San Diego Air & Space Museum Receives Two Significant Grants to Continue Innovative Digitization Efforts

It will use $124,500 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and $25,000 from Goodrich Aerostructures to increase online collection visibility over the next two years.


San Diego, CA – August 7, 2012 – The San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Library & Archives recently received two significant grants which will continue to dramatically improve online access to its extensive collection.  The Museum, which houses the third largest collection of aviation-related research material in the United States, will use $124,500 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and $25,000 from Goodrich Aerostructures to increase online collection visibility over the next two years.

In today's high-tech information environment, the use of advanced technology enables rare and unique materials to transcend their physical boundaries. Photographs, films, and rare books are fragile, and the deterioration process is accelerated through handling, exposure to light, and climate fluctuations. Through the Museum’s digitization efforts, this process can be mitigated so that archival material is not lost. Although digitization is expensive and time-consuming, it provides easy and comprehensive access for all researchers, while also preventing damage from handling.

The initial digitization project originated two years ago with the help of the Legler Benbough Foundation. With their funding, the Museum has uploaded over 135,000 digitized images to Flickr.com, as well as over 400 rare films to YouTube. The Museum’s Flickr page has received over seven million views in just over two years. In addition to increasing collection visibility, the Flickr platform has both allowed and encouraged the online community to identify images and to add information to the catalog system. The Museum’s online image and film collection is thought to be the largest of its type in the world, and is growing, but it represents less than five percent of the Museum’s total collection. Both the IMLS and Goodrich Aerostructures grants will support the continuation of that effort, which the Museum has titled Great Explorations: Increasing Online Access.

With the dramatic rise of online social media activity, the Museum now has a new platform to reach a younger and wider audience, as well as providing an avenue to significantly expand the number of records available online. These internet resources allow the Museum to share its collection with both aviation enthusiasts and researchers around the world who would not otherwise know about this unique collection, let alone be able to visit the Museum.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California's official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and it was the first aero-themed Museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. Now on display, “How Things Fly” a special exhibition that examines the wonder of flight through four fun and interactive zones. The Museum is located at 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101. The Museum and gift store are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. 

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