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2022 Demos

Recorded Sessions

2022 Smithsonian Digitization Conference 

CLICK HERE for the youtube conference page


Demo #1: Our Universe through Sight, Sound & Touch

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 10:00am - 10:30am

Kimberly Arcand, Visualization Scientist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Information about our universe doesn't have to be just a two-dimensional snapshot. We can transform these digital assets to be able to listen, feel, or (virtually) move through cosmic objects. Listen to the debris from an exploded star, walk through the core of our Milky Way through virtual reality, feel vibrations of a stellar nursery, and experience our universe anew.

The 3D Universe has been a project over the past decade to map Chandra and other data into three dimensions that can be 3D-printed or experienced through extended reality. Part of a rapid-response digital project during the pandemic to help connect users with Chandra data through sound, the sonifications unexpectedly went viral and helped showcase how data experienced through other senses can evoke emotional experiences. Emerging technology applications using haptic response are being explored to further understand how we can access the data of our shared universe through touch.

Demo #2: National Numismatic Collection Mass Digitization

Track 2 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 10:00am - 10:30am

Hillery York, Collections Manager, Division of Work and Industry, Smithsonian National Museum of American History

In 2019, the National Numismatic Collection partnered with the Smithsonian Digitization Program Office to digitize over 25,000 coins and medals from the Josiah K. Lilly Jr., Paul A. Straub, and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich collections. This project was highly impactful in improving accessibility of the collection overall and proved to be an invaluable resource to researchers and staff who were unable to physically access the collections during the pandemic.


Demo #3: Design at Home

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 10:30am - 11:00am

Tiffany Lucke, Education Associate, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Micah Pegues, Cross-Platform Content Associate, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Design at Home is a cross-departmental collaboration which brings Cooper Hewitt's collection to life in a video series geared towards families and students. Each episode explores a theme which showcases collection objects in a quick lesson, followed by a hands-on making activity. This series, born out of the needs of families and students at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, reimagines how our museum might provide digital entry-points and access to Design and reach a national audience. Our fresh approach to digitally exploring Cooper Hewitt's collection has broadened our audience, serving tens of thousands of students, educators, families, and even other museum professionals.

Demo #4: Graham Palynological Collection

Track 2 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 10:30am - 11:00am

Carlos Jaramillo, Staff scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute 

The Smithsonian has the world’s largest pollen/spore collection of Neotropical plants, holding more than 25,000 species. Our team is digitizing it to train a neural network that will be used to help identify extant and fossil pollen/spores. With this developed, tested and in place, anybody in the world with a photo of a pollen grain could use it to identify the plant that produced the pollen. The platform that we will develop can eventually be applied to countless other microscopic specimens at the Institution.

Demo #5: Leveraging Wikimedia to Increase the Global Reach of SI Collections

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 11:00am - 11:30am

Andrew Lih, Wikimedian-At-Large, Office of Digital Transformation, Smithsonian Institution

Kelly Doyle, Open Knowledge Coordinator, Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative

Kelly Doyle and Andrew Lih will discuss Open Access and Wikimedia-based efforts at the Smithsonian Institution. Doyle will speak specifically to gender gap efforts and how the Smithsonian has committed to programmatic and curatorial efforts to contribute assets to Wikimedia to lessen the gender gap on Wikipedia. Lih will focus on the Wikidata aspects of this work and how collaboration with curators, archivists, and data scientists results internally in batch uploads of Smithsonian data to Wikidata and images to Wikimedia Commons. Doyle and Lih will together present how they are leveraging the Smithsonian’s Open Access launch to scale up Wikimedia contributions, especially in regards to underrepresented populations across Wikimedia projects.

Demo #6: The Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative (AVMPI): Reimagining Audiovisual Preservation at the Smithsonian

Track 2 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 11:00am - 11:30am

Alison Reppert Gerber, Preservation Coordinator, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives

Built around the incredible need for more robust audiovisual preservation at the Smithsonian, the Audiovisual Media Preservation Initiative (AVMPI) is a centralized resource, overseen by the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, that works to support units in cataloging, preserving, and providing access to our audiovisual collections. Through the development of a new state-of-the-art facility and creation of standardized physical and digital workflows, AVMPI looks to leverage our existing resources and expertise while also advocating for new resources to meet preservation needs.

