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Digitization Fair Exhibits

2017 Smithsonian Digitization Fair
October 18th and 19th
Washington, DC


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 that demonstrate Impact.

The Exhibits will be open to the general public (no event registration required to attend Exhibits) as well as to event attendees Wednesday, October 18th and Thursday, October 19th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT, so please drop by!




Smithsonian Office of the Chief Information Officer and SI Units

Smithsonian Transcription Center

The Smithsonian Transcription Center (TC) creates indexed, searchable text by means of crowdsourcing. The service supports varying data needs from 19 archives, museums, and libraries, and has deepened engagement with the public since its launch in June 2013. The program creates extended engagement with digitized collections - quantified by over 14 minutes average visit time and qualified by daily testimonials from volunteers in social media and feedback email. The Smithsonian Transcription Center can be visited at  It is a project from the Smithsonian Institution Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO).

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) created the Smithsonian Learning Lab to inspire the discovery and creative use of its rich digital materials—more than a million images, recordings, and texts. By encouraging users to create and share personalized collections of Smithsonian assets and user-generated resources, the Learning Lab aspires to build a global community of learners who are passionate about adding to and bringing to light new knowledge, ideas, and insight.

Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art

Freer|Sackler 3D Digitization and Printing

Freer|Sackler's (FSG) Imaging and Photographic department will showcase our unit 3D printing efforts using our digitized collection from DPO and in-house digitization. We are going to demonstrate live 3D printing using two 3D printers in two different materials. Ember from Autodesk with Prototyping Resin and Prusa i3 MK2 with PLA and wood filament material. In addition, we will showcase our in-house 3D digitization efforts using photogrammetry method.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Digitization Impacts on Herbarium Collections Management

In 2014, the United States Herbarium had 40+ years of digitization to be proud of, resulting in 1.5 million specimen records in our data catalog. However, with 3.5 million pressed specimen sheets in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) collection, we needed a faster and more efficient method to digitize our specimens. The Digitization Program Office helped us solve this problem by employing a digitization conveyor belt to image our specimens. In 16 months, we have digitized nearly 1 million plant specimens. A surprise result of this project is the considerable number of ways in which herbarium collections management benefits from the project.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

360° immersive multi-image HTML-5

Over the past year, the Collections Department of the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) has been developing a multi-image compositing technique for 360° imaging. This process was developed to document, with high resolution photography, the cockpits and interiors of aircraft. We’ve been working towards automated capture and enhanced post-processing with commercially available software. The result is a product which is formatted in HTML-5, so it is viewable on multiple operating systems and a wide range of devices. We have developed processes to incorporate additional information about the features of the aircraft into these images, to further facilitate the understanding of the artifact.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Beyond the Walls- a SAAM VR Museum Experience

The Beyond the Walls VR experience was undertaken as an exploration and proof of concept to show how Virtual Reality (VR) offers users the educational and cultural experience of enjoying museum artworks, outside of the more familiar VR realms of 360 video or gaming. Together, Intel and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) have used the project to explore how VR helps address real-world physical limitations, such as space constraints that keep large numbers of artworks off view in our buildings, or visitor limitations, such as not being able to travel to Washington, DC.   The project demonstrates how advanced techniques can bring to a PC and room-scale VR System the very same hallways and gallery walls that exist within SAAM. Using 3D Light Scans, Advanced Photogrammetry, Visual Effects, Augmented Reality, Volumetric Capture, Game Engines and 4K Video, users are immersed in the 2nd floor of SAAM's East Wing. Users may step inside a painted canvas to experience the real Aurora Borealis, watch gilded relief carvings and paintings glow, be transported to a moonlit cemetery, or meet the artist Alex Prager as she waits inside her own video installation, sharing her inspiration for her piece.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology

Circumpolar Ethnology Imaging

The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Circumpolar Ethnology Imaging Project has imaged 6,000 cultural objects from the Arctic and Subarctic regions to date. The products of this project facilitate programs such as the Inuvialuit Living History site, Recovering Voices, Breath of Life, and routine repatriation efforts, which work to empower indigenous groups to reconnect with their collections. For museum anthropologists working in digitization, access and impact are not dissociable results.


