Q&A With Cody Coltharp of Smithsonian Institution!

Cody is a Digital Interactive Designer at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access! He caught us up on both what he and the Smithsonian are working on!

Q: What is your name?

Cody Coltharp.

Q: What is your favorite color?


Q: What is the average velocity of an unladen swallow?

Ooo, ooo, ooo- an African or European Swallow? 

According to Google, 41 mph! Not quite a speeding bullet, but…

Q: What do you do and how did you get there? 

I design games, graphics, and interactives for the Smithsonian. I got my start in games by responding to a Craigslist posting to do some art for a new company called Green Door Labs (you might have heard of them). I was then hired by the Smithsonian to teach game design at the Hirshhorn’s ARTLAB+ program after connecting through a game we created for the Girl Scouts that was a Smithsonian collaboration. I eventually found my way to the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA), where I am now, working hard on making the millions of Smithsonian resources out there more interactive.

Q: What are you working on?

Tons. Screencast tutorials and an animated infographic for our website, the Smithsonian Learning Lab, a new deck for the card game CURIO that we use to promote the site (think Cards Against Humanity but with art/science resources), and two very cool web/VR interactives: one around the Wright Brothers Flyer and another about superstar astrophysicist Kim Arcand’s 3D rendering of Cassiopeia A:

Q: What is the Smithsonian working on? 

Lots! The Smithsonian Science Education Center is creating an app about global water management called Aquation, (prototype here) there are three AR museum projects currently being pitched, and of course, the coolest game of the summer: Mystery of the Megatherium Club!

Q: What are you most excited about in terms of the future of games and museums and storytelling in general? 

Since the Smithsonian is very much location-based, the developments in AR/IR are the most exciting to me. Real-time room interactivity (like what Google Tango is doing) is going to be revolutionary for museum spaces. Looking ahead, what does that mean for museums? Completely blank walls? It’s a weird thought. 

I’m interested in VR for the opposite reasons- creating content around places that are impossible to otherwise visit in person (like the center of a supernova). Doodling around with Google Blocks/Tiltbrush/Quill in VR has been a lovely reminder that all my skills are rapidly becoming outdated. I envision a geriatric version of myself, hobbling its avatar around the 3D realms, squawking “In my day, we used PENCILS to draw!”

Thanks, Cody!!

The Mystery of the Megatherium Club is a free to play scavenger hunt running until the end of August. If you are in the DC area and enjoy puzzle and finding clues, sign up here. Few spots remain for July and August is filling quickly! 


One response to “Q&A With Cody Coltharp of Smithsonian Institution!”

  1. Peggy Hogarth Avatar
    Peggy Hogarth

    Cody, you continue to blow me out of the water!
    I checked you out online and am delighted to read about your career.
    What you are involved with sounds like a dream come true for you wjth your artistic talents, intelligence and creativity. I knew you would never settle for the mundane nor would you have to. Congratulations and know that you remain among my dearest memories.

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