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2019 Digitization Conference Exhibits

2019 Smithsonian Digitization Pre-Conference Exhibits
October 1st - One Day Only!
Coffee 9:00 - 10:00 AM
Exhibits open 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

S. Dillon Ripley Center 
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Concourse, Sublevel 3

The Digitization Fair Exhibits will be an opportunity for visitors to learn about Smithsonian digitization projects

The Exhibits will be open to the general public (no event registration required to attend Exhibits) as well as to event attendees Tuesday, October 1st 






Smithsonian Learning Lab

The increased access provided by digital media technologies has made museum resources, such as cultural artifacts, historical documents, and scientific specimens, widely available. Educational researchers and practitioners are now developing effective ways to use digital resources—particularly those from authoritative sources, such as the Smithsonian Institution. Digital representations of the Smithsonian’s millions of resources have the power and potential to enable students to develop deeper learning competencies that will help them compete globally and the transferable skills that will help them succeed throughout their lives.

The Smithsonian established the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access in 1976 to serve public education by bringing Smithsonian collections and expertise into the nation’s classrooms. For more than 40 years, it has published educational materials and provided one access point to Smithsonian educational resources. To understand the needs of teachers, students, and museum educators, the Center spent more than a decade in active experimentation and research, culminating in the launch of this new online platform—the Smithsonian Learning Lab ( Since its launch in 2016, museum and classroom educators have used the Lab’s tools to create tens of thousands of new examples—ranging from experiments to models—for using Smithsonian resources for learning.


Digital Capture To Physical Reality

The Magic In Between

At SIE, digitized assets play a role in an increasing number of projects. The digitization process is utilized to a degree that we believe is becoming of greater importance to the institution. SIE would like to showcase how our ambitious problem solving can change the landscape of our museums. As well as, the ramifications for public outreach, research, and exhibit design, utilizing digital assets, and traditional model making. We perform a variety of different types of data collection including photogrammetry, white light scanning, and digital sculpting in order to create virtual and physical models. While very little of our work is designed to be viewed online, our work still allows us to reach audiences far away by allowing us to digitize, and replicate objects for traveling exhibits, and community engagement.

Part of the SIE mission is to make the Smithsonian available to a broad spectrum of those who wish to learn and explore. We have used our digital assets to create models for low-vision patrons, and teaching opportunities for docents. SIE is moving into the exploration of AR/VR technology will enable SIE to maximize collaboration efforts with other SI Units developing exhibit content to maximize online presence, as well as, the physical exhibit. This will also become an opportunity to generate permanent documentation of temporary exhibits.


Digitization on Demand

The Archives of American Art will present their efficient and cost-effective approach to fulfilling reference requests from researchers for reproductions, Digitization on Demand. Since 2016, the Archives of American Art has digitized nearly 67 linear feet through the Digitization on Demand program, increasing access to our collections online through researcher driven prioritization. Digitization on Demand also saves researchers the expense of travel to our Washington, DC reading room while increasing online access to collections for all researchers.

The program is a collaborative effort by our Digital Operations and Reference teams. Researchers request reproduction from collections with finding aids at the folder level or item level online through an integration with Aeon collections management software on our website. The DOD team scans the entire folder in high resolution and delivers either PDFs or TIFFs directly to the researcher. The resulting folder-level high-resolution images are ingested into the DAMS. All non-restricted collections folders are delivered online through our public website, assisted by CDIS with our CIS, the DAMS, and ArchivesSpace. The Archives of American Art team will discuss workflows, integration with Aeon software, CDIS, website UI/UX developments, reporting, and user feedback.

Inside Baseball: NMAAHC-LC Labs Digital Collaboration

To celebrate the opening of their new baseball exhibition, LC Labs hosted a flash build using digitized collection objects from NMAAHC, Library of Congress, and JSTOR. Prior to the event, the three groups, with LOC taking the lead, scrubbed and mapped the data so that the developers could work on prototypes, tools, and visualizations of the combine data set. The week-long flash build culminated in a day-long conference where NMAAHC, LOC, and JSTOR gave presentations about the process and unveiled the new digital tools that were developed. These tools, which are publicly available through the LC and JSTOR websites, allow users to engage with the objects in dynamic and exciting ways. This collaboration was a great exercise and proved that when institutions engage with each other, they can engage a wider audience of users together than they could alone.

LOC Mapping Baseball Tool:

Cultural Baseball Cards Tool:

Conference Presentations:

Data Prep blog:

These digital tools launched last summer, so we'll be able to share the impact they've had over the past year.

Smithsonian Science Education Center Smithsonian Science for Makerspaces

Smithsonian Science for Makerspaces is a series of free engineering design challenges for students to engage with emerging technologies through hands-on learning. Inspired by Smithsonian Science for the Classroom, these activities bridge formal science education and the makerspace movement by helping educators and teachers engage with digital and physical technologies within the context of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) by asking them to make something new. Smithsonian Science for Makerspaces has five free engineering projects that utilize a 3D printer.

