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Author: Jeremy Boggs
Title: Online Exhibitions
Publication Info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
April 2008

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Source: Online Exhibitions
Jeremy Boggs

vol. 11, no. 1, April 2008
Article Type: Column

Online Exhibitions

Jeremy Boggs


As the World Wide Web continues to play an integral role in how we think and learn, libraries, museums, historical societies, and other cultural institutions have increasingly sought to provide solid, informative, unfettered access to their collections and exhibits. As a result, many of these institutions increasingly see the importance of putting exhibits online. The following is a modest list of online exhibits that strike a nice balance between aesthetic quality and engaging content.

Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939–1943

An exhibit by the Library of Congress, Bound for Glory presents rare color photographs taken by the Farm Security Administration during the Depression and Second World War. Part of a physical exhibit that ended in 2006, the online exhibit contains a significant number of photos depicting rural life, industrial growth, and war mobilization. The photos mark the first significant time that documentary photographers used color instead of monochrome.

Curating the City: Wilshire Blvd

Curating the City is a fascinating look at the history and culture of Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles, California. It provides one of the more unique interfaces for exploring the history of urban space. The Los Angeles Conservancy has treated "the city as a living museum." "Explore the Blvd." takes the user to an interactive map of Wilshire Boulevard, replete with images of historical buildings and narrative context detailing the significance of each building. Curating the City also contains lesson plans for teachers on topics such as the automobile and Los Angeles development, current events and culture, and Los Angeles architecture.

When Nixon Met Elvis

When Nixon Met Elvis documents the meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon on December 21, 1970. The exhibit contains letters, photos, and memos related to the meeting, including Presley’s original hand-written letter to Nixon and a detailed memo of what happened in the meeting, written by Nixon aide Egil Krogh. All the primary source documents are available for download in ZIP files.

Billy Hughes at War

A project by the Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Billy Hughes at War is a very engaging exhibit about Billy Hughes, Australia’s Prime Minister during the First World War. Part of a traveling exhibit of the same name, Billy Hughes at War includes background information on Hughes, details on the conscription referendum pushed by Hughes, and peace treaty negotiations that Hughes wanted to influence. Several "inter-activities" allow exhibit users to explore specific questions about conscription, campaign posters, and political cartoons, and a future section called "Teacher’s Guide" is planned to provide resources for classroom use.

The 1916 Rising: Personalities and Perspectives

Created by The National Library of Ireland, The 1916 Rising contains eleven sections detailing the personalities and personas involved in the 1916 uprising in Dublin. Each section contains an image gallery with zoomable images and captions, and text documents with PDF transcriptions. Additionally, the exhibit contains a reference map to help orient users to buildings and places in Dublin mentioned throughout the narrative. The online version is made with Flash, but NLI has provided a PDF version of the online exhibit available for download.

Flight and Rescue

Flight and Rescue is an online exhibit by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that details the story of some 2,100 Jewish refugees that fled Europe during the Second World War. "Journey of Survival" is a multimedia presentation of the story that includes audio narrative, a dynamic map showing refugee movement, text, and photos. A "Gallery of Artifacts" provides a small archive of the materials used in the exhibit, searchable by keyword or browsable by item type or person. The exhibit text is translated into four languages (Chinese, Dutch, English, and Japanese).

van Gogh’s Letters

Hundreds of Vincent van Gogh’s letters are available though van Gogh’s Letters. Created by Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement, the exhibit allows users to examine the letters chronologically, through keywords with associated contextual material, or by search. The letters are both transcribed and available as an image.

Ansel Adams at 100

Ansel Adams at 100 is an online exhibit by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that showcases seven photos by Adams in an effort to explore the history and context behind each. Clicking on a photo takes you to a page devoted to that photo, surrounded by related questions that reveal more information about the photo and its place in the history of photography. Additional photos, documents, and interviews with curators accompany each photo to provide a rich, immersive experience for exploring the details of Adams’ work.