Lost in Balboa Park will propel Balboa Park to a world-leading, dynamic, integrated cultural experience.
Over the past 100 years, Balboa Park has grown into a distinguished collection of 27 institutions, each with expertise in diverse areas of art, science, history, and culture. As we begin our next century, we need to weave this expertise into a single whole: digitally.
"When everything is connected to everything else ... everything matters." - Bruce Mau
Attracting 12 million visitors per year, Balboa Park is home to world-renowned treasures—both living, contemporary and historic. The Park is a rich physical experience where culture and community collide. As cultural and societal trends evolve—particularly as the Millennials’ influence grows—the way we engage with arts and culture, our current understanding of its value and how we experience it is being disrupted. This disruption is centered on the connected and networked environment and manifests as the self-determined consumption of content, whenever we want it and wherever we are.
The future of the museum rests on creating a deeper experience. We can create this experience by blending the digital and the physical to support a deeper engagement in the Park for all audiences, drawing them in with reputation and rich information. By connecting our collections, performances and experiences we can reach beyond our location and spark curiosity in Balboa Park and San Diego. To truly realize Aristotle’s observation that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, with the Park’s museums and institutions sharing their areas of expertise together the value of the whole campus increases. The connections between objects, people and events tell the story and describe the importance and relevance of the Park’s collections. This initiative will connect institutions, and will connect people all over the world.
If we consider a single encyclopedic, content-rich website for Balboa Park, simple extrapolation would suggest that we should be able to lead the international museum community with over 60 million visits a year. The impact and benefit of this to the Park and San Diego as a whole cannot be overstated as a driver of local, national and international visitors, revenue, and elevation of our professional standing in the museum and cultural community. The increasingly crucial role that digital content plays in our lives and the opportunities that it offers demands that we comprehensively address this issue not least from the perspective of preservation and sustainability of our intellectual property, but also as an initiative that serves a strictly digital audience and enhances a visitor’s experience of the Park.
We have the opportunity to expose what we have in the Park to a global audience, increasing visibility and visits and helping people discover hidden treasures that build excitement and loyalty for years to come.
In our connected world, Balboa Park can create connections—both internally and externally—to become a hub of information nationally and internationally.
Why? And why now?
To experience Balboa Park is to have an encyclopedic encounter with culture, tourism and nature. As emerging generations seek out cultural interactions, they also seek to be put in control of their experience: they want to be informed, educated and have a serendipitous interaction on their own terms. This big idea aims to do that, by connecting audiences to art, science, nature and Balboa Park itself. Lost in Balboa Park will create an experience of the park that can be consumed as a purely digital experience, but more importantly provokes a physical visit to our “jewel,” supported by an all-seeing, all-knowing guide that will expose the hidden treasures, point out the must-sees, and ensure that the experience is unforgettable.
With 27 institutions in the park, think of Lost in Balboa Park as the “28th institution:” a unified view of Balboa Park that establishes the digital – as well as the physical – as a destination, a gateway to an encounter with art, culture, science and nature where connections and relationships are doorways into discovery, curiosity, serendipity and experience.
As it stands, Balboa Park is not always seen as a whole by visitors. Instead, many see it as a makeup of distinct institutions, each with its own collections, goals, and governance. Lost in Balboa Park will collapse the boundaries between institutions by uniting Balboa Park into a single cultural destination. The initiative will empower the institutions to manage and present their collections online, further extending the Park’s reach and driving visitors to the Park. We estimate that the initiative will increase physical Park visitorship by 50%.
Lost in Balboa Park will reinforce San Diego as one of the world’s largest and most dynamic cultural hubs. If taken together as one encyclopedic museum, the sheer range of collections and expertise in the Park far exceeds other internationally-renowned museums in the field. An initiative that exposes these rich treasures will boost San Diego’s visibility, economy, and technology reputation.
Global Cultural Heritage Community
Lost in Balboa Park represents a new way of thinking for the cultural heritage community. It is about empowering institutions, providing them with the tools needed to operationalize the management, digitization, and online access of their collections. It is about building a partnership of large and small institutions across disciplines. Finally, it is about creating deep digital engagements that put visitors at the center of their own experiences, allowing them to build and share playlists and discover collections based on interest and mood. Lost in Balboa Park's fresh take on information sharing and digital experience will put Balboa Park in the forefront of the global cultural heritage community.