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Internet2 Signs Deal With Smithsonian to Connect Colleges to Digitized Artifacts

The Smithsonian Institution has signed a deal with Internet2 that could make it easier for colleges to connect with digital content in museums on the National Mall.

The new partnership, to be formally announced this morning at Internet2′s member meeting, will also bring high-speed Internet connections to some of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and a technology-demonstration area in the institution’s Arts and Industry Building, which is currently being renovated. Internet2 is a nonprofit group that provides superfast network connections to some 220 college and university members.

Some individual colleges have already traded digital content with the Smithsonian. But the new partnership will make it easier for other colleges to do so as well without having to negotiate separate agreements with the cultural institution.

Shelton Waggener, senior vice president of Internet2, said in an interview that the Smithsonian had many digital collections with files too large to stream over the traditional Internet. Colleges that work through Internet2 to take advantage of the partnership will be able to connect to those materials—including three-dimensional renderings of objects in the institution’s holdings—for use in classes or research projects, Mr. Waggener said.

In recent years, Internet2 has begun working to help negotiate bulk-software deals for its member colleges, serving as a broker between major software companies and colleges. The new partnership is the first move by the networking group to serve a similar role for digital content. Mr. Waggener said he expected more content deals in coming months.

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