8-1284: Mosaic of Roman soldiers from Anagni, Italy 9-16583: Miniature dance drama masks from Japan 6-21378b: Mummy portrait from Ptolemaic Egypt 3-28948a: Miniature violin from Valle de Mesquetal, Mexico 18-1601: Wall hanging from Malaysia 1-26550: Pomo feathered basket from Mendocino county, CA


HackTheHearst: Revealing the treasures of the Hearst Museum

On September 10, 1901, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the first female regent of the University of California, founded a museum that she envisioned as "a great educator" of the people of California and a cultural cornerstone of the University of California.

Fast-forward to today, one hundred and thirteen years later, and that museum, now known as the Hearst Museum, finds itself in a curious position. Despite being the largest anthropology museum west of the Mississippi, despite having one of the largest and most comprehensive cultural heritage collections in the world, and despite collections that are superlative in many ways, including having:

...we are essentially unknown beyond a small circle of researchers and educators. In part this is because we’ve never had sufficient public exhibition space in which to showcase our collections (the last time we surveyed, we had the smallest ratio of exhibit space to collection size of any anthropology museum in the United States), but we’ve also been held back because until quite recently, our collections documentation was primarily paper-based.

Over the last several years, we’ve focused attention on improving the digital documentation of our collections, an effort which has only accelerated over the past few years. We participated in the design and implementation of our new open source collections management system, CollectionSpace, which provides us with a robust and flexible platform upon which to build new technologies and services. One of these services is a Solr API to allow greater public access to our collections information.

The HackTheHearst hackathon will be an opportunity to dig into the collections data of the Hearst Museum and work with it directly. This culture of building, playing, and “hacking as a way of knowing” is a crucial part of the innovative spirit of the Digital Humanities. The idea that one can acquire a deeper understanding of tools, technologies, platforms, information, and systems through development is a principle that surrounds this event. Furthermore, this event seeks to bring members of our campus and local communities together to work collaboratively and creatively to give back to these communities and to interested people worldwide.

The goal of HackTheHearst is to develop a compelling application and/or user interface for the digital collections data that the Hearst Museum is making available through an API. Each team of participants will develop an app or web interface for working with the Hearst’s collections data (see contest requirements for details). The application or interface should address issues of humanistic scholarship, and show applicability and adaptability to a range of projects and scholarly fields. Suggested applications include:

Kickoff: Wednesday, September 10, 102 Kroeber Hall (UC Berkeley), 4:30–9:00 PM (see schedule).

Judging: Sunday, September 21, 102 Kroeber Hall (UC Berkeley). Judging will be in two rounds: an expo-style preliminary round from 10:00 AM–12:00 PM, and presentations from the 16 finalists from 12:45–3:45 PM. The winning entries will be announced from 4:15–4:30 PM, and the grand-prize-winning team will present their app to the public from 4:30–5:00.

Prizes: A selection of museum-themed experiences as well as tangible prizes will be offered (see prizes).

Dataset: The dataset being made available through the API consists of object-centric metadata for over 700,000 catalog records. This data includes basic identifying numbers and keys, plus a large set of additional fields that convey the 'what,' 'where,' 'who,' 'when,' and 'why' aspects of the objects. There are over 40 fields being made available, so these have been grouped below:

There will be a lot of interesting data to work with!

Please review the Contest Requirements and Guidelines, and then register for HackTheHearst!

Questions? Please contact the organizers.

HackTheHearst is a Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology initiative, sponsored by EMC, with support from the Office of the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Digital Humanities @ Berkeley, and Research IT at UC Berkeley.

Please consider supporting HackTheHearst with a tax-deductable donation, by becoming a financial sponsor, or via a gift in kind. Your support will help make HackTheHearst a success, both for the participants and for the users and communities who will benefit from the apps they create.

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