AHA Today

Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center

Elisabeth Grant | Nov 9, 2010

Smithsonian Institution Collections Search CenterThe Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center allows visitors to “ search over 5.4 million records with 460,000 images, video and sound files, electronic journals and other resources from the Smithsonian’s museums, archives & libraries.” Not only does the site offer access to a massive number of resources, it also presents them in a clean and easy-to-use interface. It’s no wonder it was the winner of the “Best Re-Purposing of Descriptive Data” category in the ArchivesNext Best Archives on the Web awards contest this past summer. Today, we take a closer look at what this site has to offer.

When you land on the home page of the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center a search box sits front and center. While it’s easy to dive in by typing in a keyword and doing a simple search, the collections center also offers you a number of other ways to find what you’re looking for:

  • Subsets – Click through types (like books, sculptures, and exhibitions),  topics (mammals, history, artists, and more), taxonomy (chordate, arthropoda, rhodophyta, etc. ), place (countries, states, regions, and more), name (DC Flora, or African Mammal Project for example), culture (Prehistoric, Hopi, Arikara, and others), language (from Arabic to Zuni), and datasource (American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, and on).
  • About – The About section of the site is very helpful, with information and links to museum collections, archives collections, research databases, libraries databases, an image gallery, and information on the technology that runs the site.
  • Blog – Explore and learn more about the Smithsonian’s holdings through the Smithsonian’s Collections Blog, which aims to “bring our readers collection highlights, unveil hidden collections as they become online, and relate to current events with historical artifacts, art work and research materials from the past.”
  • Search History – the site also tracks your search history, so you can go back and review what you’ve searched for previously.

Whether you’re researching to complete academic scholarship, or just poking around as a casual history enthusiast, this site has a lot to offer and for you to discover.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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