Donors  Institute of Museum and Library Services
MuseumOps Team Member Rich Cherry
Key Partners Christina DePaolo
Grant Award   $675,072.00
Matched by Legler Benbough Foundation
Location Balboa Park, San Diego CA
Completion 2012


  • Category: .................. digital innovation leadership operations technology
  • Many leaders can 'get to the (actionable) point' sooner or later, but Rich does this so quickly that he can seem almost to 'begin at the point.' This is evident in his remarkable accomplishments at the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, which he has led quickly--stunningly quickly--from its recent founding to its current position as an exemplar of cross-institutional digital collaboration. ―Rob Lancefield, Museum Content, Information, and Technology

First conceived in late 2010, The Balboa Park Commons is a digital repository to display, share, and make sense of thousands of materials from San Diego’s museums, archives, and libraries. Originally developed with local educators in mind, the site offers tools for downloading classroom materials as well as creating sharable mini-collections.

Former Director of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, Rich Cherry (along with Christina DePaolo, Christopher Borkoeski, and Perian Sully), recognized that although the Balboa Park museum’s collections were vast and culturally significant, very little of it was available online. In order to help the collections reach a larger audience, the team at BPOC developed a model to help members to quickly digitize, standardize, and migrate their data.

Once a plan was in place, the BPOC received a generous 2-year Institute Of Museum and Library Services Leadership grant and allowed the team to begin work on the user experience driven design process and the organization of museum content into a central repository. Partnering with Seso, a Los Angeles based interactive media firm, the project took into consideration the the wealth of undocumented stories associated with museum collections and sought bring those stories and the objects, into the digital world for a more “in-person” feel.

This “user experience” design included crafting tools to easily  create, download, and share information including;

  • The capability to browse the collections by featured works, themes, user sets, objects and institutions.

  • The capability to experience the collections via different views such as stream, grid and list, with placeholders for “play” and “create” that could be added on to engage visitors in the collection through game play.

  • Stream view where collections objects “stream” by the user to show the breadth and diversity of the collections. A user can pause the stream or stop the stream by selecting an object.

  • A filter ability to add filters manually to the website’s views.

  • Search – a traditional search box and advance search functionality.

  • An Info & Set module which provides all the metadata information on an object, related information, and also allows you to create custom sets of collection objects.

  • Hover controls which allows a user to download, print, save and tag objects.

  • Story Sets which allows the user to add images and their own text, as well as digital media content from social networking sites to a custom set of collection objects.

  • User profile capabilities to create unique login information or use logins from social networking (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.); including design of a personal avatar that could be assigned to each user.

  • Media types such as layout for images, text, video, audio and a book reader.

This effort not only increased access and visibility for the membership organizations, but by collaborating, building off of and adding to pre-existing resources, BPOC made this ambitious project cost effective and easier to implement in a short period of time.