Project PHAEDRA: Preserving Harvard's Early Research and Data in Astronomy

Recently, research material originally produced during the mid-to-late 19th century and early 20th century by researchers at the Harvard College Observatory was re-discovered. The material represents the history of the Harvard College Observatory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, showing the evolution of observation methods and early astronomy. In order to showcase these early researchers' work, engage the community with the collection's contents, and to enable research on early astronomy for future generations, the Wolbach Library is partnering with the Smithsonian Transcription Center, Harvard Library, and the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) to digitize, transcribe, and fully index these works for the public in ADS.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology

Digitizing the Archives: Language Revitalization Today

Tribes across America are capitalizing on the increasing availability of digital resources such as those sponsored by Recovering Voices. Since 2011 more than 3000 pages of archival documents have been digitized, directly impacting more than 128 communities across the US and Canada through the National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages. As a result of a 3-year grant from the Arcadia Foundation to the National Anthropological Archives (NAA), over 1 million pages of archival pages, 4,000 ethnographic sound recordings and over 65,000 pages of Indigenous linguistic material have been made accessible to tribes across the world. These resources are revolutionizing the way language and knowledge revitalization is being undertaken. Drawing on the experiences of 3 specific communities, Recovering Voices will highlight the critical difference digitization is making for language revitalization efforts today.

Smithsonian Institution Exhibits

Increasing accessibility and understanding for audiences, including the visually impaired

The Smithsonian Institution Exhibits (SIE) 3D models of groves / audio impressions project with NMAH and Karl Haber of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The fossil walrus tusks, NMNH. The Paraphronima model collaborator was Karen Osborn, NMNH. The Camptosaurus skull collaborator was Matthew Carrano of NMNH, giving Carolyn guidance on how to morph the adult skull into a juvenile correctly.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History 

A Global Registry for Scientific Collections: Striking a Balance between Disciplinary Detail and Interdisciplinary Discoverability

The Global Registry of Scientific Collections (GRSciColl; is an online information resource developed at the Smithsonian to digitally gather and disseminate information on scientific collections. Building on initiatives started for biological collections (, GRSciColl expands this framework to encompass all scientific disciplines. The goals of GRSciColl are to (1) provide a single source of synoptic information about the collections, their institutions, and staff; and (2) facilitate the assignment of identifiers that are unique across all disciplines. The impact of this effort is illustrated through the ease at which collections can be discovered by researchers from across disciplines, including collections that are small, underfunded, closed, moved, etc.

Smithsonian Office of the Chief Information Officer/ National Museum of Natural History

Applying deep machine learning to digitized museum specimens

While the Smithsonian Institution has a long history of building physical collections, more recently, researchers and staff have also been generating large digital collections, such as images from mass digitization efforts, DNA sequences from genomics, and data from ecological sensors. Given the large amount of data being generated from these efforts, the Office of Research Information Services (ORIS) has established a new effort in data science. In a collaboration among the Department of Botany (NMNH), the Digitization Program Office (DPO), ORIS, and industry partners like NVIDIA, we are using deep machine learning to automatically characterize digitized herbarium sheets. Our pilot project is focused on the automatic identification of herbarium sheets that have been contaminated with mercury during the preservation process. The automatic identification of contaminated sheets will expedite mercury remediation in the NMNH herbarium. Our tool also has the potential to be used by herbaria around the world. We hope that the success of this pilot project will encourage subsequent projects in deep machine learning, potentially revolutionizing our understanding of large digital museum collections.

Smithsonian Digitization Program Office/ National Air and Space Museum

Experiencing the collections through 3D models

The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia was home to the three-person crew of history’s first manned lunar landing mission. On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins (later Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum) launched aboard Columbia atop a 363’ Saturn V rocket. It housed the crew en route to the Moon and remained in lunar orbit while Eagle landed on the Sea of Tranquility. Four days later, Columbia returned the crew safely to Earth, withstanding reentry temperatures up to 5000 °F. Experience what is was like to sit in the Commander’s seat using new virtual reality technology. The groundbreaking 3D model was created for the National Air and Space museum through a collaboration with Autodesk and the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office.