The Smithsonian’s “Collections Blog”

Site name and description

  • Since it was given to Congress in 1829, the Smithsonian has become the world’s largest museum and research complex with 19 museums, the National Zoo and nine research facilities.
  • The “Collections Blog” rounds up the Smithsonian’s archivists, museum specialists and librarians to write about their new collections, current works in progress or whatever catches their eye.
  • It looks like the blog was launched fairly recently in 2010.

 Site URL

 Site type

  • Government

 Homepage screenshot










Design overview

  • The Design seems to be pretty basic, with the latest blog post taking up most of the layout. On the right is a search bar and a word cloud of links to popular search terms.
  • The blog doesn’t have a lot of graphics, but does a good job of featuring pictures of the subject matter being blogged about:











  • I’d say mostly adults, because the last few posts were about typically adult (18 and over) subjects like historical gardens, Ernst Herzfeld’s 1911 excavation of Samarra and faux vintage photography.
  • People that have an academic nature

 Business/Site Goals

  • It is their goal to deliver 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.
  • They also hope to encourage conversation, questions and comments.

 Social media integration

  • Although this blog does not overtly reference Facebook and Twitter, it does list all the other blogs of the Smithsonian on the right-hand side of its homepage.
  •  Beyond the homepage, the blog does reference a tutorial-video of using the Collections Search Center on YouTube in its “About” section:










  • Apparently, October is “American Archives Month,” which is meant to showcase the importance of the Smithsonian’s vast collections of archival and historical records and to highlight the many individual Smithsonian archival units responsible for maintaining these rich and complex documentary resources.
  • As part of this month, the Smithsonian is sponsoring a “31-Day blogathon” where “Archives throughout the Smithsonian Institution will be participating in a month-long Blogathon, with posts highlighting stories from the archives as well as challenges and issues facing archives.” Participating blogs include the following:
    • Archives of American Art blog
    • The Bigger Picture (Smithsonian Institution Archives)
    • Chandra X-Ray blog (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory)
    • Eye Level (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
    • Field Book Project blog (National Museum of Natural History & Smithsonian Institution Archives)
    • National Air and Space Museum blog
    • National Museum of the American Indian blog
    • Smithsonian Collections blog
    • Smithsonian Institution Libraries blog
  • In addition, the blog does encourage visitor comments and has mouse-over “sharing” link:










Technologies used

  • Google’s Blogger, because there is a “Create Blog and Sign In” button in the upper right-hand corner. Once clicked, it takes you to Blogger:










  Team members

  • Joanna Mullally, Ruba Hashem, Marina Ferrer Lopez

 Reviews or analyses of the site

  • I found several commentaries on blogs referencing posts from the Smithsonian Collection’s blog. They generally seem to be positive.
  • One commentary by an “an anthropologist with an unusual love for museum collections and an idealistic faith in the potential of digital museum catalogs as something that could give collections more life” said the blog was “quite refreshing” on August 2, 2011 (

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