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Browse 20,000+ Photos from 7 San Diego Museums on Balboa Park Commons

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About a month ago, we shared the news that the George Eastman House had become the first photo museum to join the Google Art Project — essentially making their archive of over 400,000 photos and negatives available for your browsing pleasure online.

Along those same lines, another collection of over 20,000 “rare and significant materials” is being brought to the World Wide Web. Launched earlier today, the Balboa Park Commons is an online archive that brings together over 20,000 digitized materials from seven different San Diego museums.

Here’s an introduction to the project and how to use it:

As you can see, the Commons is an extremely easy-to-use tool for digging through this large archive of photos and other materials.

Collected from The Mingei International Museum, The Museum of Photographic Arts, The San Diego Air & Space Museum, The San Diego Museum of Man, The San Diego Natural History Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, and The Timken Museum of Art, many of these photos aren’t even on display. This gives online visitors the unique opportunity to see not only what’s on the museums’ showroom floors, but in their vaults as well.


The entire archive is easily searched and/or browsed by either Museum, Featured Sets or User Sets — the last of which are downloadable, sharable 12-image sets curated by visitors to the site.

The current Commons is still considered a Beta, and so the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BOCP) — the guys who have been working on this since 2010 — will be looking for your feedback as they continue to improve the site over the coming months. The BOCP is also hoping to add more San Diego-based cultural institutions to their roster over time, so keep an eye out for more collections.

To learn more about the project, browse current selection, or create some photo sets of your own, head over to the Balboa Park Commons by clicking here.

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