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I. Strategy in Context

“For the Smithsonian to remain a vital institution at this
important time in our history, we need to fully engage younger generations
with our collections and our knowledge. We need to use new digital
technologies to their fullest potential so that we can fulfill the Smithsonian's
19th-century mission—‘the increase and diffusion of knowledge’— in a
thoroughly 21st-century way for the benefit of all Americans and people
around the globe.”

Secretary G. Wayne Clough, January 2009

This Web and New Media Strategy is part of a comprehensive Institution-wide strategic planning initiative currently underway at the Smithsonian. The strategic recommendations included in this report are closely aligned with the Institution’s overall direction and efforts to consider the issues of digitization and revenue generation. This strategy also builds on the exploration and enthusiasm of the Smithsonian 2.0 event held January 23 and 24, 2009.

This Web and New Media Strategy began with a series of facilitated workshops with Smithsonian stakeholders. The workshops focused on education, business models, technology and operations, curation and research, and the perspective of directors. Two hundred and ninety-four Smithsonian stakeholders from 55 museums, research centers and business units participated in one or more workshops.

Each of the workshops and planning sessions were documented by a real-time transcription of the proceedings posted to a wiki established for this purpose ( The main intent of the workshops was to move relevant information to the wiki where it could be openly evaluated, sifted, weighed, and considered by all. The wiki was the platform on which this strategy was sketched, discussed, debated, refined and finalized, all within the view of those who care most about the Smithsonian. Finally, the strategy was reviewed by the Smithsonian Web and New Media Steering Committee.

This document describes a transformational change for the Smithsonian, which will have impact on the Institution’s culture, operations, allocation of resources, talent recruitment, and priorities. This strategy can only become operational with adequate resources, and will require the Smithsonian to rethink the ways in which it generates revenues and prioritizes how resources are allocated to programs. This strategy is bold but achievable—it can be successfully implemented if the Institution begins now to actively prepare itself and to accept that change will be achieved incrementally.

The Smithsonian aspires to a bold vision. The world is changing at an ever-accelerating rate and this strategy acknowledges that the Smithsonian has a chance now to synchronize its mission with new tools for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

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