The Auckland War Memorial Museum is committed to honouring those New Zealanders whose lives were lost in armed conflict. The Museum commemorates New Zealand's deceased service personnel with two Halls of Remembrance and a wealth of resources relating to New Zealanders at war. Many of these resources are now available online thanks to the dedication of the Museum's curatorial staff and Atlantech's software solutions.
Visitors to the Museum's Armoury Information Centre are able to access information about deceased servicemen and woman through Cenotaph, the Museum's electronic Roll of Honour database. Cenotaph is also available online through MUSE, a web-based interface which offers public access to the Museum's electronic resources.
While the Museum has maintained the Cenotaph database for over ten years, it was only made available online with the introduction of MUSE. Atlantech developed MUSE to import datasets from the Museum's various database platforms and allow the imported records to be searched and accessed online by the public. Cenotaph is now fully integrated with MUSE, and it has quickly become one the Museum's most popular online resources.
The Cenotaph database contains records on over 35,000 deceased New Zealanders who served in the Anglo-Boer War, the two World Wars, the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, and recent peacekeeping operations. While the primary focus is on those personnel who died in conflict, many records are also available for servicemen and women who passed away after service. Biographical information and a summary of each person's service history is available, and many records also contain portraits, images and links to a variety of related resources. These resources include personnel files held at Archives New Zealand and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour database.
Accessing Cenotaph at the Armoury Information Centre is easy, thanks to a simple graphical interface. Customised design templates allow MUSE datasets to be displayed differently in each gallery, so the workstations in the Information Centre employ a military-themed design rather than the generic Museum interface. This helps to construct a thematic link between the Cenotaph database and the War Memorial galleries in the Museum.
Visitors to the Information Centre and the Museum's website can find personnel records quickly and easily using MUSE's intuitive search engine. Basic and advanced searches are available, allowing users to search records by keyword, serial number, name, conflict, year of death, age at death, military awards, unit, and iwi. A range of search tips help users to find the records they require.
Each personnel record presents a range of information, such as cemetery of burial, biographical notes, and place of death. Many records also contain references to resources in the Museum Library, including tapes, manuscripts, journals and books. Cenotaph users wishing to search for related resources can easily access the Library catalogue via a navigation tab at the top of each screen.
Visitors to the Armoury Information Centre can also access a range of military-related electronic resources. Resources are categorised by individual conflicts, weapons, and medals and decorations. The resources include interactive CD-ROMs and military-related websites. Every workstation in the Information Centre is equipped with headphones, so visitors can access multimedia resources including videos and sound clips. Printers at the Information Centre allow visitors to print out any information they require.
The Cenotaph database has proved to be an invaluable research tool for the families of deceased service personnel and military historians. However, there is still room for expansion. The Museum's immediate goal is to add more biographical data about New Zealanders who died in conflict, with a particular focus on servicemen from the Auckland region and women who served in the last two centuries. The Museum's long-term goal is to add every New Zealand serviceman and woman to Cenotaph, increasing the size of the database by over 100,000 records. While these goals will be achieved through the efforts and dedication of the Museum's curatorial staff, it is Atlantech's software solutions which will help to make these goals a reality.