The Big Community Cataloguing Project

Earlier this year, the Collections & Cultural Projects Team launched an exciting pilot project - the BIG CCAT, or Big Community Cataloguing Project. This project is a remote access, online cataloguing initiative with a focus on increasing social interaction and wellbeing. It is mutually beneficial for the Trust and for community members seeking to gain tangible museum skills. 

The project was inspired by the work of Ashleigh Giffney, Collections Manager at the Burke Museum in Beechworth, who designed an online cataloguing unit for Deakin University interns working during COVID-19 lockdowns. Ashleigh has generously shared her project with other institutions, and the Trust is grateful to her for guidance and support with the BIG CCAT. 

A team of five interns are piloting the BIG CCAT project. The interns are from diverse professional backgrounds, including existing passionate Trust volunteers, recent graduates, and current master’s students. The project provides a flexible volunteering arrangement that enables interns to gain industry experience whilst balancing other commitments and responsibilities. The project also facilitates connections with fellow interns and NTAV staff. 

The interns meet weekly, either in person or online, for training workshops designed to increase their knowledge and skills in collection management. The workshops have covered cataloguing collection objects, evaluating significance, handling objects, digitising collections and use of the collection management system, Vernon. The interns are also provided with comprehensive step-by-step resources to guide them through their work in their own time. The resources created for this project will also be used for volunteer training across other Trust collections projects.  

In 2021 the NTAV, in partnership with NTWA and NTQLD, purchased a new Collection Management System called Vernon. NTAV staff are working with staff at Vernon Systems to build a website which will enable online access to our database records. The BIG CCAT project was set up to fast-track the digitisation of objects in specific NTAV collections.

We are delighted that the Vernon Browser was launched earlier in November. Showcasing featured collections in the National Trust’s Art and Heritage Collection, the browser can be accessed online here. The Vernon Browser is a valuable tool for promoting and sharing NTAV collections and is an engaging way to demonstrate the huge amount of work involved in managing such a wide-ranging and significant Art and Heritage Collection.


How it began

The project commenced with a focus on the art and photographic collection at Mulberry Hill, the beautiful home of Sir Daryl Lindsay and Lady Lindsay, bequeathed to the NTAV in 1984. The collection has been fully catalogued; however, it lacks photographic collection documentation. 

Georgina Jefford, an artist and photographer, generously contributed to the project by volunteering her expertise in object photography. To date, Georgina has photographed around 60 of the artworks in situ, documenting the artworks where they were hung by the Lindsays themselves. The works photographed have included revered Australian artists such as Frederick McCubbin, John Longstaff, Arthur Boyd, and John Perceval.  

Working from the NTAV head office, Tasma Terrace, the interns have been scanning and digitising this photographic collection and have created unique object records for close to 300 Mulberry Hill photographs. 

During the project, the interns had the opportunity to meet with members of the Collections & Cultural Projects Team in person and online. In ‘Ask a’ sessions, interns asked questions about career trajectories, the distinct roles in the Collections & Cultural Projects Team and what they look like, and the weird and wonderful challenges each role presents.  


Get Involved

The BIG CCAT pilot project is increasing NTAV’s cataloguing capacity and enriching our collection research and image database while helping volunteers forge a path in the sector and make new connections. 

The NTAV will be evaluating the pilot and hope to continue to develop and refine the project into the future. The BIG CCAT project is creating new opportunities and ways of working with collections for the Trust and volunteers and increasing opportunities for the public to engage with our rich and significant Art and Heritage Collections.

If you are interested in becoming involved with this project, please contact CCP Team staff at 


The article was written by Ellen Becker, Collections Project Assistant, and was first published in the 2023 Winter Edition of the National Trust Magazine.


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