The Kickstarter Blog

The Smithsonian and Kickstarter

(Mark Avino, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)
(Mark Avino, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

Kickstarter is a place that honors creativity, past and present. We celebrate creators who are shaping the future — but we can’t begin to think about what lies ahead without looking back. By supporting the work of preserving and sharing cultural artifacts, we can inspire future innovators to keep making amazing things.

That’s why we’re so excited to be working with the Smithsonian Institution and its museums as they launch a series of projects on Kickstarter — our first such partnership. The Smithsonian’s first project, from the National Air & Space Museum, focuses on the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong as he stepped off a ladder and became the first person on the moon.

The suit is highly fragile, so it’s had to be kept in storage. The museum plans to conserve the suit, digitally scan it, and return it to public display ahead of the moon landing’s 50th anniversary in 2019. Backers of the project can follow that process and get unique rewards, including mission patches, behind-the-scenes tours, and the scan data so they can make their own 3D prints of Neil’s glove.

Kickstarter is a great way to invite people to be part of the work you’re doing. And when your work involves world-changing artifacts like this, that's a pretty amazing invitation! The “Reboot the Suit” project will let people around the world get involved, even if they aren’t able to visit the museum. And it’s a way for the Smithsonian to reach a broad new audience. Our Kickstarter community is passionate about culture, technology, innovation, and the points where they intersect — from Oculus Rift to LightSail. And it’s 9 million backers strong.

It’s such a privilege to be collaborating with the Smithsonian, and we can't wait to see what's next on their project list.

New from the Archives: July 2015

In an effort to stay current with the latest projects launching through our Archives initiative, we will be periodically checking in to share with you what's new on this corner of the site. This month, we have have eight projects that range in scope from sword illustrations to ska bands to a multimedia tribute to a ceramics factory. Read on for more.

25 Years Of Tomorrow


Collecting all 25 years of Tom Tomorrow's comic strip This Modern World — a weekly cartoon of political and social satire and mainstay of alt-weeklies — into a thousand-page, fifteen-pound, two-volume set of books. 

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Guest Post: a Cross-Country Makerspace Road Trip

Jesse Vincent and Kaia Dekker of Keyboardio are presently running a project called the Model 01, a hackable, ergonomic, heirloom-grade keyboard. But that's not all — in addition to managing this hugely successful project, they're also on a road trip across the United States, visiting makerspaces with the Model 1 so that people can try it out. When we heard about this month-long endeavor, we asked them to tell us more about the experience.

Technically, it's an international road trip (thanks Toronto and Vancouver!)
Technically, it's an international road trip (thanks Toronto and Vancouver!)

There's a lot of advice out there about how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign. Approximately none of it recommends that you spend the month of the campaign crisscrossing America. But that's what we decided to do. Part of it was convenient logistics: we needed to get our Honda Civic from Somerville, MA, where it's been hanging out for the past year-and-a-half, to our new house in Oakland, CA.

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Planning Your Rewards

The process of planning out your rewards is different for each project. Still, there are several recurring pieces of advice we keep hearing from creators who've gone through the experience — include what you're making as one of your rewards. Feature a range of rewards, including unique experiences backers can only get from backing the project. Consider your shipping costs. We could go on and on about this, but it's best to hear it directly from creators — so above, Lisa Lucas of Guernica, Alex Shvartsman of Unidentified Funny Objects, and Daniel José Older of Long Hidden break rewards down for you. And if you should be in the market for even more insight, scope out our playlist on rewards and reward fulfillment right here

The Process: Restoring Sixteenth-Century Illustrations

Adelheid Zimmerman is a freelance designer, artist, maker, fencer, gamer, and more, residing in Madison, Wisconsin. We first encountered her work last year when she ran a project for the restoration of sixteenth-century German longsword illustrations — a project that also caught the eye of 239 backers. She returned this year with a companion project, a restoration of Marozzo's side sword illustrations from 1536, which is currently live. We asked Zimmerman to talk to us about what exactly goes into restoration of this sort. 

I have taken on a project to restore and reproduce the illustrations from Achille Marozzo’s Opera Nova. There are two reasons that I find this project fascinating. I love that I am putting into the hands of historical European martial artists the images that the masters taught from in the form that they were intended. On a more personal level, I enjoy the artistic investigation of the restoration and visceral pleasure of producing that art in a historical manner.

When Marozzo needed illustrations for his fencing manual, he would have gone to an artist for sketches. When a final draft was approved, it was transferred to wood and carved by a highly skilled tradesman who would then remove the negative space from a specially prepared block of hardwood. These engravings and a manuscript of the text were taken to the printer who laid out the lead type and woodblocks, which were then printed onto pages that could be folded into signatures.

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How to Get Featured on Kickstarter

We spend a lot of time sharing our enthusiasm for Kickstarter projects, whether it’s with our Staff Picks, the Project of the Day, newsletters like Projects We Love, or just tweeting and Facebooking and Instagramming inspiring new ideas. That means we spend a lot of time answering two important questions:

1. How do you choose which projects to feature?

We have a whole team of people in our office with backgrounds in all sorts of creative fields. When we spot projects we think are really exceptional, we try to let the world know about them. It’s really that simple.

2. How can I get my project featured?

The easy answer: Build a wonderful, exceptional project!

Most of this is about having a great idea, a great talent, or something really unique to show people. But no matter what you're working on, there are loads of things you can do to make sure your project page is polished, attractive, well-built, and shareable. Here are the major points.

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Tech Weekly: Different Angles

To be truly innovative requires a new perspective. And sometimes the best way to gain a whole new perspective is to approach things from an entirely different angle.

From a vertical record player to a five axis CNC mill, here are a few Technology projects that take that objective literally.

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