Final Project

Final Project

For my digital history project I created an alpha version of a website that allows both scholars and non-scholars to explore past, current, and upcoming art exhibitions in Washington, D.C. It provides users with three different means to search exhibitions by and they are: institution, location or artists. Additionally, the search bar at the top right corner of the site allows the users to find exhibitions by artistic style, time period, or medium. This early version of the website provides general information about two institutions, a summary and suggestions for further reading for 42 exhibitions, and a list of 18 artists. It also includes a CartoDB map with the locations of 54 art museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. and an up to date calendar of exhibitions currently on view.

The inclusion of past and present exhibition in Washington, D.C. invites both a scholarly and non-scholar audiences to access the site. This website can be helpful for art historians who are interested in the history of a particular art institution or artist. Since each exhibition has a summary and additional readings for the artists and exhibitions this website can be an easy beginning point for undergraduates or younger scholars research projects. Also, looking at the different exhibition offered in Washington, D.C. over a particular period in time can also be useful for historians, art historians, or cultural studies scholars researching topics such as collective memory or shifts in museum practices.

This website is beneficial to a variety of non-scholarly users as well. The most common non-scholarly users would be tourists, art enthusiasts, or museumgoers wanting to see current or upcoming art exhibits. As of currently, if this group of people were trying to find an art exhibit that interests them can either check a specific institutions’ website or look at a local newspaper or magazine’s website. One problem with this method is that they must already know the name of an institution or local publishing first, in order to find out what exhibitions are being offered. If they do not know, then they could also “Google” this information, but often times only the names of major art institutions will come up as immediate options. In conclusion, currently there is not an efficient method for art museum and galleries visitors to find exhibitions in Washington, D.C.

There are websites that list all the art museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. such as Wikipedia, Artcyclopedia, Washington.org, Yelp, dcist.com, and US Museums Explorer. However, these websites just give you general information on the museums like its address, contact information, and social media sites. On these websites users cannot see what is currently on exhibit at the museum and in some cases these sites do not tell what type of art the institution focuses on. If a non-scholar is trying to find an exhibit in the Washington, D.C. they can use the website Evenetbrite. Eventbrite is helpful because it can show you current art exhibits in Washington, D.C. but it only focuses on current events, includes thousands of other events such as concerts or sporting events that a user may have to shift through, and does not provide users with additional scholarly reading about the exhibit or the artist in the exhibit. These features are important for my site because the purpose of this website is not only for non-scholarly users to more easily find art exhibits and scholars to find research material but also to help those people working in museums and galleries to better engage with their visitors.    With each exhibition description there is space for users to add comments or post to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. For museums and galleries this could be a great space to gather feedback on an exhibit. Allowing users to link the exhibition information through their social media accounts can help spread the news about an upcoming exhibit or provide the visitor with information about the show before they see it. This also gives smaller art institutions exhibitions more exposure. In the edited collection Digital Technologies and the Museum Experience Peter Samis writes an essay titled “Exploded Museum” where he argues that integrating technology into exhibitions is important both for scholars and non-scholars. He states:

 

“The promise of these new technologies, then, is dual: if they can be made effortless and transparent enough, they can help art ideas to penetrate more effortlessly into visitor’s lives, to aid visitors in processing and digesting these ideas and images in their own personal terms. Conversely, new technologies can also open museums to the multiplicity of meanings that our objects trigger in the community of views—meaning we haven’t yet dreamed of and which stand to be richer and far more diverse than the art historical discourse that is our stock-in-trade.”[1]

 

I think Samis’ point about creating a more diverse art historical discourse by including visitor’s perspective is something to be more seriously considered by scholars. By exploring the visitor’s perspective from their social media account or website reviews one can see the power an art institution has to create knowledge, or not.

In order to engage both a scholarly and non-scholarly audience this website needs to not only have valuable art historical information and resources; it also needs to be well designed. This was the most difficult part of creating this website. I reorganized my data in about a hundred different ways until I came to the point I am at now. The reason I kept reworking my data is because I wanted my site to be easily navigated and I felt like the only way I could do that was to keep trying it out on my friends and siblings to see how it was being used. To be honest I’m still not sure if the layout that I have right now is the best option, but I do think that a person could use the website without me telling them what to do. Yet, like I said to get to this point I did a lot to changing and reorganizing.

