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Project Siena

Bringing the Smithsonian Experience Home


A few weeks ago I was thinking about some of the wonderful places I’ve seen briefly but never revisited. It struck me that with widely available Internet connectivity,many of the places I journeyed to physically when I was younger might  be experiences that could be reimagined, at least partially, via the power of the Internet. I’ve always been a space buff (which was the incentive to build my two recently release NASA related apps) and I’ve also had a lifelong fascination with Archaeology and Natural History, the Oceans, and just about anything historically related to the world we live in. In my opinion, the collections housed by the Smithsonian Institute and its diverse programs was a natural choice for a Windows 8.1 app. Nothing can replace an in person visit to all the Smithsonian venues (time consuming for sure and travel/expense involved).

The various Smithsonian web sites offer more details and information, but again, there are multiple sites and entrances to all of this superb content. I envisioned a hub based experience with galleries for home users that captured a small part of the experience for home users and the result is my newest app, ‘Smithsonian at Home’. Ten galleries are included which will update as the Smithsonian adds and changes content.

From the Home screen main menu, ten galleries are available, the Smithsonian Photo of the Day Gallery, Smithsonian Travel Magazine, SmartNews on Technology and Space, SmartNews on Science, Latest News, Smithsonian Exhibitions, Wildlife, SmartNews History & Archaeology, SmartNews Arts & Culture, and the current Smithsonian Photo Contest. Select any tile from the Home screen to visit a gallery. All galleries are scrollable via touch or a mouse.

home screen

Galleries will show an image, caption, date added, and if available, brief description. Beneath each gallery item you will find a link to the original content on the web hosted at one of the Smithsonian web sites. Here are some screen shots of a few of the galleries:

Photo of the Day

photo of the day

Latest News

latest articles

SmartNews History & Archaeology

smartnews history and archaeology

Please download at and let me know on Twitter @barbbowman if you like it!

My Space Images from NASA is REALLY Complete


Thanks to everyone who provided feedback. I’ve done a couple of iterations and the feature complete version of Space Images from NASA is now available. The version number (Charms, Settings, About from inside the app) will display V1.1.0.5. If you have an older version, you can manually check for updates in the Windows Store. There will be another update soon but it is cosmetic only.

New in this version:

The Home screen for the app now includes the content from “On the Station” –
the latest news from the International Space Station in a gallery (both text and

NASA Astronomy Images and Space Images from NASA’ JPL are pulled via a behind
the scenes Bing search and no description/caption is available, however, you now
can display the source image in Modern IE by tapping or clicking an individual
image in the Gallery. The browser will launch and fetch the image (some of these
are quite large and will not appear instantaneously).

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