Demo #7: Mass Digitization of Pinned Insect Specimens

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 11:30am - 12:00pm

Jessica Bird, Acting Collection Information Manager, Department of Entomology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Floyd Shockley, PD.D, F.R.E.S., Collections Manager, Department of Entomology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

In 2015 the Entomology Department participated in the museum’s first mass digitization pilot project funded by the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office. The goal was to create a workflow to increase the rate of digitization of pinned insect collections. The Bombus, or bumblebee, collection was chosen due to their charismatic nature and their importance as pollinators. They also lent themselves well to one-shot imaging since they maintain a relative size across species and many diagnostic characteristics can be captured in a single image.

In 2019, we had the opportunity to revisit this project. We were able to refine our process, complete the Bombus collection, and digitize the entire Xylocopa, or carpenter bee, collection. In total, over 75,000 bees were digitized in 72 days.

Demo #8: Q?Digital

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 12:00pm - 12:30pm

Jimena Pitty, Science Educator and Manager - Punta Culebra Nature Center (PCNC), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

STRI, aware of the importance of providing tools for critical thinkers at an early age, takes its science education to another level by inserting new education programs inspired by Q?rius at the NMNH, such as Q?rioso (pronounced ku·rio·so), a hands-on learning program meant to spark interest and questions about the natural world through collections, and the Q?Bus, a mobile program that packs the Q?rioso experience into a small bus, eliminating logistic and economic barriers to learning for public school students in Panama. With the temporary closure of schools as a result of COVID-19, STRI paused and readapted these Q? programs by merging them to create the Q?Digital program, a virtual learning platform designed to inspire and engage youth, parents, and their teachers in Panama (and beyond) by unlocking curiosity and wonder about the biodiverse tropical world with video games and animated videos available on the STRI website.


Demo #9: Activating Smithsonian Open Access Challenge from Cooper Hewitt's Interaction Lab

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 1:30pm - 2:00pm

Rachel Ginsberg, Director, Interaction Lab, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Ryan King, Program Manager, Open Access Initiative, Office of Digital Transformation, Smithsonian

The Activating Smithsonian Open Access Challenge (ASOA) from Cooper Hewitt’s Interaction Lab supported creative technology teams in designing engaging interactive experiences with Smithsonian Open Access collections for people all over the globe. Seven selected teams each received $10,000 to create new digital interactions and innovative tools that enable play and discovery with 2D and 3D digitized assets from the Smithsonian’s Open Access collections. The teams retain ownership of the intellectual property developed from the program. Made possible by Verizon 5G Labs, the ASOA program fosters a new approach to activating museum collections by expanding access to deep engagement for people of many abilities and interests and supporting creative technology teams in the process.

Now that ASOA is completed and the prototypes launched, the Interaction Lab and Open Access teams are excited to share insights derived from this exciting experiment in creative commissioning. By investing in a community of creators building platforms designed to be used by many people, ASOA reimagined a core creative development process that will rapidly expand the reach of Open Access and the Smithsonian.

Demo #10: Synthaisthesia

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 2:00pm - 2:30pm

Ian McDermott, Immersive Media Specialist, University of Maryland (Formerly Access Smithsonian)

Synthaisthesia is an open-source assistive technology suite developed with funding from the Smithsonian Innovation Accessibility Fund (SAIF) and the Smithsonian Year of Music. It establishes a new method and medium for visual description, where a user can navigate an image by pointing to its details, hearing descriptions along the way. The suite was developed to create an audio experience parallel to the visual experience of art—instead of moving one’s eyes and seeing the details, the user moves their hand and hears them. With this method, the user can understand where details of an image are in relation to one another and the image as a whole. Instead of having only a general understanding of the image via verbal description, the user can have a spatial understanding as well. The suite consists of two software applications, a handheld device and a hardware setup for a touchless interface using a Leap Motion controller.

