Rethinking museums: Smithsonian’s ambition to reach 1 billion through digitization

Did you know that you could recreate a sitting statue of former President Obama thanks to a 3D print model created by the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office, or DPO?

Working with the Smithsonian’s DPO on their communications has immersed us in the technology and craft of digitization and all the amazing things technology is doing right now to enhance our access and experience with the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum collection, with 155 million objects, of which nearly 146 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History. Smithsonian’s collection comprises 3,000 years of world history, and millions of years of natural history.

New digital technology will enable Smithsonian to reach more people in more places, and the Institute has an ambitious goal to reach 1 billion people through digital means. SI’s Digitization Program Office (DPO) at the Smithsonian, is on a mission to increase the quantity and quality of digitization across the Smithsonian.

Cultural heritage digitization allows photographs of flat and non-flat objects and

3D digitization (virtual and 3D printable models) to be made accessible as online collections – to researchers, educators, and the public. It’s a real game changer for museums and transforms the collections from something exclusive to objects that can be easily spread and shared throughout the world. Also, cultural heritage digitization opens new doors to researchers allowing them to have all the sources at the tips of their fingers; for example, the newest update is the botany collection. This collection contains millions of digitized plant specimens from the past three centuries, providing research and outreach.

Digital specimen record, part of the botany mass digitization project.

Digitization gives a curious child the chance to climb into a virtual Apollo 11 through a 3D scan that’s so detailed you can read what the astronauts wrote on the walls. And it allows everyone to see, to touch and to feel history – such as the Presidential Portraits.

If you’re curious, check out their website to learn more about their work and find some of the great resources they provide.

Silverbee is proud to support the Smithsonian’s DPO with a strategic communication plan, messaging and content, which will highlight the important work they’re doing.