In my original plan I stated I wanted to build this website on Omeka, however as I began to think more about my project and audience I reconsidered this application. My understanding of Omeka is that it is for organizing items into collections and exhibitions online. This was difficult for me to work in for my website because my “items” were exhibitions and artists, the art institutions were “exhibits”, and the years were “collection”. Ignoring the mixed up naming system, this was hard for me because there were multiple “items” (exhibits) that lasted more than one year and a collection only allows an item to appear in one collection.

Although Omeka was not workable for me, throughout the course of this semester I saw some really great websites built on Omeka, such as Histories of the National Mall. This site guided the organization of my site into its three search options, “Museums and Galleries”, “Location”, and “Artist”. I decided to use WordPress because it allowed me use a plug-in to make exhibitions into events. These events could then be added to any page, as many times as I wanted. My website needs to stay updated on when exhibitions begin and start throughout the year. The plug-in I ended up using to organize exhibitions on a calendar was Time.ly. I thought using a plug-in like this would make it easy to maintain the site in the future and if I wanted to pay the extra $30 I can important a CSV of my events. Since most art institutions have their exhibitions planned years in advance, if I want to continue with this project I could gather their exhibitions lists for the upcoming year put them all on the calendar at one time and then just monitor the site until the following year. I also added Time.ly as a widget to my sidebar so users could quickly view current exhibitions.

In addition to being easily navigated a well designed website also has to be visually appealing to your audience. Doing personas for our project helped me not only decided who my target audience would be, but also how to visually appeal to them. From my personas, I came to the conclusion that the majority of the people using my site were going to be very familiar with the Internet and would have been exposed to contemporary visual designs. With this in mind, I found it important to choose a theme that was not overused or outdated. I probably spent more time on visual appearance of my website than most people, but I thought that since I was using this website to provide current information, my website can have an immediate validity if my visual design is contemporary. However, I understand that this idea could work the opposite way for some scholars, but since this website is targeted to a non-scholarly audience and a scholar audience that is very comfortable with the Internet, visual design carried more weight.

Although I was able to figure out an easy way to easily maintain my website in the future, another obstacle that I face is how to get people to visit and use my website. I think creating a Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook account for the website might be a one answer to this problem. On these accounts I could make posts about an upcoming exhibition or share published reviews. I could also create post that share past exhibitions by doing the cliché “on this day in 19??”. Another solution to this problem could be to reach out to the art galleries and museums I have on my website. I could ask them if they wanted to contribute any information, make a guest post about one of their exhibits, or ask them to mention me on their social media accounts.

Ideally, I would like this website to cover all the art museums and galleries in United States. I think the history of exhibition themes in a particular area or during a specific time period is an understudied and interesting topic in art history or other fields. In 2010 Erika Doss wrote the book Memorial Mania were she argues that memorials show Americans’ obsession with memory and history and the need to publicly promote these issues. She also explores the political and personal agendas that drove and still drives “memorial mania”. I think similar research into exhibitions in the United States would present new perspectives on museums and the effects of their exhibits. For example, from 1942-1945 the National Gallery of Art had 4 shows exhibition artwork by members of the United States Military and 12 exhibitions on the topic of war. This is unusual in an art museum and could bring up some interesting questions. Did they do this because they were just opening and did not have a strong collection? What was visitors’ response? Was there a change in the museum field and these types of exhibitions were moved to military museums? Do any museums today show either these works together or new works on this topic?

Again, in addition to prompting interesting scholarly research this website is also useful for a non-scholarly audience simply because it makes them aware of art exhibits without having to check twenty different websites. Connecting with visitors and giving them an opinion in art exhibitions may not seem like academic work for some art history scholars, but if we ignore their voices and rely on only scholarly published art reviews we create silences in the future academic field.

[1] Peter Samis. “The Exploded Museum.” in Digital Technologies and the Museum Experience. Ed. Loic Tallon and Kevin Walker. (United Kingdom: AltaMira Press, 2008), 13.

 

Final Thoughts

            After taking this class I feel like I have learned a great deal more about digital scholarship in the humanities and how to create. Honestly, it was tough at first because I came into the class with no real idea as to what digital history was or could be.   My head was spinning after week 9, but now looking back at my blog post I noticed that the confusions I had when I wrote them is now gone. I can credit this to a few things my classmates’ blogs, class discussions, and the realization that this is a relatively new field/method (I still haven’t made up my mind on this) and that because of this is going to be confusion, but there is also excitement and people eager to help you along.

