Title:Building an Online Commons for the Park
Authors:Christina DePaolo, Erick Kendrick, Christopher Borkowski, Abe Serrano
Publication:MW2012: Museums and the Web 2012

The Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) is currently building the Balboa Park Commons, a site that will bring together digitized collections content from 26 museums and cultural institutions into a rich online resource at Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre park in the heart of the city of San Diego and its 85 cultural and recreational organizations attract more than 10 million visitors per year.  The park museums participating in the Commons project include The San Diego Museum of Art, The San Diego Air and Space Museum, The San Diego Natural History Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego History Center, to name just a few.

The key goals of the Commons project are to 1.) increase the visibility of the museums' content by providing the public with unprecedented access to rare and unique collections from the Balboa Park museums 2.) design a tool-set that meets the needs of San Diego educators and students, and 3.) attract new, more diverse audiences by including social software tools that allow visitors to create their own stories and discover interesting and fun connections across the collections.

In this mini-workshop, we will highlight the technical and non-technical aspects of developing an online digital commons that engages audiences in the creative use of cultural heritage materials.  The workshop will review the process of designing a user-centered website based on community workshops and an extensive wireframe process; development of tool sets based on a PHP platform, using a digital asset management system and APIs; and the approach and issues related to creating a new model for getting large data-sets and aggregated collection content online. With each aspect of the project, we'll discuss how we're using funding and available museum resources in cost-efficient ways.

This mini-workshop is designed for museum professionals interested in large-scale online collection projects, new models for collaboration and new models for collection access and engagement.