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Wikipedians in the museum, and beyond

On Saturday, August 20 the Children's Museum hosted Wikipedians for our second Backstage Pass, which this time included three exciting events:
  • The Backstage Pass: A time when local Wikipedians can visit the museum and receive a behind the scenes tour of collections.
  • An Edit-a-Thon: An effort between museum curators and Wikipedians to create and improve Wikipedia articles related to one topic.
  • A Translate-a-Thon: Collaboration with Wikipedians who meet in another location (or country) and translate articles into other languages.
Wikipedians in Natural World Collection Storage
There have been Wikipedia Backstage Passes, Edit-a-Thons, and Translation efforts all over the world. But this is the first time that all three have been attempted at the same time. Here's how it went down:

Wikipedians traveled from all over the state to take part in the Backstage Pass, which took them behind the scenes into all areas of collections storage. These events are important for Wikipedians because they're able to take photographs of rarely seen objects. These photos are then uploaded into Wikimedia Commons, the image repository, and used in articles throughout Wikipedia. In fact, we were so excited to have one particular photographer attend that the curators prepared objects to be photographed ahead of time. Some of these objects can already be viewed on Commons.

The focus of the day was on the Caplan Collection, a significant portion of the museum's collection that is made up of folk art and toys donated by Frank and Theresa Caplan in 1985. We were lucky to have in attendance Ron Gibson, the former Children's Museum registrar who was in charge of the transportation and acquisition of the Caplan Collection in the 1980s. Mr. Gibson shared amazing stories about his experience, which we now have on video to use as an oral history about the collection.

In the afternoon everyone helped with our Edit-a-Thon, which focused on creating and improving articles about the Caplan Collection. Children's museum curators and archivists worked tirelessly to gather and digitize a large amount of resources relating to Frank and Theresa Caplan, the history of their toy company Creative Playthings, and the Caplan Collection itself. The on-site Wikipedians then used these sources to create three new articles, while other Wikipedians worked online to create yet a fourth article.

At the same time, college students in the Wikipedia Club in Mexico City participated in our Translate-a-Thon. The students checked in over Skype as they translated Children's Museum-related articles into Spanish. (You can see photos of the event on Commons.) By the end of the day, six articles about the museum's most iconic objects were translated into Spanish. Thanks to their help, the QRpedia codes in exhibits are now more accessible to Spanish speaking visitors.

It was an exciting day of sharing the Children's Museum's treasures with Wikipedians from around the state and around the world. With their help, now more families can learn about the Caplan Collection and some of the museum's most beloved objects. Be sure to check out all of their hard work in the Children's Museum of Indianapolis Category in Wikipedia.

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