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Best of Both Worlds

Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age

By G. Wayne Clough, Secretary

A new e–book exploring our digital journey.

The Smithsonian—the world’s largest museum and research complex, with collections numbering in excess of 137 million objects and specimens—has long experimented on the digital frontier.

In his book, “Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age,” G. Wayne Clough, the Smithsonian’s 12th Secretary, surveys the efforts of many world-class institutions, including his own, to use technology to open their collections and programs to the world.

Secretary Clough’s thoughtful perspective as a museum leader, educator, and enthusiast provides invaluable insight into how digital technologies will radically alter our existing institutions, make access to their embedded knowledge widely available, and enable learning and research anytime, anywhere.

Download the entire e–book for free (PDF). »

Also available for free on iTunes U, Kindle, and Nook.

Best of Both World cover

“Best of Both Worlds” Video Introduction

Secretary Wayne Clough explores the Smithsonian’s digital journey.


Seriously Amazing mobile website

“All our museums offer applications for smartphones and tablets to assist the visitor in choosing exhibitions and learning about them. The apps also allow our visitors to leave their impressions of their visits.”


3D scan of bee and orchid

“–in the not-too-distant future we are likely to be able to pull up holograms in our homes of museum objects that have been rendered in three-dimensional digital image files. Already the Smithsonian is producing such files, which can be used with 3-D printers to allow objects from museums to be copied at schools and homes.”


Visitor with mobile device

“The use of digital technology has to be focused on education and learning, some of which should be structured and purpose driven, and some of which should be open-ended and curiosity-driven.”


Echoes of the Past: Digital Cave

“An unappreciated aspect of partnerships and collaboratives is the possibility they offer for digital curation that can lead both to digital exhibitions and to more powerful physicalexhibitions.”