150 Years of America’s Smithsonian
Earlier, we had Smithsonian’s America. Now we have 150 Years of America’s Smithsonian (Macmillan Digital USA).The subtitle of this one is Discovering, Imagining, Remembering. They should have added Yawning. This is a low-tech digital catalog that contains more than 300 objects from the collections of the various Smithsonian museums, each with a short text blurb and a photo. Some entries also have brief videos. Take a guided tour, or browse the incredibly broad topics (Discovering is generally science; Imagining is generally art; Remembering is generally history), use the search engine, explore a timeline, or take a guided tour. Unfortunately, that’s about it. The objects are interesting, but the descriptions are so brief that they read like advertisements for works in a gallery. The most substantive part of the program are the photos themselves, but they would work just as well in a book. The disc doesn’t load anything onto your hard drive, so it’s guaranteed to move at a crawl. The Smithsonian deserves better.
– November 1996