The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Category: Smithsonian History
Being from Hawaii, I've had my fair share of mixed plate lunches. What is a mixed plate lunch you ask? A mixed plate lunch or just plate lunch is unique to Hawaii and finds it origins in Japense bento boxes. A plate lunch typically consists of two scoops of rice, macaroni salad and a main entree. As more immigrants came to Hawaii from other countries to work in the sugar and pineapple plantations, they brought with them their culinary cultures. As a result plate lunches started to include Filippino, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Korea, Okinawan, and Hawaiian foods.
On May 23, 1999 the exhibition, From Bentō to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai’i, opened in the Arts and Industries Building. The traveling exhibition organized by the Japanese American National Museum featured artifacts, family photographs, and personal accounts that explored the role of Japanese-Americans in a wide range of areas and their adaptation to life in Hawaii. As part of the Smithsonian's exhibition, the National Museum of American History lent the Olomana, a 9-ton, six-wheel steam locomotive that was purchased in 1883 by the Waimanalo Sugar Co. to use on its 3-foot-gauge railroad located near the ocean on the northeast side of Oahu.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the Smithsonian has a number of events, programs, and resources that tell the stories of the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who came to the United States and influenced its history and culture.
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month programs at the Smithsonian for 2015
- Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
- Asian American and Pacific American related materials and content at the Smithsonian
- Accession 06-06: Office of Special Events and Protocol, Event Files, 1998-2001, Smithsonian Institution Archives
"Smithsonian Enters Cyberspace with Information-Packed World-Wide Web Home Page" announced the press release.
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the Smithsonian's first "internet 'web' site" on May 8, 1995. The web site included more than 1,500 pages and overviews of the site were available in Spanish, German, and French. In addition to text and graphics, the pages also included images, audio, and video. Peter House, the National Science Foundation staff member who was detailed to the Smithsonian for the technical development of the website, considered the site to be very large at the time.
The Smithsonian Home Page was designed to allow users to visit the Smithsonian in much the same way as they would in person. Users can begin by viewing general information pages, just as many visitors begin with the information center in the Castle, or they can go directly to page for an individual museum. Many of the Smithsonian's museums and other facilities established home pages at the same time.
A sneak preview of "Ocean Planet On-Line" was available several weeks ahead of the Smithsonian Home Page. It was demonstrated during the press preview of the "Ocean Planet" exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, held April 20, 1995. The website was a joint project of the Smithsonian's Environmental Awareness Program and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Gene Feldman, an oceanographer at the Goddard Space Flight Center and creator of the online exhibition, described the site as "one of the most comprehensive and advanced exhibitions available through the Internet via the World Wide Web." He believed it had "capabilities that will amaze even the tekkies." Although hosted on a NASA server, "Ocean Planet On-Line" was considered to be a component of the larger Smithsonian website. It still exists today in close to its original form.
The Smithsonian Home Page included multimedia messages from the Secretary, general information, frequently asked questions (known as "Encyclopedia Smithsonian"), press releases, museum highlights, online exhibitions, virtual museum tours, a staff directory, and the "electronic Shopping Mall." The "Perspectives" section of the site allowed users to search for specific topics across the entire website. Many of these features still exist, in an updated form, in the current Smithsonian website.
In the first 24 hours after the home page was launched, it received approximately 100,000 hits, some as far away as Japan. By May 17, 9 days after the launch, there had been over 600,000 hits.
Secretary Heyman noted that "James Smithson's goal of the 'increase and diffusion of knowledge' has been reborn for a new century."
According to House, "The Smithsonian has been waiting 150 years for the Internet. What we do here is perfect for it."
- Tracking Down the Elusive 'Treasure House of Learning', The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 98-094 - Office of the Secretary, Smithsonian Website Records, 1995, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 01-081 - Smithsonian Institution, Office of Public Affairs, The Torch, 1994-1999, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 12-545 - National Museum of Natural History, Office of Public Affairs, Press Releases, 1992-2002, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Historic Smithsonian Home Pages on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and on Archive-It
- 1 of 49
- next ›