National Air and Space Museum 2015 Annual Report

Digital Outreach and Engagement

In 2015, digital initiatives focused on sharing compelling stories of aviation and spaceflight and experimenting with new ways to engage people beyond Museum walls.

3D Scan of Discovery
A 3D Program Officer of the Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office works on the 3D scan of Space Shuttle Discovery.
  • The Outside the Spacecraft exhibition presented the opportunity to engage audiences everywhere on what it’s like to walk in space. Its website was honored with an American Alliance of Museums 2015 Bronze MUSE award. Learn more in the Exhibitions section.
  • The Museum continued to experiment with new ways to engage visitors in conversation and share the Museum’s behind-the-scenes activities with the public. As the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall renovation progressed, the Museum shared unique views of iconic artifacts as they were moved, answered questions online, and shared stories about ongoing research and conservation work.
  • The Museum experimented with live, real-time video shared via Twitter using a new application called Periscope. Staff and special guests shared events as they happened and answered questions in real-time. Examples included expert talks about artifacts on the floor during the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall renovation, the VE Day flyover, aircraft arriving and departing the Innovations and Flight family day, and a curator-narrated tour of the Martin Marauder B-26 Flak Bait from the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar.
  • Here are some statistics and other highlights from digital engagement efforts in 2015:
    • Website visitation increased by 31% in 2015 to 3.5 million users.
    • Readership and comments on stories shared through the Museum’s blog more than doubled, and our social media audience grew by 66%.
    • The Museum's regularly hosted "Social" events in 2015 reached over 6.7 million people and posts related to the events were viewed over 60.3 million times. Social events invite fans and followers of our social media channels to have a look behind the scenes and meet our experts. Participants share their experiences via social media and online audiences join the conversation using a specific hashtag. More about Socials.
    • In 2015, Museum experts participated in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit about the upcoming conservation, digitization and display of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit. During this session, curator Cathleen Lewis and conservator Lisa Young received over 600 comments and questions.
    • Stories about the continuing conservation and restoration work on the Star Trek starship Enterprise studio model were among the most popular content on our blog in 2015. A request to the public for historic photos of the model was successful in acquiring the images needed to guide conservators in their work. Other popular stories included the Armstrong Purse and a fun post about Wonder Woman’s invisible aircraft on display for April Fool’s Day.