Les Invalides
Les Invalides, Paris. Photo credit Angela Perez

Online Exhibit Assignment


Assignment: Using Weebly, a free website creation tool, you are to create an online exhibit, just as if you were creating a digital exhibition for a museum, library, archive or historical society. You may use a different website tool for your exhibit project, such as one of those listed here. Just be sure to let your instructor know.

You might be wondering what exactly is an online exhibit? Museums, libraries, archives, associations all publish digital exhibits on the web these days, and these exhibits allow organizations to bring the public's attention to important or interesting objects and stories from their collections. See for example, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire exhibit at the National Archives. Thus, an online exhibit is both informational yet also a public relations tool.

There are many online exhibitions available at any particular time, here are just a few great examples--the top ones in the list have been created by students. Of course some of these are more complicated than others, but notice how each exhibit features specific, individual objects.



How to get started:

First, choose a topic. Find something in the course that you find interesting. Your topic might be rather large (Greek sculpture), or it could be small and focused (early cotton textile machinery). It might help you to look through collections of online objects to find some objects that might fit an idea for a topic. Make sure to ask your instructor for approval.

Second, find online items that you can use for your exhibition. You will need at least ten items, and I would like you to focus on the materials listed in Europeana, but there are many other sources for digital objects, including major museums like MOMA, Nara (difficult to use), Library of Congress, especially American Memory, (of course, Library of Congress would be mostly US-items), Smithsonian, the British Museum, NYPL Digital Gallery. Here are some others that you can use: Bibliothèque nationale de France (don't worry, you can use the English page). Bundesarchiv particularly the still picture archive, the International Dunhuang Project (Central Asia and the Silk Road), Making of America, East Asia Image Collections (Lafayette College), Nagasaki University Digital Collection. Again, you can use items from other sources; just make sure that you consult with your instructor. When you have found some items, please double-check with your instructor for approval. Please note that Wikipedia, or Wikipedia commons, is not an acceptable source for items. Please also note that you should have some images/photos of specific objects, for example, a Greek urn, a steam-powered ferry boat, a person, etc.

Third, get started with Weebly (or one of the other available web tools):

  1. Go to www.weebly.com (This process is pretty much the same whichever tool you choose to use.)
  2. Login by entering your name, email and password. Be sure to use the free version of weebly.
  3. Choose your website name. Make sure that you choose to use a weebly "sub-domain." That means that your URL will include "weebly," for example http://chinaopiumwars.weebly.com/. If you try to use a unique domain name, like chinaopiumwars.com, then you will be charged.
  4. It is going to take you a bit of time to get used to Weebly when you start to build your exhibit in step 6 below. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different things, and then remove examples that don't work. When I am working on creating a website, I usually try something, stop, see how it works and then move on. It will take you some time to get used to the quirks of the program. If you want to try an different site than Weebly, just let me know. It is also a good idea to work on your text.

Fourth, build your collection of items for your exhibit, including objects, photos, maps, timelines, tables, illustrations, figures, videos, and audio clips. These can come from different sources but make sure that you keep track of the citations.

Fifth, find references and information to explain each item in your exhibit. Of course, you can start with Wikipedia as a reference source (make sure that you check on the recommended links at the end of the Wikipedia entry), but you should do further research. Be sure to make use of the reference and informational materials available to you through the online databases at the college's library. (Here is a link to the list of all the databases available; be sure to check Encyclopedia Britannica.) You should list the sources that you find in a specific "references" section for your exhibit.

Sixth, create your exhibit, which should be geared for a general audience but which should also convey your specific knowledge of the topic that you have selected. Stay in contact with your instructor as you work on your exhibit. As you work on the text descriptions and information for your exhibit, it is a good idea to work on that outside of Weebly and then cut-and-paste into Weebly. That way if something goes wrong, you still have your typed-up material.

Seventh, send the URL of your exhibit to your instructor and request feedback (both style and content issues) on your exhibit.

Eight, revise your exhibit in accordance with the critique of your instructor.

Ninth, submit your final exhibit for a grade.

Tenth and finally, please remember that your work is public on the web, viewable by anyone; so you should make it your best possible work.

Exhibit requirements:

Your online exhibit should not include:

Your online exhibit grade will be based on: