Smithsonian building online treasure trove

In an effort to "move art from the wall to the Web," the Smithsonian Institution has begun capturing digital images of all its artifacts and photography collections for display on the Internet.

The White House Office of Science and Technology has mandated that artifacts and images at all Smithsonian museums, the Library of Congress and the National Archives be available for viewing via the Internet by 2002, according to the Smithsonian's senior information and technology advisor Peter House.

In February, the National Museum of American History will display a collection of more than 100,000 images through the Smithsonian's World Wide Web site (www.si.edu), said David Allison, chairman of the Division of Information Technology and Society at the National Museum of American History.

"This will allow the American public—as well as people from around the world—to look at our entire collection instead of only the 1 [percent] to 2 percent on display at the museum," Allison said.

The digitization of images also will enable quicker and easier information sharing among government agencies, such as the armed forces, the Library of Congress and NASA, House said.

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