who we are

Urban Archive is a technology nonprofit that creates new connections between people, places, and cultural institutions. Our mission is to inspire learning that's rooted in what's local–the architecture, culture, and unique stories of New York City.

What we do

Urban Archive leverages mobile technology to map the city’s digital collections and spotlight the institutions that house these treasures. Our platform brings together the collections of various historical institutions in an easy-to-use resource that is built for discovery.

What began as a simple project in 2016 with just three institutions and a few hundred digital assets has now grown to a mobile database with over 80,000 geolocated images sourced from 40 organizations citywide. While the combined collections of our partners constitute a vital resource for the documentation and preservation of our city’s rich history, the scope of this project is much larger.

Urban Archive is designed to animate the public’s understanding of the city itself. Our platform’s easy-to-navigate interface allows our partners use these aggregated assets to tell the story of New York City: the important intersection of architecture, preservation, place, and community.

Why we do it

The advent and proliferation of smartphones present cultural institutions with valuable new opportunities to display and share their collections with the public. But constantly evolving technology is complicated and costly, demanding resources for implementation and maintenance. These challenges leave many institutions grappling with how to best use technology and keep pace with change.

Urban Archive aims to remove these barriers for both the user and the institution. We believe that democratizing these cultural assets with mobile technology will allow our partners to connect with new audiences outside of traditional museum spaces and reach an exponentially larger audience than only those who pass through their doors. Our goal is to take the city’s rich cultural assets out of the museum and put them back into everyday life.

The team

Urban Archive’s team draws on a diverse array of experience in technology, information design, and historic preservation. Our shared backgrounds have helped define a technology product with a clear user focus while remaining sensitive the curatorial standards of established historical institutions.

 

Our advisors