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New focus for culture online.

The Powerhouse Museum has won a $570,000 contract to host the Australian Museums On Line (AMOL) site, the Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, announced today.

Australian Museums On Line, established in 1994 through the Cultural Ministers Council, is a comprehensive Internet site designed to increase access to Australia's heritage collections and history, as well as provide services and information to museums.

'This Government recognises it has an important leadership role in providing online access to public information and services across a wide spectrum of sectors. AMOL is a fine example of the potential to increase access to the resources of our cultural institutions,' Senator Alston said.

Senator Alston welcomed the involvement of the Powerhouse, saying the focus would be on content development.

'The expansion of the site will look at ways to highlight art museums, natural science collections and indigenous collections within AMOL. The site will increasingly become a gateway to showcase Australia's heritage,' Senator Alston said.

'The arts community, as a key source of content for the information economy, has an important role in ensuring Australia remains at the forefront of global developments.

'By making better use of online services such as the Internet for promotion and education, the vision and energy of the arts community can provide impetus to the rest of the nation.'

The contract announced today covers consultancy services to support ongoing development of AMOL, maintenance of the information on the site to ensure its currency, relevance and accuracy, improving access to collection information, developing thematic stories based on collections of participating museums, creation of resource directories of conservation expertise, course, materials and resources for the museum sector.

Responsibility for development of AMOL lies with the On Line Working Party of the Heritage Collections Council, as endorsed by the Cultural Ministers' Council. The site features searchable collections (more than 170,000 items) in 950 museums; a forum with more than 100 members where museum issues can be debated and information exchanged; an events calendar; and links to related sites.

AMOL will form an integral pan of Australia's Cultural Network - an Internet gateway to Australia's broader cultural sectors, expected to be launched in April.

AMOL is funded through the Heritage Collections Council and the Department of Communications and the Arts.

In announcing the new contract, effective from 15 January 1998 to June 1999, Senator Alston paid tribute to the National Museum of Australia, which has until now hosted the AMOL site. AMOL is at http://www.nma.gov.au/amol

Contact:

Terry O'Connor, Minister's office 0419 636 879

Jenny Pavilack, Powerhouse Museum 02 9217 0551

Karen McCormick, Department of Communications and the Arts 02 6271 1251

Website: http://www.richardalston.dca.gov.au