Reflection of Materials and Activities for Week 13

I’m very happy we were assigned Joan Fragaszy Troyano’s article “Discovering Scholarship on the Open Web: Communities and Methods” because it will be an article that I will consistently refer to moving forward in my academic career.  Not only did this article point me towards already established academic communities online, its rubric helped me understand how to evaluate digital work I found on my own.  I think that being able to evaluate digital work is a skill that will be necessary for me in the future, and is a skill that is just as important as being able to summarize arguments and main points in a printed article or book.

In order to evaluate digital works in history and art history I think we must also understand their current weaknesses.  Dan Cohen’s article “The Idols of Scholarly Publishing” focus about three issues with digital works (1) transparency of editorial process (2) proving validity (3) sustainability of project.  I think these three issues have been talked about in many of our classes already and are also issues I have experience in creating my own digital work.

Scholarly communicates is a very broad topic and when thinking about my approach to it I feel like a hypocrite.  I want my work and research material to be free and easily available for everyone-I don’t mind having a blog or a social media account where I talk about my research and share information I have found.  However, I also want to feel ensured that I will be fairly paid or recognized for producing scholarly work and the American Historians Association’s embargo policy makes me skeptical of this happening.

My understanding of the American Historians Association’s policy for embargoing of PhD dissertations is that they are encouraging history departments and universities to place a six year embargo on online PhD dissertations to give junior scholars an opportunity to produce a book or make changes from their original dissertation.  There was and still is a lot of debate over their position, and this might have been the point for AHA.  It seems to me that the AHA could have taken this position to spark conversations that make current graduate students aware of their possibilities when it comes to publishing their digital work.  At least for me, the blog posts and articles reacting to the AHA embargo policy provided both pros and cons for online and print publishing.

This week’s readings also taught the differences between the processes of publishing an article in a journal and publishing a book.  To be honest I had a very vague idea of these processes and was surprised to learn that the difference effected the perspectives on open-access.  This dawned on me when William Cronon explained “…when asked whether they would always consider publishing an article based on an open-access electronic dissertation, 65.7% of journal editors replied in the affirmative—evidence for what we have long known, which is that this drive toward open access has emanated mainly from the journal-based disciplines. When book publishers were asked the same question, only 9.8% replied in the affirmative.”  After readings Cronon’s article I began to reconsider my approach to open-access.  If open-access books are less likely to be published than open-access articles, will they actually reach more people if they are not open-access?

Project Update

After putting in some more thought on my project and realized that Omeka was not a great outlet for my project.  So I went through some of the other applications on reclaim hosting and thought that Drupal might be a good idea.  I watched some tutorials and checked out some other sites that used Drupal and thought that it the others sites were really great.  However, after I downloaded Drupal and started to work with it I realized I was in over my head.  For one, compared to WordPress I found it more difficult to create and organize my posts and pages.  Also, when I was working with Drupal I felt like I needed to be more tech savvy to create the layout and design I wanted for my site.  Although Drupal was frustrating, I was happy I tried working with it because I feel like I learned what I don’t need or want for my project.  I’m still working with Drupal, trying to figure it out more about it, but I decided to make my project on a WordPress site instead.  It’s not that I don’t think Drupal is bad, I just found that for me translating my project idea into a website was more easily done on WordPress.  Also, maybe if I was working on this project with multiple people Drupal might be more useful.

To make another WordPress site for my project I had to ask Reclaim Hosting and I just want to say they are awesome.  (Not an exaggeration, within 5 minutes someone emailed me back with me step back step instructions.)  All I did was create a subdomain and install WordPress on that, it was really easy.  Currently, I’m working on transferring my data onto my site and figuring out the best way to organize my information so that it can be easily accessed.  Right now, I’m thinking that my final project will consist of a list of all the art galleries and museums in DC with general information about each and then have a full list of exhibitions for 5-10 institutions….hopefully (I tend to be idealistic with my goals sometimes).

Project

Reflection of Materials and Activities Week 11

From this week’s readings I found the essay ““Ways of Seeing: Evidence and Learning in the History Classroom” the most helpful.  I appreciated the authors writing instructively and also reflecting on the issues they had in implementing their different digital methods.  My favorite method was Micheal Coventry “Moving Beyond “the Essay”: Evaluating Historical Analysis and Argument in Multimedia Presentations” and was fascinated at how his students were able to convey historical context through their film’s period style and subjects.

