For this week’s assignment, I chose two really interesting online exhibits. It was really hard to choose because I found so many really cool ones, so I’ll post those links at the end of this post if anyone is interested in seeing them. I really wanted to write about a natural history or biology related exhibit, but I ended up choosing two that were not that, but like I said, I’ll post the runners-up at the end.

Image credit: Iconem – DOA – MAFL – La mécanique du plastique. From: https://www.si.edu/exhibitions/age-old-cities-virtual-journey-palmyra-mosul:event-exhib-6482?id=event_exhib_6482

For the collaborative effort, I found a really cool exhibition called Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul that was created by the Arab World Institute (AWI) in Paris, France. This was a collaboration with AWI and Iconem, UNESCO, and Ubisoft with support by the University of Lausanne and L’Oeuvre d’Orient. The exhibit featured six historic monuments from three cities across the Middle East and North Africa. The really cool part of this exhibit was that it was a virtual reality, 360° view YouTube video. I love these so much. There are some on YouTube that give great 360° views of the inner workings of the human cell. If you don’t have very much experience with these, you can zoom and “look around” by clicking and dragging your mouse or by using the arrows in the top left corner. I think they do take a pretty decent internet connection, the music seemed to glitch out sometimes for me. The Age Old Cities video was terrific. I also find that the more immersive an experience is, the more memorable and impactful it is to me (no surprise there). At first, I thought that for this assignment, I would be flipping through photos with little context, but I was really impressed with this one! I think the background music really took it to a different level and really created a very special experience.

Button with the image of Marsha P. Johnson who was a leading activist for gay and transgender rights. Image from: https://americanhistory.si.edu/illegal-to-be-you/how-far-will-you-go

The more non-collaborative exhibit I found is called Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall. This is an exhibit at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. I chose this exhibit because as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I believe it is so important to remember where we came from and who we have to thank for the rights we have today. This is a relatively small online exhibit that highlights people and objects associated with the Stonewall uprising events which were in response to police raids in queer spaces in Manhattan, June 1969. I thought this exhibit did a good job of engaging with the audience. I found the photos to be both interesting and informative. I especially liked the gripping language that was used for the different titles of the pages. One was “What do you do with your feelings? How do you survive?” One piece of criticism that I have is that I believe that there was insufficient mention about the transgender community and people of color, especially black trans women. There was a button with Marsha P. Johnson’s image on it, but not much other than that. My main issue with this is that the uprising has been largely whitewashed even in the queer community, so I we should be making even more effort to talk about these people when we talk about these events.

Q: Kind of in the vein of the VR video, in what ways do you think we could create more immersive online exhibits as we continue forward into the Information Age? I’ve always thought that something like smell-o-vision idea would be interesting (haha), or at least something that could appeal to another of our senses. With haptic touch technology increasing, maybe something that could appeal to our sense of touch…

Runners-up:

Elephants and Us: Considering Extinction – About elephant conservation

Habitat – About the natural habitats and their protection (Visually stunning)

Online Exhibits – This one is the collection of so many different exhibits which is where I found all of mine.

2 Thoughts to “Engaging Online Exhibits: Age Old Cities and Illegal to Be You”

  1. Barbara Long

    Good Evening,

    Interesting post as well. Smell-a-vision, you are not the first to think of this one nor the last. Technology is just around the corner on this one. I think virtual reality will be propelled to the forefront, as a new technological approach’s are finely/tuned developed in order to reach out and engage people through multiple mediums.We are in the information age, it will speed up within the next two years as new technological interfaces are created. Our museum exhibitions will drastically change, I believe for ever. I will say that change is difficult for me. I just hope we have great museum staff and volunteers to help all this smoothly transition over. I could go on forever. Thanks for sharing.
    Respectfully,
    Barbara

  2. Angela Linn

    Nice comparison Tony. VR is a great way to immerse yourself in content – I’m a huge “Ready Player One” fan (both the movie and the book) so the idea of immersive experiences using haptic suits, VR headsets, and omnidirectional treadmills seems both plausible and slightly scary… I really believe in using all these online tools to expand the reach of in-house exhibits and deepen the understanding of the objects and stories held in the museum.
    I also really appreciate your assessment of the NMAH exhibit. LGBTQ+ voices and experiences are among the communities who have not commonly seen themselves represented in museums. A few years ago I had the pleasure of attending a keynote presentation at the Western Museums Association conference by author and historian Gregory Hinton. The founder of “Out West” he has inspired collecting initiatives at museums and archives all over the western United States to diversify their exhibitions, collections, and programs. https://sandiegohistory.org/event/gregory-hinton-out-west-with-buffalo-bill/. My eyes were really opened to the lack of representation in most museums all across the west of this marginalized and diverse community. I hope we can do better.

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