At the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, in a room designed in the 19th century to house William Corcoran’s prized sculpture Greek Slave by Hiram Powers, stands a replica.
The sculpture is not a copy by Powers, which he did frequently, using the technology of his time, but rather a full-scale, polymer printout made using 3D data captured by the Smithsonian. And that data is available freely online for all who want to print their own.
This adaptation of our digital information will continue as our audiences grow and technology changes. The pace will quicken, too, beyond that first, life-changing but gradual evolution that commenced two decades ago.
And, if we move fast enough, opening all our collections and sharing all our work, our scientific investigations, political and cultural engagement and creativity will be available to and shared by everyone globally, reaching people where they are.
This idea is both audacious and thrilling.
I am exhilarated to be a part of the Smithsonian at such an incredible time, as we move out of our galleries and into the world to play a lead role in this ever-growing web of collaboration, producing unimagined new knowledge and experiences.
I hope you will join me.
Darren Milligan is the senior digital strategist, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access