Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Innovation in Action: The Henry Ford and Saganworks Partner on a Virtual Collections Experience

Once we complete our Sagan, it will seamlessly integrate artifacts, textual content, furnishings, and custom-created 3D artwork--something like this example we’ve been playing around with.

For nearly a decade, The Henry Ford has been adding items to our Digital Collections, which now contain over 95,000 digitized artifacts. For almost as long, we’ve been exploring creative ways to work with those world-renowned assets--from including our entire digitized collection on touch-screen kiosks in Driving America back in 2012 to linking tens of thousands of digital artifacts using curator- and AI-created connections in our latest exhibit, Intersection of Innovation.

Some of the best explorations of our digitized collections come through collaborations with partners who can take our content to new levels. Working with other organizations and companies to figure out how we can simultaneously highlight both their platforms and technologies and our own digital assets is a challenge in innovation. Today, we’re excited to tease one such partnership project that is coming soon: a new “Sagan,” created in collaboration with Saganworks.

This is what our Sagan looked like before we added any furnishings or artifacts to the space. Different collections will be highlighted in each “room” within the Sagan.

SaganWorksLogoSaganworks is an Ann Arbor, Michigan–based technology startup with a big goal--to bring multimedia into 3D space and change the way people interact with either their personal content or traditionally in-person spaces, such as museums and storefronts. Individuals can build a virtual room, otherwise known as a Sagan, capable of storing content in a wide variety of file formats, and virtually walk through their rooms like a gallery. With the combination of audio, visuals and a wide variety of customizations to choose from (such as furniture and room layout), individuals are able to experience their Sagans holistically, making Saganworks not just an alternative to in-person spaces, but a unique adventure.

This video shows a bit of our Sagan in progress, with collections images being added to the environment.

The way people learn has evolved--not just over the last few decades, but over the last few months, making the partnership between Saganworks and The Henry Ford a natural step towards the larger mission of innovating learning itself. Combining The Henry Ford’s vast array of knowledge assets and the virtual capabilities of Saganworks, people across the globe will be able to access lively and informative exhibits while not being limited by their location.

We are combining this partnership effort with another one. In the Spring of 2019, The Henry Ford launched the William Davidson Foundation Initiative for Entrepreneurship, an institution-wide initiative focused on providing resources and encouragement for the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow. Through this grant, we have been given the opportunity to examine (and digitize) some of our rich collections through an entrepreneurial lens, and have shared these stories on our website through blog posts, expert sets, and interviews with our Entrepreneurs in Residence.

Here’s an aerial view of our Sagan, as we played around with adding furnishings--some “off the shelf” within the Saganworks universe, and some that Saganworks designed especially for us--to the virtual space.

It is our goal to continue to strive for new and exciting ways to share these stories with the public, and through our partnership with Saganworks, we believe we can do just that. In utilizing Saganworks’ unique platform, we are building a 3D environment to highlight these entrepreneurial stories and collections, starting with those related to our collecting themes of Agriculture and the Environment, and Social Transformation.

In doing so, we are in the midst of our very own innovation journey, collaborating and staying curious with our partners at Saganworks while uncovering user experience needs, defining what the Sagan will contain and how it will look, and designing, optimizing, and implementing the actual Sagan itself.

We look forward to providing more information in coming weeks and months about this new digital offering--and more on the collaborative journey both partners have been making. Stay tuned for updates this summer as this Sagan gets closer to completion!

In the meantime, if you’d like to try building your own Sagan, create an account and use code "Innovation" for 30 days free of the Saganworks Individual Plan, and follow Saganworks on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

This blog post was written jointly by several members of the partnership team, including Samantha Johnson, Project Curator at The Henry Ford; Shanley Carlton, Customer Support at Saganworks; Casey Hyde, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Saganworks; and Ellice Engdahl, Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

2020s, Michigan, 21st century, technology, Saganworks, entrepreneurship, digital collections, by Shanley Carlton, by Samantha Johnson, by Ellice Engdahl, by Casey Hyde

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