Digital Exhibitions and Collections

Digital exhibitions are one of my main areas of interest in public history, so choosing just one particular online exhibition to look at was very difficult. I enjoy the design and quality of information on the Guggenheim, Tate Modern, Detroit Institute of Art, The Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, and MoMA’s digital collections and exhibitions websites. All have extensive collections ranging in medium, technique, art movement, and political ideologies and manage to adequately educate viewers on each piece in their expansive collections. However the most comprehensive, educational, and wonderfully designed digital exhibition I’ve come across is Louise Bourgeois’s official retrospective website.

Louise Bourgeois Website

This website, designed through MoMA includes all of the artwork created by artist, Louise Bourgeois. Her work is categorized in multiple ways on the website to provide a better educational experience for the viewer. The viewer is first directed to read about the artist and the importance of her work in the about section. Then the viewer address the themes that are prevalent in her artwork, which are broken down and explained. My favorite feature on the blog, is located on the themes pages and is at the bottom of the photo shown above. After the viewer learns about the themes discussed the artist’s artwork, then they can click one of the tabs to either view all instances of the the theme, including multiple copies of prints, or view a curated selection that highlights these themes. This feature allows for a novice who is developing an interest in art history to learn more about certain themes and symbols, and for a scholar or someone who is more interested in discovering everything they can about the artist to comb through her entire collection. The tab technique breaks down the artist printing techniques and educated the viewer on the difference between mediums like drypoint, etching and other printmaking techniques.

This digital exhibition is by far the most comprehensive I’ve come across. It provides information in a clear and concise way that is highlighted in the very user friendly design of the website. The theme feature is very important and can see how this type of feature would add a lot to other digital art exhibitions. With online art exhibitions, it’s easy for the viewer to scroll through the artwork quickly and not take the time to adequately view and contemplate the artwork, in a way that they wouldn’t be able to do if they were viewing the artwork in person. By creating these subsections of education information that breaks down important issues and political ideology in the artwork that the viewer has to see before they encounter the artwork, the viewer is more likely to retain that information, and interacting with the artwork in a way the benefits their learning.  I encourage everyone to check out the website, you all will definitely learn new things about the artist’s influential role in a variety of art movements throughout her life.

In relation to the article we read, Digital storytelling, I definitely agree that technology should be used well and sparingly in actual exhibits. Interaction should be important, but the ultimate goal for museums and exhibits should be education, and technology and digital history should act as a tool to facilitate that idea. One of the points that really stuck out to me in the article was, social media should be social, and not used for every little thing. I have seen so many museums try to be trendy with hashtags that don’t facilitate any conversation about the actual exhibition. While this is more related to exhibitions in person, not necessarily digital exhibitions, I still believe it’s important to mention here. In relation to born digital, and digitized exhibitions and collections, with what the article was saying, it should be interactive, inclusive, well organized, and well utilized. Things shouldn’t be digital just because. There needs to be an educational purpose, whether that is to show and educate the public the retrospective works of a very influential artist, or to show an expansive catalog of collections for scholars and enthusiasts to delve deeper into research. the continuation of education, outside of the museum institution should be the main purpose of digital exhibitions.


Nikki Reed: First year MA student in Public History. Interest in Digital Archiving, Art History, and Art.

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