Telstra Purple Helps Museum of Performing Arts Bring Historic Collection to Global Audience

Telstra Purple is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner

Executive Summary

Telstra Purple uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help Western Australia’s Museum of Performing Arts (MOPA) easily add thousands of new artifact photos, bring a memorabilia collection to global users, and deliver search results in milliseconds instead of up to a minute. Telstra Purple, an AWS Public Sector Partner, uses a serverless AWS environment based on AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB to deliver an online database and easily searchable website to hundreds of thousands of users all over the world.

Documenting Western Australia’s Rich Performing Arts History

For many years, international musicians, actors, and dancers have performed in theatres and other venues across Western Australia. The Museum of Performing Arts (MOPA) is dedicated to capturing the memories of those performances through a collection of more than 45,000 catalogued items, including historic costumes, photographs, scripts, and music scores. However, many of the images of these historic pieces of memorabilia were at risk of being lost. “We stored everything in an aging and unreliable database, and in some cases we had only a single copy of an item’s image and data. If the database went down, that critical data could be lost,” says Gavin Bagley, Director of Digital Transformation at the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC), the state government entity that manages MOPA’s IT requirements.

MOPA also needed to improve the user experience for people searching for memorabilia on the museum website. “The site was difficult to navigate and not responsive, so people struggled to find images and data easily,” says Glenn Hall, Director of Venue Operations for Perth Theatre Trust, the state government agency that runs MOPA. “This was a problem because we wanted to unearth some of the historical information that was stuck in our archives, and ultimately make our collection more discoverable by people across Australia.”

Telstra Purple Uses AWS Serverless Technology to Modernize an Aging Solution

DLGSC turned to the local branch of technology company Telstra Purple in Western Australia for guidance. Telstra Purple, based in Melbourne, Victoria, is the global technology arm of Telstra, an Australian telecommunications company. Telstra Purple offers professional and managed services through offices in all major Australia territories. Telstra Purple is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, and an AWS Public Sector Partner. “DLGSC initially approached us to help revamp the MOPA website, but it soon became apparent that this would be a much larger technology project,” says Alex Colville, Account Manager for Telstra Purple. “We were dealing with an older database system that had to be modernized and scalable as the image collection grew over time.”

Telstra Purple proposed an AWS serverless solution to address MOPA’s challenges. “DLGSC was already using some AWS services, and we knew a serverless AWS environment would help the organization scale while reducing the costs of operating the database and website,” Colville says.

Telstra Purple implemented a website and database environment based on AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB, with Amazon Elasticsearch Service used to run Elasticsearch across the site. MOPA images are stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and the museum uses AWS CloudFormation templates to quickly spin up compute resources on demand. MOPA also relies on Amazon CloudFront as the content delivery network for its revamped website.

In addition, Telstra Purple worked with DLGSC to improve the website’s usability. “We brought in a full-time user interface consultant to analyze and improve navigation, search, and responsiveness,” says Colville. Telstra Purple also helped MOPA enhance its security by moving to AWS. “The data used to be stored locally, but there weren’t the best backup and recovery capabilities in place,” says Hall. “Now, we have a fully managed environment with increased security.”

Easily Adding Thousands of New Photos

DLGSC can now scale its website and database on demand, making it easy to add thousands of artifact images and support new customers across the globe. “Instead of an old on-premises environment with an inefficient database, MOPA now has a scalable, elastic serverless solution on AWS that is cost-effective and only uses compute and power when it’s being consumed and queried,” says Colville. “MOPA has been able to quickly put thousands of new photos online, and it can more easily support new users, such as students researching the collection.”

Ivan King, MOPA archivist, elaborates on the value of discoverability, saying, “This new database is designed to make researchers’ minds dance—to prick, poke, and prod their imaginations with colorful imagery. That’s when their brain cells are ready to absorb dry facts and figures about the wonderful world of show business.”

Bringing a Historic Collection to the World

Using its new AWS-based solution, MOPA is making its collection of memorabilia available to users within and outside of Western Australia. “We now have a searchable and publicly accessible collection that is highly discoverable through our new website,” says Hall. “Our previous site didn’t allow indexing of specific items by search engines, so we had an impressive collection that was somewhat hidden from anyone outside MOPA. On AWS, our collection is more visible and prominent, and it’s encouraging more site visits by people all over the world.”

The solution also helped MOPA continue operating during venue closures. “Like many arts organizations, we had to pivot and focus on digital services because we suddenly had no museum attendees,” Hall says. “Using AWS, we can enable people who can’t physically be here to interact with the arts online.”

Delivering Search Results in Milliseconds Instead of 1 Minute

Telstra Purple improved the MOPA website’s interface and searchability, so users can quickly find the artifact images and data they need. “It often took up to a minute to get an image search result, but now it’s immediate,” Hall says. “The site is much more responsive on AWS, and it’s more intuitive for people to navigate the entire collection. Previously, you had to know the exact performer or performance date you were looking for. Now, users can easily search the entire database with a keyword.”

Protecting and Preserving Important Arts Memorabilia

Telstra Purple helped MOPA protect and preserve its critical collection of memorabilia by moving to a serverless AWS environment. “There is great cultural history in our collection, and we spent many years digitizing it to archive it. We can’t risk losing any of this data,” says Hall. “With the solution Telstra Purple implemented on AWS, we are confident we can preserve it for years to come.”

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

About the Museum of Performing Arts

The Museum of Performing Arts (MOPA), based in Perth, Western Australia, is run by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC). It houses more than 45,000 cataloged items of memorabilia from artists who have performed at His Majesty’s Theatre since 1904. MOPA’s collection includes costumes, photos, press clippings, scripts, scores, and other historic artifacts that are publicly exhibited at the theatre.

About Telstra Purple

Telstra Purple is the largest Australian-owned technology services company, providing a range of comprehensive services focused on outcome-based, transformative technology solutions. The company is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner and an AWS Public Sector Partner.

Published September 2020