Practical tips for creating online exhibitions


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Taking the new ‘Treasures of the Bodleian’ exhibition as a case study, this seminar explored the practical and philosophical aspects of creating an online exhibition. Discussion focused on: planning, digitization, narrative versus database, interactivity, social media and engagement.

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  • 1) This definition covers the wide range of solutions using varying technologies e.g. free flickr album to bespoke “bells and whistles” website 2) Online exhibition can be stand alone or in support of a physical exhibition space
  • Affordable in comparison to other techniques for display, esp. if free! Physical exhibition support via reach, longevity and even merchandise sales. Rich experience e.g. audio, video, interactives, image zoom etc Audience building – subscription opportunities Conversation - UGC
  • 1) Who? E.g. expectations, level of prior knowledge etc
  • 1) Based on Bodleian colours and fonts 2) Reflects modernity of Weston Library 3) Flexible design for multiple devices (width)
  • 1) Users most important thing 2) Can talk about other issues related on online exhibitions all day but useless if what you produce doesn’t work for users
  • 1) Almost the biggest part of the project 2) Content production takes longer than you think – plan well for it 2) Process of getting objects shot at the Bodleian and difficult objects, e.g. Herculaneum scrolls
  • Explain “narrative” and “database” Need to convey the story of the exhibition, absolutely, BUT Have to consider that you have no control over where people come onto the site and what they do when they are there Unlikely to behave in a straight line like a story Need to cater for this random landing pages and non-linear behaviour Also consider that people don’t respond well to having to drill down endlessly as linear narrative might dictate. This is where more responsive “database” can help Database can also be used to provide an element of “freshness” and “surprise” Search function needed for those who know what they want
  • 1) Flat navigation – explore everything at one, top level and only need to leave page for deeper information 2) Surprise people – database – ‘More treasures’ and home page banner treasure random 3) Reduce drilling down 4) Provide and link into themes and narrative but don’t restrict or force the user to choose 5) Ensure everything makes sense outside of a hierarchical structure online 6) Conveyors and filters provide journey into themes 7) Allow ‘database’ to collate and promote UGC for freshness 7) Search included for people who know what they want
  • Introduction video for exhibition and debate 2) Podcasts in original languages and English and objects that benefit from reading (e.g. poems) 3) Content on relevant object pages but also collated (esp. useful for use in exhibition room where people interested in the ‘extra’) 4) Using technology to provide further levels of information and interpretation 5) Engagement 6) Different routes to discovery
  • Involvement / ownership for visitors Modern ‘conversational’ approach 3) Fascinating insight / market research for Bodleian 4) Collating and seeding to encourage participation - use of database to promote fresh content
  • Allow exhibition visitors to select an object for the opening exhibition of the Weston Library 2) List for general visitor but also free-format box for those with deeper knowledge of collections or deeper interest.
  • 1) Images aid visual association and interpretation 2) “Prettier” and less of a sore thumb in room 3) Link online and offline offers 4) Encourage people to vote and comment
  • Pushing and monitoring via Twitter Twitter on home page For Bodleian, opportunity to disseminate and increase “followers” etc
  • Practical tips for creating online exhibitions

    1. 1. Alison Prince Bodleian Libraries Web Manager Practical tips for creating online exhibitions Peter Pavement Surface Impression
    2. 2. What is an online exhibition? <ul><li>Debatable. How about… </li></ul><ul><li>… Online display of collections with the aim of engaging an audience that is not necessarily expert. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why create an online exhibition? <ul><li>Relatively affordable </li></ul><ul><li>Widen access to collections. </li></ul><ul><li>Support for physical exhibition. </li></ul><ul><li>D isplay space issues. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Rich” experience possible through digital tech. </li></ul><ul><li>Raise digital profile. </li></ul><ul><li>Allows use of social media and search to build audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity for 2-way conversation with audience </li></ul>
    4. 4. Planning process <ul><li>What? Choose content. </li></ul><ul><li>Who? Identify audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? Define goals. </li></ul><ul><li>How? What will be build and choice of technologies. </li></ul><ul><li>When? Scheduling (esp. with marketing.) </li></ul>
    5. 5. Case study: Treasures of the Bodleian <ul><li>Bodleian Libraries exhibition </li></ul><ul><li>Shows some of the rarest, most evocative items in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Asks what a ‘treasure’ is in the 21 st century </li></ul><ul><li>Physical exhibition open 30 September 2011 to 23 December 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Build up to new ‘treasures’ gallery opening in 2015 </li></ul>
    6. 6. Objectives <ul><li>Support the physical exhibition </li></ul><ul><li>Exploit opportunities to create a rich, interactive experience ( http:// ) </li></ul><ul><li>Engage the public with the debate </li></ul><ul><li>Promote the Weston Library </li></ul><ul><li>Provide a permanent ‘treasures’ website </li></ul><ul><li>Generate opportunities for digital communication </li></ul>
    7. 7. Design
    8. 8. Usability <ul><li>User-focused decision making </li></ul><ul><li>User testing at design and development site stages </li></ul>
    9. 9. Content production <ul><li>Digitisation / sourcing of images </li></ul><ul><li>Text for objects and themes </li></ul><ul><li>Object metadata </li></ul><ul><li>Transcripts </li></ul><ul><li>Sourcing related information </li></ul><ul><li>Filming for videos </li></ul><ul><li>Recording for podcasts </li></ul><ul><li>Text and content for supporting pages </li></ul>
    10. 10. The ‘curator’ <ul><li>Traditional role includes </li></ul><ul><li>Selection of objects for inclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Creation of themes and narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Development of expert content </li></ul><ul><li>But how does this narrative structure hold together online? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Navigation and discovery <ul><li>Q: Narrative or database? Curator or user? </li></ul><ul><li>A: Both! </li></ul><ul><li>Must reflect themes and narrative of exhibition </li></ul><ul><li>Also provide other routes to content to cater for different interests / browsing habits </li></ul><ul><li>Consider randomness of landing pages </li></ul><ul><li>Provide search function </li></ul>
    12. 12. The Treasures solution
    13. 13. The Treasures solution
    14. 14. Interactive media <ul><li>Video introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Videos of experts supporting ‘treasures’ </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive treasures map </li></ul><ul><li>Treasures through time </li></ul><ul><li>Choriorama game </li></ul>
    15. 15. Comments and voting <ul><li>Debate: what is a ‘treasure?’ </li></ul><ul><li>Vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and comment at object level </li></ul><ul><li>Enter ‘treasure’ definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Results collated and published </li></ul>
    16. 16. The ‘People’s Choice’ <ul><li>People as ‘curator’ </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-populated list and ‘suggestions box’ </li></ul>
    17. 17. QR codes in exhibition room <ul><li>Direct link to treasures and voting </li></ul>
    18. 18. Social media <ul><li>‘ Sharing’ opportunity on every page </li></ul><ul><li>Videos in YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>@bodleianlibs #BODtreasures </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring (Social Mention) </li></ul>
    19. 19. Performance management <ul><li>Google Analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Sample count of website users in exhibition room </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter keyword searches </li></ul><ul><li>Google alerts / Social Mention </li></ul><ul><li>Press clipping service </li></ul>
    20. 20. How is the website doing?
    21. 21. Contact details <ul><li>Alison Prince Bodleian Libraries Web Manager alison .prince@ bodleian uk 01865 277235 </li></ul><ul><li>@themissprince </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Pavement Director [email_address] 01273 985600 </li></ul><ul><li>@peterpavement </li></ul>