Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Smithsonian Institution joins Flickr Commons

The Smithsonian Institution announced on June 18 it had joined The Commons on Flickr, with an initial set of 800+ images. The photos are available here. (Thanks to Boing Boing.) From the announcement:
... The images in this initial Smithsonian posting came from the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, National Postal Museum, Anacostia Community Museum, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and Smithsonian Institution Libraries. ...

The photographs include a small but broad selection of the 13 million images in the Smithsonian collections—only a fraction of which have been digitized. The Smithsonian images now on Flickr are organized into six sets: Smithsonian’s First Photographer, American Celebrations, Portraits of Artists, Portraits of Scientists and Inventors, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and People and the Post. These sets contain photographs collected from outside sources, as well as those taken by Smithsonian staff, and represent a broad range of subjects and themes in art, history, culture and science. Links are provided from each photograph to the Smithsonian Web sites that contain additional information about the images and the collections they represent.

“Our goals in participating in The Commons on Flickr are to expose new, larger, broader and younger audiences to our photographic collections and help them discover more of the Smithsonian educational resources,” said Richard Kurin, Acting Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. “We also hope to learn how Web site visitors use our digital collections so that we can better serve the public.”

Highlights of Smithsonian images include a cyanotype of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1910; a 19th-century portrait of Albert Einstein and other scientists; and images from the Silk Road program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2002. In addition, there are 250 images from Thomas Smillie (1843-1917), the Smithsonian’s first photographer, who documented all important events and research trips for the Smithsonian; American celebrations, such as personal family celebrations, world expositions and national powwows, the celebrations of Native American dance and song; and a selection of images from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual event on the National Mall. ...

During the next several months, the Smithsonian will provide more than 1,200 digital photographic images to Flickr. ...
Comment. The Smithsonian is the fourth institution to join The Commons, after the Library of Congress, the Powerhouse Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.

The Smithsonian was previously the target of guerrilla archiving by Public.Resource.Org, which posted 6,000+ of the institution's images on Flickr more than a year ago.