When considering a lesson plan that would focus on one historical thinking skill Kelly Mills article “Teaching History in the Digital Age” made me want to design a lesson plan that first year undergraduate students would find fun (or at least a break from the typical slide lecture and notes).  I think creating a fun lesson plan is most useful for first year undergraduate students because it can make further studies in art history more approachable for students-especially for those who may not have previously considered art history.

Class Lesson
Historical Thinking Skill: Visual Analysis
A visual analysis is a written description of the artwork that should be as detailed as possible and included information such as medium, size, color, and apparent objects and people. Visually analysis are used for developing research questions and also to explain to a reader details that are difficult to see in an image.  When performing a visually analysis it is also important to consider the artworks’ current environment, which involves some traveling.  For some, especially college students, traveling can be difficult due to financial or time constraints.

To teach students how to visually analysis an object and the historical questions that can stem from their visual analysis I will have them visually analyze art from a online virtual tour.  I think using a virtual tour eliminates issues that a field trip presents such as figuring out transportation and costs   Also, I don’t think it would be fair for me to make a field trip mandatory for first year undergraduates, even though visual analysis establishes a critical foundation for art historical thinking.

What we would look at:
Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel is included in all the major art history textbooks, but looking at strictly images of the Sistine Chapel makes it difficult to understand their context.  A virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel can allow students to see the alter, seating, and screens along with the paintings, which could produce questions about the cultural functions of the chapel.  It could also spark them to ask questions about the importance of scale and paintings’ location.

What they need for class:
Laptop

Schedule for Class:
45 minutes: Explain to class what a visual analysis is and provide them with an example
30 minutes: Have each student visit the Sistine Chapel and write a visual analysis of “The Creation of Adam”

When I was thinking about what to center my lesson on I was forced to also consider my process of formulating historical thinking from art.  However, I also realized that a visual analysis is not the only way to think historically about art and that other methods might work better depending on the art object being studied.

Reflection of Materials and Activities for Week 10

The readings this week covered the complex issue of open access (OA) for scholarly publications and museum collections.  Not only do these readings cover the main issues surrounding OA, they also offer a variety of opinions about what “open access” means and how it should be achieved.  For example, for John Willlinsky, author of “The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship”  believes open access is a principle of access, “a commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circula- tion of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit by it.”  However, Peter Suber explains a more explicit standard of open access for journals and archives in “Open Access Overview”.  The reading I found most interesting was Rick Anderson’s blog post “Is a Rational Discussion of Open Access Possible” because it presented an argument that I did not know existed in the debate over open access.  For this week I expected to read about creative property rights, financing online publications, copyright laws, and different open access models, but I was not expecting to read that OA advocates were closed minded.  Was he being overdramatic?

The last reading about The Museum of New Zealand, Te PaPa showed how allowing OA to their collections impacted them.  The Te PaPa Museum released over 45,000 high resolution images in their collection under the Creative Commons attribute and had a positive responses from users and no significant impact in media sales or licensing revenue!  Interestingly I notice in “A Review of a Year of Open Access Images at Te Papa”  that not all of the objects in their collection are available online.  This was due to either third party copyright interests or sensitivity for items associated with or depicting Maori taonga (treasures) or Maori ancestors.  I agree with The Museum of New Zealand Te PaPa decision to not make Maori items available online, but could other OA models challenge that decision?

I’m still not positive about where I stand when it comes to open access.  Right now as a graduate student I think OA to scholarly publishings should be a standard-however I might feel differently if my work was being published.  For my blog and project I’m using the Creative Commons attribute license because I believe as long as I am given credit for my work there is no reason not to share it.

Unfortunately, my wikipedia page edit was not as exciting as I had hoped.  I decided to edit the page about Andy Goldsworthy, an Earthworks artist, on Wednesday and haven’t received any feedback from Wikipedia as of Sunday.  This was my first time editing a Wikipedia page and I had honestly never looked at the “talk” section of a page before.  I found it interesting to read other conversations and see what was added/changed and what wasn’t.