Demo #11: Diversifying a Digital Platform: Expanding Alaska Native Collaboration and Engagement with Smithsonian Learning Lab

Track 1 - Tuesday, 03/22/2022 - 2:30pm - 3:00pm

Dawn Biddison, Museum Specialist, Arctic Studies Center, Alaska office, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center (Alaska office) created free digital education resources on the interactive platform Learning Lab, in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access. Teachers, students, parents and lifelong learners can explore Alaska Native cultures through texts, museum objects, photographs, lesson plans with activities and videos on arts, languages and cultural subjects – all created in collaboration with Alaska Native Elders, culture-bearers, scholars, artists and educators. Learn about its making from existing resources and new content created while working from home during COVID-19.


Demo #12: Reality Technologies and Applications for Research and Conservation

Track 1 - Wednesday, 03/23/2022 - 2:30pm - 3:00pm

E. Keats Webb, Imaging Specialist

Yeneneh Terefe, Former Virtual Fellow, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute

Reality technologies like VR and AR are playing a role in the modern museum experience and allow for visitors to engage with exhibitions and collections in new ways. While these technologies are being used for education, entertainment, and visitor engagement, VR and AR may also have the potential to enhance scientific and computational imaging for research and conservation of museum collections, allowing for new opportunities for analysis, interpretation, and visualization. A year-long remote fellowship has focused on researching the potential of reality technologies to support research and conservation through the integration of scientific and computational imaging for dynamic visualization and investigation. The remote fellowship was a reimagining of research and collaboration during the pandemic, and the research has been reassessing the potential of reality technologies in less-explored applications.

Demo #13: A Triangular Connection: Libraries' Wikidata Projects on Names, Collections and Users

Track 2 - Wednesday, 03/23/2022 - 2:30pm - 3:00pm

Jackie Shieh, Descriptive Data Management Librarian, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives

This demo intends to show the Libraries Wikidata team's experience with disparate datasets while participating in the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). We would like to show the resilience of staff to adjust and learn new technology to achieve two SI goals: increase and diffuse knowledge, and avail our collections through digital solutions. The linked open platform from Wikimedia Foundation offers ample opportunities to heterogeneous material types beyond simply publishing data in digital form. The platform offered by the Wiki ecosystem has excited the Libraries Wikidata team to re-imagine the multi-layer relationship between collections, descriptive data, and users.

Demo #14: 3D Capture of the Alto Saxophone Owned and Played by Charlie 'Bird' Parker

Track 2 - Thursday, 03/24/2022 - 11:30pm - 12:00pm

Joseph Campbell, Photographer, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

In April of 2019, the NMAAHC digitization team embarked on the challenge of creating a 3D capture of the alto saxophone owned and played by Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. That project was a catalyst for the digitization team to extend our digital toolbox and re-imagine what we could offer our museum and the public.

This workshop will build upon my recent presentations about how I captured and produced the 3D model for the alto saxophone but will bring into focus and share how we have since extended our reach, built out infrastructure, redefined workflows, and organized ourselves to support new imaging projects.

From 3D capture projects such as the 2021 Searchable Museum online digital experience, as well as public engagement with CC0 data from NMAAHC in 2022, the alto saxophone project opened the door to reassessing our impact and the possibilities of 3D content as the pandemic shifts the digital landscape.

Demo #15: ABC’s: Accomplishments, Benefits, and Consequences of Mass Digitization Projects at Smithsonian Gardens

Track 2 - Thursday, 03/24/2022 - 12:00pm - 12:30pm

Joyce Connolly, Museum Specialist, Smithsonian Gardens

Kelly Crawford, Museum Specialist, Smithsonian Gardens

More than a half-dozen mass digitization projects at  Smithsonian Gardens (SG) have resulted in thousands of images, documents, and museum holdings being made available online. All have repaid the investment in time, planning, and effort immeasurably. Having entire collections digitized online has enabled SG to answer diverse and unforeseen reference requests and allowed virtual volunteers to engage in projects that add value to SG’s collections. Support from the Digitization Program Office, other OCIO offices, and the National Collections Program have helped ensure that the robust products of SG’s digitization efforts are showcased in a number of far-reaching Smithsonian projects including Open Access, the Smithsonian Transcription Center, and the American Women’s History Initiative.