Mapping Space, Time and the Collection at SFO Museum


Thursday, April 04, 2019: 11:00am - 12:30pm - Back Bay AB: Papers: How do we connect (with) collections?

Aaron Cope, SFO Museum, USA

Published paper: Mapping Space, Time, and the Collection at SFO Museum

This presentation will discuss work modeling and marrying the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Museum collection and the airport itself, with the Who’s On First (WOF) gazetteer of geographic places, producing an openly licensed data set native to the web and existing geographic information systems (GIS), that we are using this data to build and power our own online efforts.

This paper and presentation will discuss the motivations behind the project, why our approach is necessary and beneficial in the historical context of digital initiatives in the museum sector, the lessons learned so far, and how we see this work as the core scaffolding for the museum’s digital efforts going forward.

Note: At the time of writing this proposal SFO Museum is about to publish exhibitions data alongside its existing open data-sets (architecture and public art) but that work will not be completed before the submission deadline. We expect the release to be announced early to mid-October on the SFO Museum weblog:


* "Who's On First at SFO Museum" – Aaron Straup Cope, published August 2018 (

* "Old maps (and old map tiles) at SFO Museum" – Aaron Straup Cope, published August 2018 (

* "maîtres chez nous" – Aaron Straup Cope, a presentation discussing the motivations and first principles of the Who's On First project, delivered at the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) conference in 2017 ( and

* "Let's Move All the Museums Out to the Airport (or, at Least Just the Smithsonian)" – Aaron Straup Cope, a presentation delivered at the Museum Computer Network Conference 2015 (

* The Who's On First project and weblog – (

* "Who’s on First at Stanford" – published May 2018 (

* "three open data projects: openstreetmap, openaddresses, and who’s on first" – Michal Migurski, published May 2017 (

* "Framing the Museum GitHub Repository" – L. Kelly Fitzpatrick, published October 2017 (

"Shared Practices in Museum Open Collections Data" – L. Kelly Fitzpatrick, published February 2017 (

* "The API at the center of the museum" – Seb Chan, published November 2014 (

* "Collection Data for Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum" – (

* "Cooper Hewitt API methods for museum locations" – ( and #cooperhewitt.objects.locations.sites and #cooperhewitt.objects.locations.spots)

* "Museum Universe Data File" – Institute of Museum and Library Services (

* "Mapping Cultural Assets with the Museum Universe Data File" – Morgan Robinson, January published 2016 (

* "A Gazetteer for the Library of Congress" – Schuyler Erle, presented at the OpenStreetMap US 2016 conference (

* "NYC Space/Time Directory" – New York Public Library 2015-2017 (

* "NYC Chronology of Place" – source code for now-defunct NYPL gazetteer, circa 2015 (

* "NYPL Labs: Hacking the Library" – Ben Vershbow, Journal of Library Administration circa 2013 (

* "Pleiades: A Community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places" – Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University (

* "Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names" – Getty Institute (

* "Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Released as Linked Open Data" – James Cuno, published August 2014 (

* "The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) as GeoJSON." – Experimental work to make TGN data more developer friendly, circa 2015 (

* "Manifest Destiny" – tells the story of the United States in 141 maps from the Declaration of Independence to the present ( and

* "The Interpretation of Bias (and the Bias of Interpretation)" – Aaron Straup Cope, Museums and the Web 2009" (

* "The Realities of Installing iBeacon to Scale" – Shelley Bernstein, published February 2015 (blogosphere/2015/02/04/the-realities-of-installing-ibeacon-to-scale/)

* "Location, location, location! The proliferation of indoor positioning and what it means and doesn’t mean for museums." Matthew Tarr, MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015.(

* "be the diorama you want to take a selfie with" – Aaron Straup Cope, opening keynote for the Conference on Mobile Position Awareness Systems and Solutions (COMPASS) delivered October 2018 (