museum and an old homestead.

It is this online content that has made our website a success. Most people navigate the vastness of the internet through searches. Most visitors to our site arrive via an internet search that usually has nothing to do with Carnamah or our museum. Most have searched a name, subject, event or other terms that are included in our database. This is fantastic exposure and pulls in a lot of visitors who weren’t looking for us but are interested in what we have to offer.

One day we received a phone call from George Main, a curator at the National Museum in Canberra. From a Google search on soldier settlement he had come across our website and in particular our Carnamah-Winchester Database. He was impressed with our content and wanted to make the story of post-WW1 solider settlement in Carnamah part of the museum’s then forthcoming gallery.

The gallery, Landmarks: People and Places across Australia, opened in June 2011. Among the places featured from around the country is Carnamah. In conversation with George Main at the opening he remarked in reference to our database that “there’s nothing else like it in Australia.” It is very possible that there is something else like it somewhere – but it’s tucked away in a file, folder or book.

In more recent times we have expanded to the realms of social media with a Facebook page, Twitter account and blog. We are in the process of uploading quality scans of hundreds of historical photographs and booklets to Flickr with slideshows embedded on our website. Our biggest step forward is to create a virtual museum on website using photographs of items.

We are very excited to share these things with the much broader audience we receive online. It must be said, though, that our physical museum benefits equally. Our online endeavours spark up an interest in Carnamah and its past that has resulted in more people making the journey to Carnamah to check out the district, its history and our museum.

You can check us out online at

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