The Impact program identifies and implements standards, methodologies, strategies, and community initiatives that, when shared across Smithsonian museums and infrastructure, enhances the use of digitized Smithsonian collections for existing and potential audiences. The Smithsonian’s large, digitized collections lend themselves to a host of new explorations in areas such as machine learning, APIs, linked open data, data visualization, and image interoperability. In an ongoing effort to grow existing audiences and reach new ones, the Impact program keeps abreast of ways to use digitized collections as datasets to enable new insights and new forms of access, with the ultimate goal of helping the Smithsonian make a greater impact with its digitized collections.
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. We are exploring how we can make our digitized collections meaningful, inspirational, and significant: in other words, digitizing for impact.