The 3D models are custom made and available on the makerspaces website. In addition, each activity offers an array of additional student and teacher resources including: worksheets, lesson plans, a tech help guide and SI connections. website:

The National Air and Space Museum National Air and Space Photography Initiative: Panoramic Photography and Social Media Impact

In 2018 and 2019, two blog articles incorporating virtual reality (VR) tours were published on the National Air and Space Museum’s website. Based on website statistics, this poster presentation will showcase how we measure engagement for this type of storytelling. Included will be a comparison of the interactive VR tours, their impact of social media, and strategies for improving future articles. Over the past two years, the museum tour, Your Tour through the National Air and Space Museum, has been one of the top pages on our website. The article highlights a 360 virtual reality tour, which includes views of the museum exterior, interior spaces, and exhibition galleries.

Although web traffic has been high, session duration tends to be low. The VR display is the primary focus for engagement, but the product output (i.e., the tour) was not particularly user friendly. On the other hand, the post about Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega, Inside the Cockpit of Amelia Earhart's Vega, includes not only a VR tour of its cockpit, but also contains facts and photos of Earhart and her aircraft. The view time of the Earhart article is longer than the Museum tour, which may be the result of the addition of historical information or perhaps it is because the Vega tour is easier to use. Does adding context to an interactive component affect the amount of time spent on the site? Are audiences focusing on the visuals or interactives? This poster presentation will highlight the two VR tours and provide insights based on website engagement metrics.

The National Museum of American History Campaign Ribbon Inventory Triage

In July 2019 the National Museum of American History Public Space Renewal Project Inventory Team was asked to conduct an inventory of political ribbons in the NMAH Political History collection. This independent inventory was requested by the Division of Political and Military History to facilitate a planned conservation assessment of the ribbons. That future assessment would require an accurate count for the number of ribbons as well as a corresponding collections information system (CIS) record for each ribbon. A pre-inventory review of this collection indicated that NMAH did not have an accurate count of the number of ribbons in the collection and determining said count would not be possible without resolving legacy inventory issues. Reconciliation work to identify and remove duplicate CIS records would be necessary to achieve accurate digital records for this collection. The inventory and reconciliation work would need to occur prior to any conservation work.

At the conclusion of the inventory 1,598 ribbons had been inventoried in two weeks by the Team. As a result, each ribbon in this collection has a verified record in NMAH’s CIS with catalog and accession information. Conservation work has been able to go forward and will be enhancing the records with object photography and measurements. This inventory will also allow the ribbon collection to be more easily available for future projects such as exhibitions, loans, and research. These 1,598 accurate records will also go online as part of NMAH’s upcoming Data Share allowing for further public engagement with this collection.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Chandra HIPS: An interactive way to explore the X-ray Universe

Modern astronomical datasets are digital, but they are no always adapted for easy engagement by the general public for exploration and educational purposes. This is mostly due to the fact that these datasets come in different formats and have been obtained from different instruments, and specific expertise is required to manipulate them. In particular, simultaneous visualization of images of astronomical objects obtained at different "colors" of the electromagnetic spectrum, is not as straightforward as we would like, and this can hinder the willingness of both professional astronomers and general public to engage with valuable datasets.

This project presents the Hierarchical Progressive Survey (HiPS) format, an example of a meta-digitization technique that provides immediate, user-friendly access to astronomical images. Specifically, at SAO we have developed HiPS based on NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory images, and used this to create powerful visualizations of the X-ray Universe simultaneously with images in other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. HiPS removes barriers to access to the scientific legacy of the mission. HiPS can be used by professional astronomers and the public at large

The Smithsonian American Art Museum SAAM - Sansar VR

The Smithsonian American Art Museum demonstrates an experience based on the exhibition No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, which was been captured in 3D and rendered in Virtual Reality for perpetual exploration. No Spectators can be freely accessed via Sansar in VR and on desktop PCs, thanks to generous support from Intel, the exhibition’s lead sponsor. The VR experience faithfully reproduces the art from the exhibition, which was on view in the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC from March 30, 2018–January 21, 2019, and is now on a national tour. “The VR exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s mission to reach a billion people with its art, and virtual reality is one of the ways that the museum will accomplish that mission,” said Nora Atkinson, Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge, Renwick Gallery, who curated the exhibition. The demo will include two VR stations with access to Sansar, a virtual reality community, for attendees to experience the virtual exhibition.

Smithsonian X 3D OCIO, Digitization Program Office, 3D Program

See 3D scanning in action, experience VR, AR and MR tech, and bring your ideas and questions!

The 3D Program is a small group of technologists working within the Smithsonian Institution's Digitization Program Office. We focus on developing solutions to further the Smithsonian's mission of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” through the use of three-dimensional scanning technology, analysis tools, and our distribution platform.

Because of the scale of our challenge, we are partnering with the world's most advanced technology firms, collaborating on ambitious projects. Our hope is to help the Smithsonian share its collections with new audiences and find better ways to accomplish its mission, while giving our partners opportunities to develop new products and processes in automated, high-throughput, high-quality 3D scanning