 

Reflection of Materials and Activities for Week 9

For this week’s readings there was a focus on how to use the proper graphs or charts to present your data or argument. Most of the readings would agree that visualizations such as graphs and charts are a great tool for an argument or research, however choosing the correct visualization for your data is essential. The readings gave us many examples of both good and bad visualizations, which was helpful when it came down to me making my own. I found John Theibault’s “Visualizations and Historical Arguments” and Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, and Scott Weingart’ essay “Principles of Information Visualization” very helpful in explaining how to use visualizations as historians. On the other hand, I found Johanna Drucker’s “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display” a little harder to follow because of the language he used but was still able to pull helpful information from his conclusion.

When I used Palladio I used my own data about exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art from 1941-1951.  I formed my graphs in a couple interesting ways, one being by artists and years.  This graph/network showed which artists the NGA frequently exhibited in this time period.  Artists with multiple shows had bigger nodes and it also showed in what years the artist was exhibited.  Also interestingly there were a lot of exhibits that were credited to collectors rather than artists, which was explained by a large node in the center.  Palladio was probably the most useful of the tools for me because it easily visualized a concept (the frequency of artists exhibited in a time period)  that would have been confusing to explain in written form.

Since my project does not contain a lot of text, for Voyant I used a collection of texts by Henry David Thoreau from The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods.  Some of these texts were just general notes, while others were more specific topics such as framing or weaving. Although I did not find Voyant extremely useful for my academic studies right now, I believe it does have applications in scholarly work.

 

 

When it comes to figuring out whether text mining will be useful for your research, you need to just remember the more the better. As Ted Underwood states in he’s blog post “Where to Start with Text Mining”

“So yes, text-mining can provide clues that lead to real insights about a single author or text. But it’s likely that you’ll need a collection of several hundred volumes, for comparison, before those clues become legible.”

One interesting approach to text mining I have seen in my studies was in an Medieval History class in undergrad when on the first day my teacher told all of us to write down 5 words we associated with Medieval history.  The next class she showed us a Wordle of the words or phrases we chose for Medieval history and the term “dark ages” was one of the most repeated. She went on to explain that the idea of the “dark ages” was incorrect and that this class was going to explain why.  Although this was not completely academic it did make me realize how words can create misconceptions about history and reflect ideologies of cultures.

My least favorite Gephi….
I saw some other people struggled with this tool as well so it made me feel better about my experience with it.  It is unfortunate that it took so much time for me to just get it work on my computer because I think its a can produce great visualizations–but I’m not sure if it was worth the hassle.

 

Reflection of Materials and Activities for Week 8

StoryMap

I really enjoyed working on this weeks mapping activities! (And judging by the evil eyes my dog is currently giving me, maybe I enjoyed them too much.)  My hands down favorite website was StoryMap.  For this activity I focused on one exhibition recently shown at the National Gallery of Art, titled “Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye”.  For this StoryMap I located all the different museums the NGA loaned paintings from to organize this exhibit.  Most of the time we gloss right over this information when we see it on the painting’s text label in the museum, but I do think that this information can change how we think about space in a museum.

CartoDB

For my projects purposes CartoDB was extremely useful in locating all of the art museums and galleries in Washington, D.C.  However, it did take me a while to get all 44 buildings at there correct locations on the map but it was well worth the effort.

Georeferencer

David Rumsey’s Georeferencer is a great tool for finding the location of places that have been renamed or relocated, but for my project that is not very useful.  However, I did find his map collection to be amazing and it was interesting to see how the organization of land has changed over time.  I could not think of a Ramsey Map relevant to my project, but I did find one relevant to other work I am doing.  Maybe if he had building layouts of museums I could have used those  to designate specific exhibits inside a museum.  I thought that Georeferncer was a fairly easy tool to figure out.  The clipping tool was very similar to Photoshops magic wand and made it easy to manipulate the area that you wanted.  His short informational video was helpful.

TimelineJS

For the Timeline JS I choose to pick an art institution from my project and create a timeline for their exhibition history.  To be honest, this is not the most exciting one.  I think once I gather all the exhibitions for a large institution such as the National Portrait Gallery or National Gallery of Art the viewer may see more interesting trends in exhibitions.

Reflection of Materials and Activities for Week 7

Honestly, I am still a little confused by this weeks readings about data.  For me the word, data, has a variety of different meanings and I find it difficult to understand what people are referring to when they use the term.  The first reading, “Defining Data for Humanists: Text, Artifact, Information or Evidence?” further complicated my confusion by explaining that data can be any information artificially created.  I did find that Miriam Posner’s article “Humanities Data: A Necessary Contradiction” did a good job of explaining what data is and how it is used with her analogy to silent films and student examples.

