It's the best collection of baseball memorabilia in the world but unless you make a pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York or catch a touring exhibit, you can't see it.
That's about to change.
EMC Corporation will sponsor a digitization project to make the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's collection available online.
The digitization initiative will protect, preserve and make accessible many of the museum’s nearly 500,000 photographs, more than 12,000 hours of recorded audio and video, three million documents and nearly 40,000 three-dimensional artifacts for future generations. This project is slated to launch later in 2010 and will make many of these items accessible to audiences over the next three years.
"Absolutely, our goal is digitize and make available as much of our
collections as possible, in a large-scale project to reflect the breadth
and depth of our physical collections here in Cooperstown," Brad Horne, Senior Director of Communications and Education told Sports Collectors Daily via email. "By first archiving these treasures digitally, we'll ensure their eternal preservation, and then, in making them available to audiences around the world, we'll share important moments of baseball history with those who are unable to visit us in Cooperstown."
Items like Ted Williams' final home run bat and a 1912 World Series ticket stub will be available to web visitors in the form of high resolution images.
Exactly when you might be able to sit in your pajamas and 'visit' the collection is hard to say. However, it's safe to assume both sides are anxious to make at least some of the items available to fans.
"Our timetable is undefined at this point," said Horne. "A cornerstone in the relationship is the consultation phase with EMC, which is slated to
begin this fall. Any speculation on when these items will be available
is a bit premature."
One benefit to fans and collectors of the EMC sponsorship will be the opportunity to see some of the items that are either too fragile or too numerous to display in the physical confines of the museum. Less than 1/5 of the Hall's entire collection is on display at any one time.
Baseball card collectors should relish the chance to one day take in the Hall's stash of over 140,000 cards, many of which are among the hobby's most hard to find.
In addition to the digitizing process that will be undertaken by members of its staff, EMC will also provide additional support for the Hall's nationally-recognized, baseball-themed Education Field Trip curriculum that it delivers to schools nationwide through live, point-to-point, videoconference programs.
Through interactive, one-hour units, trained teachers and guest educators introduce students to a wide range of topics from the Museum’s 16 areas of learning emphasis. Curriculum units currently include mathematics, science, American history, leadership, labor history, fine arts, character education, special abilities, cultural diversity, communications arts, economics, civil rights, pop culture, geography, industrial technology and women’s history.
“Schools continue to grapple with challenges in funding and testing,” said Hall president Jeff Idelson. “Our baseball-themed curriculum and videoconferencing has offered schools and students a complementary educational experience that can help address these challenges, and the program continues to gain in popularity each school year. With EMC’s help, we’re hoping to further drive home this curriculum for students.”
“Strengthening education is the top priority of EMC’s social investment strategy. We encourage and support innovative educational experiences like the Hall of Fame’s Field Trip Series,” said Bill Teuber, EMC’s Vice Chairman. “In fact, we applaud the Hall of Fame’s creativity and initiative and look forward to helping them extend the reach of this curriculum to schools throughout the U.S. and Canada.”