While searching for two museums with online exhibits, I found myself skeptical of whether I could find one (or even two) that would have any negative feedback on my end. Recently, I’ve been discovering that most museums have great online resources to browse through and explore. However, after I discovered two different exhibits from two separate museums, I found that there is one thing that I could complain about which was the use of minimalism in format and content. One could argue that minimalism could pull the audience in and gain more interest in the exhibit. For me, I find this kind of format dull and boring. I would rather learn from an exhibit with as much information as possible than information watered down into a basic answer that consists of at least two sentences. The online exhibits that I’ve chosen are the Smithsonian Online Exhibit’s “Words of Wisdom: Buddist Calligraphy from Japan” from the Freer Gallery of Art and The Mauritshuis Museum exhibit’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” which is teamed up with Google’s Art and Culture feature.

With the Smithsonian Online Exhibit “Words of Wisdom: Buddist Calligraphy from Japan”, I found how in-depth the online exhibit is and how well-organized the online gallery is with the artifacts. Not only it gave a brief description of what each artifact is but other information that goes to the artifact like published references, the age of the artifact, etc. There are about thirty-five artifacts displayed in the online exhibit format which feels like an appropriate amount of artifacts to display and explain to the audience who are viewing this on their computers, phones, and other devices. Another aspect that I also liked about the exhibit is that the quality of media/photos of the artifacts were very well in quality to view. I had no issues viewing and straining my eyes at the images. Overall, the effort to form this online exhibit is very well made and I had no major issues with it.

The Mauritshuis Museum, their online exhibit was very odd to me. Not only the format of their “Girl With a Pearl Earring” was strange but they teamed up with Google to present this exhibit under Google’s platform Arts and Culture. One thing that I like about this exhibit is that the quality of media of the “Girl With a Pearl Earring” art piece was very much high definition. Looking through the details of the art was fascinating and very entrancing. However, my major issue with this exhibit is that it didn’t feel like an actual museum exhibit. It felt more like a high-quality slideshow that was easy to ignore the information that each slide gave. Another issue I had with the exhibit was that there was barely any information about what references it used, the size/dimensions of the art piece, etc. Overall, I was very turned off by the format of the exhibit and how it was presented since it felt very much like a high-quality slideshow that probably someone from the university could have made easily.

Exploring these two online museum exhibits was very interesting to experience. I have used online museum exhibits in the past out of curiosity and an itch of learning if I wasn’t able to go to a museum or learning center due to being busy. But identifying which format and the effort that these exhibits were put together was very interesting and fun.

Segment of a sutra from Mount Koya, Japan, late Heian period, 12th century, gold on indigo-dyed paper, Gift of Sylvan Barnet and William Burto, Freer Gallery of Art, F2014.6.17a-d

Question: Have you explored online museum exhibits in the past? If so, what was it and was it very interesting and fun to learn?

3 Thoughts to “Online Exhibits, Compare and Contrast”

  1. Maxine Laberge

    Hey Hannah, great post! I agree about the minimalist virtual exhibits falling a little short. I was thinking that both of the virtual exhibits I explored would have really benefited from having a strong graphic design on the website. Exhibits that have strong graphic designs are really compelling and draw users in for longer periods of their attention span.

  2. Rose Thao

    Great job on the post and discussing the lack of presence that minimalist online exhibits tend to offer online audiences. I’ve recently explored the online museum exhibit ‘The Life of the Blue Whale’ from The Natural History Museum. This specific exhibit explored the history of the hanging whale skeleton within Hintze Hall of the museum and the analysis of the collection itself.

  3. Arianna Wyanski

    The only times that I’ve explored online exhibits in depth has been for this class, but it was really interesting to see the different types of exhibits that they had available, even if they weren’t up anymore.

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