Plans for Cowra virtual museum shelved by council

Plans for a virtual museum in Cowra have been put on the back burner by Cowra Council due to a lack of interest from community groups.

In his report to council, Director of Corporate Services, Michael Jones, said there was a lot of initial support for the project.

"In 2009, 2013 and 2016, building a Cowra museum was raised during public consultations as an objective of Cowra's heritage organisations," Mr Jones said.

"A working group of four staff members was formed to develop a concept for Cowra's Virtual Museum.

"On January 31, 2018, the concept pilot was demonstrated to local cultural organisations. Over 46 participants attended.

"The pilot concept was well received. Based on this initial level of interest from community groups, Council was asked to develop a pilot site."

Mr Jones said interest in the pilot then fell by the wayside.

"Subsequently, community groups have not engaged in the project," he said.

"Council has on numerous occasions tried calling, emailing and writing to all groups in an effort to sign up to being part of the pilot.

"One Cultural Council member stated that some of the organisations considered the virtual museum would decrease their revenue as their images could be downloaded freely."

Mr Jones said there was also considerable costs involved in setting up and maintaining the virtual museum.

"After considerable effort on behalf of Council IT staff, it was determined that the Council was unable to complete the pilot to the standard required," he said.

"There is currently no provision in the Long Term Financial Plan 2020/2029 for any spend on this project.

"If the lowest and highest submissions are excluded, Council is still looking at upwards of $10,000 to complete long with ongoing hosting costs."

Councillor Ruth Fagan said a decision had to be made on the future of the project.

"I thought it was a great idea and it got quite a lot of support in the beginning," Cr Fagan said.

"It seems like a virtual museum is something our community probably isn't quite ready for at this stage and we obviously don't like to leave it hanging but we need to make some sort of decision about its future.

"It is a great idea and other communities have done it but obviously we haven't got the knowledge or enthusiasm for such a technical vision."