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The Smithsonian’s art collection will soon be available for digital viewing

The White House promised that it would open up government data last year, and it’s now expanding those plans in some intriguing directions. For one, it’s opening up the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s digitized collection; you’ll soon get to build apps and other tools using the institution’s artwork as a foundation. Even curators don’t have that much access right now, the administration says. Other open data efforts won’t be quite so pretty, but they should still prove helpful. The FDA will soon publish its full drug safety reports, which could lead to apps that warn you about risky medicine. 

Looking to visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum without actually going to the Smithsonian? You might soon be able to do so from the comfort of your own smartphone. On Friday, the White House announced in a blog post that the Smithsonian American Art Museum would soon open up its digitized collection to developers so they can build it into educational apps. According to the White House, “even museum curators do not have easily accessible information about their art collections. This information will soon be available to everyone.” According to the US Government’s Open Data Action Plan (PDF), the Museum will release information on works in the collection such as the artist or medium used, and will release images “without copyright or other restriction […] for non- commercial, educational use.” It plans to complete the process by December.

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