Smithsonian’s Asian art collection goes online - The Art Newspaper
"The Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art in Washington, DC, are due to release their entire collections online on 1 January 2015. More than 40,000 works, from ancient Chinese jades to 13th-century Syrian metalwork and 19th-century Korans, will be accessible through high-resolution images without copyright restrictions for non-commercial use. The vast majority—nearly 35,000 objects—have never been seen by the public. The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery are the first Smithsonian museums and the only Asian art museums to complete the labour-intensive process of digitising and releasing their entire collections online. The project, completed over the past several years, is 'driven in part by our director, in part by the Smithsonian’s digitisation efforts, and in part by President Obama’s push for open access of federal data', says a spokeswoman. The endeavour required 6,000 staff-hours in the past year alone and resulted in more than 10 terabytes of data. 'The depth of the data we’re releasing illuminates each object’s unique history, from its original creator to how it arrived at the Smithsonian,' says Courtney O’Callaghan, the director of digital media and technology at the Freer-Sackler. 'Now, a new generation can not only appreciate these works on their own terms, but remix this content in ways we have yet to imagine.' Some of the most popular works in the collection will be available for download as free desktop backgrounds for computers, smartphones and social media profiles. The Freer-Sackler’s project may be the first of many. In the autumn, the Smithsonian kicked off the public phase of an unprecedented campaign to raise $1.5bn for initiatives including the digitisation of its collections. Over the past three years, the network of museums, zoos and research centres quietly raised $1bn toward its goal."