The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, leads at becoming “of the Wikipedia”

October 1, 2012 in Metadata by sarahstierch

When Seb Chan left the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, to become the Director of Digital and Emerging Media at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, the US GLAM-Wiki crew started to get antsy in anticipation. We were familiar with the work that he had been involved in at the Powerhouse – opening up the Powerhouse API, sharing content under open licenses, and other projects to expand the sharing of Australian heritage. Suffice to say, we’ve had high hopes.

Within a month of Seb’s new gig, the Cooper-Hewitt started a new blog, Cooper-Hewitt Labs, where the Digital & Emerging Media department shares projects. Within two months, the museum released its metadata under Creative Commons Zero; the first Smithsonian museum to do so, and possibly the first in the United States. A few months later, less than a year after Seb became Director, the Cooper-Hewitt’s alpha-version collection database now links out to Wikipedia and pulls Look ma, Wikipedia!Wikipedia content into the collection entry.

For example, you can check out all of the people (artists, designers, etc.) that are in the Cooper-Hewitt’s collection who have a Wikipedia article about them here.  When that Wikipedia content is improved, it’s updated on the Cooper-Hewitt’s collection page as soon as the team at Cooper-Hewitt Labs runs a bot (which they intend to run on a weekly basis.)

That’s right. In less than one year the Cooper-Hewitt has improved transparency, released a jackpot of metadata for the world to use with no-strings-attached, and has shown that they trust Wikipedia so much that they are willing to link out and pull in content from the world’s largest free encyclopedia.

We hope you find inspiration in this as well, just as the team at the Cooper-Hewitt found inspiration in the work and life of director Bill Moggridge and came to a realization that delightfully encompasses the way open data sharing should be moving:

We need to not just be ‘on the web’ but we need to be ‘of the web,’

…a very zen-like way to also embrace being “of the Wikipedia,” as well. And to those of you at the Lab—thank you for trusting us.