What Makes a Good Online Exhibition?

Matthew Israel
Apr 23, 2013 10:25PM

This past week at Museums and the Web—an annual conference featuring “advanced research and exemplary applications of digital practice for cultural, natural and scientific heritage”—I was lucky enough to hear Jennifer Mundy, Head of Collection Research at Tate, speak about the Gallery of Lost Art, a website which is basically a virtual museum presenting the stories behind notable lost artworks. One example, which the site discusses, is Paul Thek’s The Tomb, featured in Peter Hujar’s photograph of Thek’s studio in the 1960s.

I expected that Mundy's talk would take the audience through the site and showcase some of its features. In actuality, Mundy spent more time speaking about a different topic—what makes a good online exhibition. I don’t think my notes are 100% complete, but I caught the following suggestions, which I found very thought-provoking and I hope others may find of interest as well. She said to keep in mind the following...

-Create a parallel space
-Include a social dimension, a sense of shared purpose and a theatrical element
-Content should be rich and curated
-There should be a thesis, which is time-bound and subjective
-The exhibition should be finite
-One should be conscious of a wider audience
-The style and tone of writing is different from that traditionally used in museums
-Content can be emotional
-There should be some thought about adding something to the experience of a work of art since the amount of people who actually get to experience the real thing (versus the amount of people who are on a website) is very small.

(Thanks so much again, Jennifer, for a great talk.)

Matthew Israel