A guest learns about a Smithsonian photo on an iPad

The White House promised that it would open up government data last year, and it's now expanding those plans in some intriguing directions. For one, it's opening up the Smithsonian American Art Museum's digitized collection; you'll soon get to build apps and other tools using the institution's artwork as a foundation. Even curators don't have that much access right now, the administration says.

Other open data efforts won't be quite so pretty, but they should still prove helpful. The FDA will soon publish its full drug safety reports, which could lead to apps that warn you about risky medicine. There are also plans to share travel warnings, federal lab findings and small business suppliers. Most of the content should be accessible by early 2015, so it won't be long before you can tinker with everything from masterpieces to medical info.

[Image credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Flickr]