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HistoryWired

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Question: Which of the Smithsonian Institution's buildings houses the largest number of artifacts?

Answer: The warehouse.

Actually, it's a safe assumption that the Smithsonian makes use of more than one warehouse, but whatever the number, the fact is that like most major museums, the vast majority of the Smithsonian's collections (95% by its own estimate) is in storage and completely inaccessible to the public. It's not that surprising when you consider the open-space-to-exhibit-space ratio that exists in most museums, but it does raise the question of just what else is filed away on those warehouse shelves. HistoryWired: A few of our favorite things brings the museum concept of 'visible storage' to the Web - sharing a collection of 450 of the Smithsonian's seldom-seen objects, and using an interface that you may have never seen at all.

Featuring artifacts from the National Museum of American History, and selected by curators throughout the museum, HistoryWired is free of the thematic restrictions of most public exhibits, and uses that freedom to offer a truly eclectic collection. Examples include the first Apple computer, the world's most expensive five-cent coin, Kermit the Frog, the first Technicolor camera, and a 19th century used chewing gum container. The varied nature of the selection not only ensures that you won't get bored during your visit, it also increases the chances of revealing something you never knew. (Personally, I'd never heard of a Solar Compass, and had no idea that the first 'blue jeans' were brown.)

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