Smithsonian Opens API Access to Design Museum Collection

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has released an API to grant developers programmatic access to its collection. Developers within the Smithsonian and third-party developers alike can utilize API access to collect data for a number of purposes. For instance, the museum's Immersion Room projects archived wallpaper patterns onto the walls after pulling data through the API. The use cases for third-party access include apps for education and design firms.

Last month, Cooper Hewitt reopened its doors after a three-year renovation. The API fits well within the museum's fresh start and its position as one of the world's most diverse and comprehensive design collections. The API allows Cooper Hewitt to digitally display its entire collection; the floor space doesn't allow for such presentation. The museum maintains more than 200,000 objects, while the floor space allows for the display of only around 700 objects.

Cooper Hewitt describes the API as "REST-ish," and the response format is JSON. The API is built on the museum's collection site and has become the core of its digital experience. For more information regarding the API, visit the API docs and see the full list of API methods.

The Smithsonian has realized the benefits of an API strategy. Accordingly, Cooper Hewitt becomes one of many Smithsonian museums to publish an API. The digital experience continues to evolve as an attractive benefit to museum goers. Third-party access to collection data allows others to enjoy and interact with a collection without physically traveling to the museum. APIs will continue to drive a new museum experience and preserve the historical value for which museums were initially built.

Be sure to read the next Museums article: Daily API RoundUp: Pebble, Google App Engine and more