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The Mukurtu ‘Wumpurrarini-kari’ archive was the alpha version of the Mukurtu CMS. It was piloted with the Warumungu Aboriginal community and tailored specifically to their needs.

Aboriginal Hand artThis marked a stepping stone in the project development and allowed users to browse existing archive material, place content, and even add new ‘users’ with their own profiles. Today Mukurtu is a fully fledged software solution employed by diverse organizations – including the NMAI, part of the Smithsonian Institution.


Blending functionality with analytics is a crucial goal of modern software platforms and has always been a key goal moving forward with the project. An announcement on new collaborations will follow soon as the development team looks outwards for fresh talent and impetus.

Before Mukurtu: The Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal

This portal laid the foundation for what is now the Mukurtu CMS. It was utilized by a number of tribes from the Northwestern USA coast to share materials, preserve heritage, and buildup collections of knowledge. The portal features a range of administrative options allowing a hierarchy of users; content tagging; and extensive editing capabilities. Visit the portal.

Cultural Sensitivity and Tailored Sharing

Mukurtu adapts to any community. The CMS empowers communities, allowing them to choose how their content is shared. It also allows them to define how material is accessed by museums, libraries and public archives. Non-technical users can easily manage their content with a range of drop-down menus providing extensive customization ability. This video shows how the Warumungu community in Central Australia made the CMS work for their own particular cultural norms.

Why Mukurtu?

Mukurtu, pronounced (MOOK-oo-too), was a name given to the CMS by an early user from an Australian tribe. Fittingly, it is a shortened version of a word referring to a special safe-keeping place used by members of the tribe. The Mukurtu is a bag in which special possessions could be stored in older times, safe in the knowledge that anyone who defies the command would be cursed.

Similarly, the digital archive preserves uploaded material and ensures the tribe’s heritage is safely kept. And although the Mukurtu CMS is aimed at sharing information, adaptable tools mean that this particular South Australian tribe is able to separate what is seen by different users. In respect of local norms, for example, men are unable to see the stories of their wives or daughters. In a similar essence to that old bag, the archive is both private and a safe keeping place online.

The Archive

It is important to remember, however, that the project is not just about storage. Even though Warumungu cultural norms dictate that privacy must exist in some capacity, the archive allows many people to interact and transmit material and culture.

Some Features of the Mukurtu CMS

  • My Family Items: Profile based content delivery system.
  • My Collections: User-generated content groupings.
  • Burn CD: Burn a CD directly from the browser, linked to MyCollections.
  • Print: One click print from display page.
  • Admin Override Search: Gives administrators full control over content search and retrieval.

Technical Specifications

  • Environment: MySQL server and PHP scripting language on a Web server (Apache, e.g.).
  • Platform: All supported (XP, OS X, etc). Note, CD Burning from the browser requires OS X and certain file permissions.
  • Examples: The archive runs locally on an iMac in a MAMP package (Mac OSX, Apache, MySQL, PHP), or on a Windows PC running XAMPP. The package will also run in core Web server environments.

Media Mentions

  • Mukurtu was covered by the BBC: watch Kimberly Christen give an interview to the BBC show Digital Planet. She extensively discusses the Mukurtu CMS amongst other issues.

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