Smithsonian Institution Website

Digitization Program Office

A Showcase for Digitization Projects at the Smithsonian

Impact! The importance of digitization at Smithsonian

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 14:56 -- AndersonN

This year’s Digitization Fair is open to the public! The topic for 2017 is IMPACT

Seats for Day 1 are still available, but going fast!  Click here to find out more and register!

Why “impact”?  Cultural heritage institutions know how to make their digital collections accessible. Our new challenge is demonstrating how they can shape lives, society and the large issues of our time.

Why digitize?  The Smithsonian’s collections are vast! We have 156 million museum objects, artworks and specimens; 156,000 cubic feet of archival holdings; and 2 million library volumes, but less than 1% of our collections are on display in our 19 museums, 9 research centers and National Zoo.  Mass Digitization (digital photographs of flat and non-flat objects) and 3D Digitization (virtual and 3D printable models) gives us an opportunity to bring the remaining 99% of the collection to the public. 


Although our holdings are greater than most, the Smithsonian is not alone in facing physical space limitations that restrict the amount we can display. Most cultural organizations have a similar situation. By digitizing our collections, cultural institutions expand their capacity and ability to make their collections more accessible. But making collections accessible is only part of the process. The 2017 Smithsonian Digitization Fair is an opportunity to explore how we can make our digitized collections meaningful, inspirational, and significant: in other words, digitizing for impact.

The Digitization Fair is sponsored by the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office. This two-day event will explore how digitized collections can affect lives in significant and measurable ways by:

  • Showcasing examples where digitized collections have initiated creativity, innovation and change in some area of human endeavor;
  • Exploring ways museums, archives and libraries can maximize the impact of their digitized collections; and
  • Investigating ways museums, archives and libraries can measure the impact of their digitized collections.


DAY 1: Come out to the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium (10th & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC) on March 14th to hear keynote addresses and panels involving experts from outside the Smithsonian.  LIMITED AVAILABILITY

DAY 2: Come to the S. Dillon Ripley Center (1100 Jefferson Dr., SW, Washington DC)  on March 15th to hear keynotes and panels from the Smithsonian’s own experts, and visit exhibits that demonstrate work underway around the Smithsonian (no ticket needed to view exhibits).  SOLD OUT, but will be webcast here:


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