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Digitisation and Database Coordinator

Royal Academy of Arts
Art Museums and Institutions, Digital
   Location: London
   Salary: Up to £31,000
Experience: Mid Level
  Organisation: Royal Academy of Arts
Deadline: 31/10/2018

Digitisation and Database Coordinator (18 month FTC)

About the Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts is one of the UK’s foremost arts institutions and our vision is to be a clear, strong voice for art and artists. It is a particularly exciting time in our history. We are making major investments and transforming our physical and digital infrastructure and our public offer. An ambitious ‘Masterplan’ by David Chipperfield RA has  redeveloped our 2.5-acre campus in Mayfair, uniting our two buildings and providing refurbished galleries for the display of art and architecture, a state-of-the-art auditorium, a new learning centre and new collection displays, including a dedicated Collection Gallery. The Collection Department is responsible for: works of art, archives, historic and modern books, photographs and other objects such as silver, furniture and artists’ memorabilia. Most of the RA Collection is Designated by Arts Council England as of national importance.

With the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the RA has also launched a new online presence for the RA collection, fully integrated with the main RA website. We have newly digitised over 10,000 works from artists’ letters to historic books; from sculpture to drawings, and from palettes to archives. We are in the process of releasing them to the website. Within the Heritage Lottery Fund Activity Plan, digitised material from the RA’s Designated Collection is also the foundation for a variety of projects, activities and events, to help the public explore and celebrate the RA’s cultural significance and history.

A suite of collection databases (Collections Index +) drives the website and is at the heart of the Collection Department’s day-to-day work. The Digitisation and Database Co-ordinator will oversee the management of and ongoing improvements to the databases, work with Collections and project teams to help deliver projects including the final stages of the HLF digital project, continuing activities using digitised collections and partnership initiatives such as Art UK Sculpture. The post will work closely with the RA Digital department to oversee ongoing improvements to the collections interface on the RA website and manage a Digital Trainee.

We are looking for a committed and diligent person with experience in working with collections, libraries and/or archives. You will have had previous experience of working with collection databases and familiarity with digitising art or archival materials. You will have collaborated with people such as curators, archivists and librarians to make art, architecture or history come to life.

You must have a proven track record of delivery, meticulous attention to detail and a flexible approach to work. In return, we offer a rewarding position in a growing institution and the chance to be part of the RA’s future.

Note that following the successful opening of the new displays and launch of the new online collection, the structure of the Collection Department is under review to ensure the most efficient operation of the new resources and this may lead to some changes to the detail of this role.

Closing date for applications: Weds 31 October

Interviews will be held: Week of 5 November


Job Title:                    Digitisation and Database Coordinator (Collections)

Department:                Artistic Programmes (Collection Department)

Reporting to:               Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture


Key Responsibilities

  1. Oversee software developments for the Collections Index + databases and co-ordinate planned upgrades and improvements and act as main point of contact for database developers (System Simulation Ltd.)
  2. Co-ordinate the digitisation of selected items through onsite scanning and digital photography
  3. Co-ordinate new photography of larger objects including paintings, sculpture, oversize works on paper and Historic Books from the Collection both onsite and offsite, liaising with departmental colleagues, as well as booking photographers and spaces
  4. Process images from photographic sessions, check images, make required adjustments, add to database and manage workflow to ensure database records are checked by curators and copyright status is updated
  5. Work closely with Digital Department to ensure smooth operation of integrated RA Collection website and manage improvements
  6. Work with the collections team to deliver improvements to the Asset Management System and Picture Library systems
  7. Provide user support for the Department on the collection database system, advising staff on effective ways to use the databases to improve efficiency and consistency
  8. Supply digital content to support collections digital projects, the delivery of public programmes, workshops, events and to support the participation of target audiences
  9. Contribute to work to clear copyrighted material and negotiate clearance of material to enable the release of images to the website
  10. Contribute to the development of digital interpretation, including the supply of relevant material and technical assistance to ensure the creation of effective digital content as needed
  11. Work closely with the Volunteer Development Manager to manage existing project volunteers
  12. Work closely with the Volunteer Development Manager to manage the Digital Trainee and ensure they receive a quality traineeship, are equipped to carry out the tasks specified for them and achieve a RQF Level 3 Diploma in Cultural Heritage, with support from the Culture& New Museum School
  13. Closely manage budgets for digitisation and software development
  14. Improve the system for retrieving and supplying images, working closely with the Picture Library
  15. Carry out administration tasks, and record-keeping to support reporting on progress internally and to funders including the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  16. Build and extend a network of professional contacts to develop knowledge of current best practice in digitisation, and participate in discussions with fellow professionals.

The successful candidate will have:

  • Experience of digitisation within a collections, library, archive and/or similar context
  • Experience of digital asset management
  • Experience of working with a collections database
  • Understanding of collection digitisation standards, technical requirements for the digitisation of art objects and/or documents and collection care
  • Experience of delivering projects on time and on budget
  • Flexible and adaptable approach to work
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Excellent interpersonal skills including diplomacy
  • Ability to work collaboratively and to take responsibility when required
  • Use of software packages particularly Excel and Word; Photoshop desirable
  • Good logical, analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Effective time management and an ability to multi- task and prioritise effectively


  • Experience of working with volunteers or trainees in the context of a collections or digitisation project
  • Knowledge of copyright law
  • Knowledge of the principles of photography
  • Knowledge of metadata standards
  • Knowledge of ISAD(G) and Spectrum standards
  • Knowledge of picture library systems

Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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