Early in the digitization movement, few institutions of Cultural Heritage could digitize more than a menial fraction of their collection per year. Operating at the slow pace of multi-shot or scanning systems, the completion of digitization seemed more of a fanciful concept than an attainable goal. With the advent of rapid capture solutions built around high-resolution single-shot digital backs and high-speed workflow software like Capture One Cultural Heritage Edition, this pace has quickened by orders of magnitude.
Today’s modern systems and the following of preservation-grade industry standards ensure that the day will come, sooner rather than later, that most institutions have the majority or entirety of their collections online. At that point, the publicity and interest surrounding yet another institution reaching such a milestone will be quite low. For now, however, there is a distinct first-mover advantage for those institutions completing digitization in the next few years. Thus, it is crucial that institutions that wish to use digitization as a market differentiator adopt a digitization program that includes sufficient quality to maintain a consistent and professional brand, with sufficient planning and equipment to achieve the digitization goals in a timely fashion.
“We’ve reached an important milestone at the Freer |Sackler, an effort we’re calling Digital Zero. As of this writing, we’ve become the first Smithsonian museum to digitize their collections. This is a great opportunity for scholars and researchers as well as our everyday virtual visitors to have 24/7 access to our works of art.
What exactly is Digital Zero? For the Freer|Sackler, it means that we’ve photographed and uploaded our entire collection into a digital asset management system — more than 40,000 objects and almost twice as many images, from Whistler’s Peacock Room to the tiniest unnamed ceramic sherd. We have examined the rights information on every object and marked them appropriately. We have reviewed records, both complete and incomplete, and deemed them acceptable to make public.”
– Courtney O’Callaghan, Chief Digital Officer, Freer|Sackler, The Smithsonian Institution