Non-profit Art Venues' Online Exhibits Research and Advocacy Project

 



 

Advocacy

TFAO advocates that museums place -- and keep -- as much information as possible in their website postings of future, current and past exhibits. For each exhibit, information may include images, a description, artist statement, curator statement, plus links to a press release, media coverage, gallery tour or artist interview videos, teacher guide, wall texts, object labels, check list, brochure and more. Students, teachers, curators and others may find this information useful many years into the future.

Many museums create a page for each exhibit which is transferred from the future exhibits section, to the current exhibits section, and finally to the past exhibits section. Some museums add added information to an exhibit page when new information becomes available while the exhibit is on display. 

However, some other museums delete some or all previously posted information once the exhibit has ended. This is unfortunate because little effort is needed to retain the information. We hope that eventually all museums will archive all exhibit information placed on their websites.

 

Letters to museums advocating rich content in exhibit descriptions 

As a part of the project, TFAO identified certain museums at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with the tag: "limited descriptions of past exhibits." TFAO invites individuals to send advocacy letters by email to these tagged museums. The subject line for the letter may say:

Online future, current and past exhibit information

and the text of the letter may say:

Dear ___________ (Ms. or Mr.  Last Name, or, if only a general mailbox, "Hello")
 
For some time I have enjoyed reviewing content about exhibits you place on your website. It's wonderful to see the diversity of approaches museums take in presenting information.
 
While postings for your exhibits contain some of the motivational, informational and educational elements listed below, please consider adding some additional ones to further benefit your online audience. Especially when more and more people use the internet as the "go to" source for information.
 
Some of these elements are:
 
-- Links to press releases, outside media coverage, other web coverage, and artist websites.
 
-- PDF images of gallery guides, teacher guides, brochures and catalogs
 
-- Artist statements
 
-- Video interviews by curators 
 
-- In-gallery materials including texts from wall panels and object labels
 
-- Checklists with and without thumbnail images
 
-- virtual tours
 
-- Using the same URL for future, current and past exhibit postings to provide continuity of identification by educators who wish to link to them and for fluid transfer of URLs from pages containing listings for current, future and past exhibits.
 
Each additional piece of information you post and keep for exhibits further motivates people to visit. Additional materials also provide a valuable educational resource for those unable to attend, and for researchers. Students, teachers, curators and others find archived information useful many years into the future. 
 
Best regards,

and the signature the letter will be:

your name (no need to reference TFAO)

We encourage writers to alter the suggested text if they wish to personalize it. For privacy protection, a volunteer may wish to set up a separate email account for the project.

TFAO and each volunteer should agree up front on the institutions the volunteer will contact to avoid duplication of effort. We recommend that volunteers only use email addresses publicly posted in museum websites in preparing letters, even though writers are not representing TFAO.

We ask that each letter have a bcc to TFAO. TFAO will tag each letter entry at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with a note saying: "(date of letter) rich content letter." This will signify that the museum need not be reached by another person.

 

Who should volunteer?

Artists, authors, students and other art-loving individuals may volunteer for the project.

Satisfaction will be found in helping educators and institutions better serve their publics.

Volunteers will not be publicly acknowledged on TFAO's wesbite, nor will their personally-identifying information be shared with other organizations. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Acknowledgment of service hours will be provided to students.

 

Equipment and software

Volunteers can use a laptop or desktop computer allowing multiple windows to be open at the same time for note, browser and email programs. The letter text and subject templates are available on a note window for copying. A browser window contains available email addresses from a museum's website. Each outgoing email is processed in a separate email window by pasting of the letter body and subject, and entering an email address.  Also, a tablet device can be used by toggling between a note window containing the subject and letter templates, a browser window showing an email address in the museum's website, and an email window to merge the email address and the body of the letter.


Past exhibitions

Beginning in 2014, TFAO began studying museum coverage of prior exhibits. Through TFAO's research, if prior exhibits were found for a museum during a museum's "looked back thru" study period stated in the (A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z) Calendar Update Schedule that were not covered in Resource Library's articles and essays -- yet qualified for coverage in Topics in American Art -- the exhibits were entered into the appropriate Topic. Some "looked back thru" study periods state that the review covered the time period from the beginning of a museum's listing of past exhibits to the "looked back thru" study date. Other "looked back thru" study periods are from the date of a prior study period to the most recent period. The "looked back thru" study periods generally end at December, 2016 because starting in 2017 all of a museum's exhibits, based on its study status, were being researched for inclusion in Topics in American Art.

 

Update of present "looked back thru" notations

For museums listed within the (A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z) Calendar Update Schedule with current "looked back thru" tags and without "limited descriptions of past exhibits" or "no permanent URLs for exhibits" tags, TFAO will look back from the date of the last review through 12/16 for openings of exhibits that qualify for inclusion in Topics in American Art. After 12/16, the National Calendar of Art Exhibitions listed all exhibits subject to research and published the resolution of research. 

For "looked back thru" reviews last completed prior to 10/16, TFAO will:

1. check appropriate past exhibits not yet reviewed for topics inclusion against exhibits with Resource Library's articles and essays published through 9/16 for those museums listed in the Art Museum, Gallery and Art Center index;
 
2. for appropriate past exhibits not yet reviewed with no Resource Library articles and essays published through 9/16, check for prior exhibit inclusion in Topics in American Art.

For "looked back thru" reviews last completed 10/16 to 12/16, check only Topics in American Art for exhibits opening after the review.

After the above research is completed, those exhibits that qualify for inclusion in Topics in American Art will be added to the appropriate topic. Each revised National Calendar of Exhibitions entry will say, e.g., "(study date) looked back through 12/16" 

As of 8/18, all museums in this category have been studied.

 

Museums without "looked back thru" notations

After the above museums with present "looked back thru" notations are updated, TFAO will study other museums without "limited descriptions of past exhibits" or "no permanent URLs for exhibits" tags. TFAO will study exhibits dating back to the beginning of the past exhibits section of museum websites and add information on qualified exhibits to the appropriate topic within Topics in American Art.

TFAO will:

1. check appropriate past exhibits against exhibits with Resource Library's articles and essays published through 9/16 for those museums listed in the Art Museum, Gallery and Art Center index;
 
2. for appropriate past exhibits with no Resource Library articles and essays published through 9/16, check for prior exhibit inclusion in Topics in American Art,
 
3. check only Topics in American Art for exhibits opening 10/16 to 12/16.

 

Return to Research Projects, Reports and Studies

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.


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