This award is bestowed upon an individual Smithsonian employee or team of employees who excelled at utilizing digital tools to advance the Smithsonian mission of increasing and diffusing knowledge. Through singular acts or consistent activity; commitment to exploring, developing, and implementing innovative approaches; and willingness to collaborate and share innovations across the organization, they made an exceptional contribution to fulfilling one or more priority objectives for the digital enterprise.
In the past eight years, with two multi-million dollar grants from the Terra Foundation for American Art, Karen Weiss and Barbara Aikens have transformed the Archives of American Art for the 21st century, creating an unparalleled virtual repository for the study of the visual arts of the United States. Together they led a dedicated team to build an infrastructure that supports all stages of digitization, from selecting and cataloging to storing and preserving the digital assets following national standards. Their model system supports large-scale digitization of entire archival collections, offering more than 1.7 million digital files with the capacity to expand over the next five years, enabling researchers around the world to access the digital archives with aggregated metadata.
Their team effort to explore, develop, and implement innovative approaches has revolutionized research in the field of art history, providing free online access to a vast cross-section of the Archives’ unique resources, and set a new standard for excellence in the archival profession.
Barbara Aikens has served as chief of collections processing at the Archives of American Art since 1991. She is responsible for managing all archival processing, arrangement, and preservation, and the creation of web-accessible and fully searchable finding aids that substantially increase and enhance online access to the Archives’ holdings.
Karen Weiss is the information resources manager at the Archives of American Art, where she oversees the Archives’ digitization initiatives, collections’ cataloging and information systems, and the development of its website to support new modes of access and scholarship.