Web Tool Developed by SmartMoney.com Allows Visitors Access to Behind the Scenes Collections
Web site demo & display of selected objects. Aug. 15, 10 a.m., Information Age theater, National Museum of American History.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Behring Center will be opening its storage areas to virtual tours through its new Web site "HistoryWired: A Few of Our Favorite Things." Internet visitors will be able to access 450 objects from the museum's large and diverse collections that are not usually on public display through the Web site at http://historywired.si.edu.
Visitors to "HistoryWired" will explore a grid with squares of different sizes that represent featured objects. As the mouse pointer is moved across a square, a picture and short description of an object pops up. Clicking on a square will bring further information about the object. Among the items on the site are Stubby, a World War I canine hero; the space suit worn by David, the "Bubble Boy"; a signpost from M*A*S*H; a pennant from Martin Luther King's 1963 march on Washington; and salsa queen Celia Cruz's shoes.
"With fewer than 5 percent of our 3 million objects on display in our exhibition halls, this Web site will provide access to much more of our collections," said Spencer Crew, director of the National Museum of American History. "It will allow us to share fascinating stories and our research about these objects and lead the users to new discoveries about our collections."
The Web site was developed in collaboration with SmartMoney.com, a source for financial news, financial planning and market tools, using the "tree-mapping" technology that was used by investment and personal finance sites to map the stock market. Technology designers at SmartMoney.com adapted the interface and developed many new features for the Smithsonian at no cost as an in-kind donation.
"HistoryWired' shows that SmartMoney's mapping technology is a great tool to explore and discover rich sources of information," said Marc Frons, editor and chief technology officer at the company. "We are honored to be able to contribute to the Smithsonian's efforts to present its vast collection in new and interesting ways."
"HistoryWired' helps visitors explore the museum's collections according to their own interests," said Judy Gradwohl, Web director for the Museum of American History. "It also invites visitors to leave their mark on the program."
The site will be constantly reshaped by visitor input. As each object is explored, visitors will be asked to rate -- on a scale of 1 to 10 -- their interest in the display they are currently visiting. As an object's rating increases, its square will receive more space on the grid.
"HistoryWired" highlights a number of Smithsonian resources as context for National Museum of American History objects. The program incorporates portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, links to related Smithsonian magazine articles, excerpts from Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibition scripts, Smithsonian Institution Press books and audio clips from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
On Aug. 16, the museum plans to bring some of the top-rated objects out of storage. Curators will discuss the objects in a public program from Noon to 1 p.m. throughout the museum.
SmartMoney.com (www.smartmoney.com) is an investment news, tools and advice site operated by a staff of award-winning SmartMoney.com reporters, editors, software programmers and Web designers. It is known not only for SmartMoney-style credibility in its reporting, but also for its proprietary interactive tools, which have received much critical acclaim. SmartMoney.com recently won a 2001 National Magazine award for Best Interactive Design. SmartMoney.com licenses its award-winning, Java-based applications to many notable financial sites. SmartMoney is a joint venture of Hearst Communications Inc. and Dow Jones & Co. (NYSE: DJ; dj.com).
The National Museum of American History traces American heritage through exhibitions of social, cultural, scientific and technological history. Collections are displayed in exhibitions that interpret the American experience from Colonial times to the present. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site at http://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000.
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Melinda Machado, National Museum of American History
Regina Wong, SmartMoney.com
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