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Use colors to browse the Smithsonian's best pieces of historical design

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The Smithsonian's design museum, the Cooper-Hewitt, has opened a beta version of its website that allows users to browse its digitzed collection by color. The site offers a grid of 117 colors cribbed from the CSS3 palette. Select one, and you'll see a list of the items in the museum's collection that "robotic eye machines" have decided share that specific hue.

Selected objects are shown in close-up detail in a square frame until the user moves their mouse cursor over them, at which point the object appears in its full glory. Museum staff credit Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum for the inspiration, saying that by leading with the intricacies of the objects in their collection, they have "faith that users will explore and consider the details."

The Cooper-Hewitt museum has reportedly digitized 55 percent of its collection

The Cooper-Hewitt itself is currently closed for renovations until 2014, but Slate says the museum has digitized approximately 55 percent of its collection for show online. In addition to color, users can browse museum objects by a number of different methods — including its country of origin, its type, and people related to its creation — each of which leads all too easily to happy hours of aimless and fascinated clicking.