Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wikimedia + Archives of American Art = #wikilove

This summer I have the pleasure and honor of being the first Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Smithsonian! More specifically, I'll be spending the next few months working at and with the Archives of American Art. The Archives of American Art holdings consist of the world's largest collection of primary resources related to American art - from letters to photos, sketches to oral histories - if you are an art historian, there will most likely be a time when you will seek to utilize the archives of AAA.

(To the right is Greek-American artist Jean Xceron from AAA's collection. This photo is in the public domain, as it was taken by the Works Progress Administration! And yes, it's in Commons already ;)

I will be working closely with Sara Snyder, webmaster, Karen Weiss, the Archives Information Systems Manager, and curatorial, collections and archival staff. Their passion for sharing and digitizing their collections are inspiring, and I can only hope that my own passion for sharing, educating and "freeing information" can be equally as inspiring - encouraging to other Smithsonian related organizations too.

One question I get frequently is "What the heck is a Wikipedian-in-Residence?" You can learn a bit more about the concept & origin from the first Wikipedian-in-Residence Liam Wyatt's blog.

There are a few things I hope to achieve there this summer, some of these plans include:

  • Expand coverage on Wikipedia about topics relevant to the Archives of American Art's collection. This includes providing sources for existing pages and writing non-existent pages about notable topics.
  • A content donation to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Work on an e-volunteer program, inspired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art's program.
  • Collaborate with art history related educational programs outside of the museum (university level) to work with students for article contributions.
  • Brown bags and workshops with Smithsonian employee & volunteers.
  • Examine statistical data related to traffic from Wikimedia websites to the AAA's website.
  • A backstage pass tour for GLAMWIKI.
  • Case study
  • .....and so much more!
I've also been speaking with other GLAMs about their involvement with Wikimedia, including the National Building Museum and the Special Collections Resource Center at George Washington University. The National Archives will also have a Wikipedian-in-Residence this summer! This is already turning out to be a great year to be a Wikipedian, riding the wave of the free encyclopedia's 10th birthday and the search for affordable and unique ways for GLAMs to expand awareness about their collections.

A quick side note - if you haven't had a chance to read Lori Phillips's guest blog "Museums & Wikipedia: The Future of Collaboration and Accessibility" on the Center for the Future of Museum's website, then get on top of it, darnit. It really speaks for what we're hoping to achieve in GLAMWIKI, and as a fellow masters student (at different schools) and colleague of Lori's (the Wikipedian-in-Residence at The Children's Museum), I'm proud to be associated with her and her work, which has served as a cornerstone for GLAMWIKI work.

Thanks to all who have support my scholarly labors, and I can't wait to see what happens this summer!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yesterday I co-presented with Katie Filbert at Ignite Smithsonian, which was held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

A group of 20 speakers came together to share Ignite talks - a fast paced, fun five minute presentation about something great - all from the cultural/tech sectors. A lot of fascinating, informative and well thought-out concepts and ideas being executed around the world about technology within museums - from augmented reality to concepts of a non-museum.

Katie and I talked about GLAM/SI and how people and museums can contribute to our goals related to Wikimedia and GLAM.

You can watch our presentation, which will soon be edited down by speaker. But, check it out for now, we start at 10:15.

You can also download and view the PowerPoint:

Thank you Michael Edson, the Director of Web and New Media strategy at the Smithsonian for putting this all together and allowing us to co-present. He's working hard at the creation of Smithsonian Commons, which intends to change how we see institutions on the web and accessibility to information.

At lunch I was able to join great folks at the John Hopkins Museum Studies program; Director Phyllis Hect and Assistant Director Deborah Seid Howes. The program at John Hopkins revolves strongly around museums and technology. I'm hoping to possibly work with them on a GLAM related project in the future, or even doing some work with students about the wonders of Wiki.

I also spent my evening getting to know Cory Bernat, a food historian at the National Museum of American History's Food and Wine History Team. She created this super cool exhibition of war-era food posters from the National Agricultural Library, which was on site at the USDA and is now online. And wrapped up my evening with Erik van Tuijn, the Web & Media Coordinator at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag at The Hague, and Jasper Visser, the Project Manager of New Technology & Media at the National Historical Museum. Jasper presented on vending machines being used as cheap and quirky ways for visitor interaction and shopping. Let's just say these two are my favorite Dutchmen next to the Flying Dutchman.

Time to get back to work..lots of exciting announcements coming soon. I will be in Boston this weekend, New York in May, and speaking at the Indigenous Peoples & Museums conference in June. See you soon...