Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History

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Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History

Curating the Bay

California Historical Society is embracing 21st-century technology to celebrate the Year of the Bay in 2013, by offering its extensive collections to a crowdsourcing experiment in its gallery and at

In a year that is bringing the high-profile America's Cup yacht races to the Bay, the opening of a new Bay Bridge span, and the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Port of San Francisco, the California Historical Society is staging an experimental exhibition of many items from its collections not publicly exhibited before. Many of these artifacts -- photographs, paintings, and documents -- present historical mysteries still to be solved. The historical society is welcoming the public into this rich collection of materials to contribute their own stories, knowledge, photographs, and other sources to create a richer, more diverse history of the San Francisco Bay.

The exhibition takes risks by asking visitors to fill in the blanks rather than presenting them with a finished narrative. It opens up the process of curating — usually reserved for trained professionals — to the public both in the exhibition and online as part of, a dynamic crowdsourcing experiment with researchers at Stanford University and Historypin, an innovative global social technology partner.

This exhibition has been generously supported by our funding sponsors: S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Placer Partners, Port of San Francisco, and Wells Fargo. Exhibition partners include: Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University, EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park, Golden Gate Audubon, Heyday, Historypin, Literacy for Environmental Justice, Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. In-kind support is being provided by: The CBW Group, Hafner Vineyard, Herglotz Public Affairs, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Sherwin-Williams. Institutional support to CHS is provided from the Hearst Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, The James Irvine Foundation, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.