I was a little confused over cleaning data too, and I am not completely confident that I did it correctly.  I thought that the videos and articles were good resources because they did not use technical jargon or make assumptions about their audiences knowledge, however I am not sure if my idea for my data makes sense.  Going forward anyways, I think my data would work best in Geonames or also possibly Digital Public Library of America API.

Data

Project Proposal

Link to Proposal:

Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

 

List of Participants

Project Director

Ashley Christie

George Mason University
MA Art History Student
Email: achris19@masonlive.gmu.edu

 

Art Museums and Galleries

(See Appendix A for complete list)

Aaron Gallery
Addison Ripley Fine Art
Adamson Gallery
Alex Gallery
American Painting
American University Museum
Art Museum of the Americas
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Burton Marinkovich Fine Art
Civilian Art Projects
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Daughter of the American Revolution Museum
Dumbarton House
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
Foundry Gallery
Freer Gallery of Art
General Federation of Women’s Clubs Headquarters
Geographic Museum
George Washington University Art Galleries
Georgetown University Art Galleries
Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens
Hillyer Art Space Marsha Mateyka Gallery
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Howard University Gallery of Art

Abstract

A recent report by the Institute of Museum and Library Services found that there are 35,144 museums in the United States.[1] With the number of museums still increasing, it is becoming more important for museums to connect with their audiences. Recently, museums have incorporated new methods such as digitized collections, digital humanities projects, and social media to reach out to audiences. However, I believe there is still a gap between museums and their audiences. The digital humanities project, Exhibit Finder, can fill this gap by making museums’ exhibitions easily accessible to audiences. Exhibit Finder will be a website for both scholars and non-scholars to find past, current, and upcoming exhibitions. This project aids scholars in their research of specific art institutions or exhibitions and easily connects non-scholars to art institutions they may not have known otherwise.

Narrative

As stated earlier, there are over 35,000 museums and historical institutions in the United States, which doubles the number of museums in the 1990s.[2] Taking on all 35,144 museums and their exhibitions for a Level II Digital Humanities Start-Up grant is not realistic but narrowing the focus to a specific type of museum in a designated area does. For this reason the project Exhibit Finder proposes to narrow the focus to art museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C has approximately 50 art museums and galleries t variation of art institutions, therefore providing an appropriate prototype.

Enhancing the Humanities Through Innovation

The main aim of Exhibit Finder is to provide an easy method for finding past, current, and future art exhibitions in Washington D.C. Users can use their location, dates, or interests, such as contemporary art, to filter through the exhibits. Exhibit Finder can be useful to a wide-ranging audience. A scholar can use exhibition for research on a specific artist or art movement, a tourist can use it to plan visits to museums, and an art enthusiast can use it to stay up to date on art shows. Currently, in order for people to find out what is being exhibited at a museum or gallery people must either visit a specific museum or galleries’ website, do a “Google” search, or find a local newspaper. This is problematic for a few reasons. For one, it implies that the people know all the different museums and galleries in the area. Also, if they do not know art institutions in the D.C. area a “Google” search will only provide them with the most art institutions in the area. Local newspapers and magazines are a good source for finding exhibitions but some can be costly and not as easily available as a computer or tablet. By exposing a wide-ranging audience to exhibits in Washington, D.C. through a user friendly website Exhibit Finder can connect people to museums, galleries, art, and/or artist they may not have been exposed to previously.

Exhibit Finder can be used by a variety of different age groups, and for both scholarly and non-scholarly purposes. For example, for art historians Exhibit Finder can provide insight into the history of art institutions in the D.C. area or help them locate the areas certain art movements were exhibited. Art historians can also use this information for a historiography or critique of a specific museum. Additionally, because Exhibit Finder is an open source website where users can freely share information scholars and museum professionals can gather reactions to exhibitions, which could aide them in future projects.

Environmental Scan

The reason the project Exhibit Finder focuses on exhibitions is because there are multiple websites that list all of the museums and galleries in Washington, D.C and across the United States, however none of them provide information about their exhibitions. We believe it is important to publish exhibitions because many of the users for this site will be from the general public and trying to visit a museum that will show them something they want to see currently

Wikipedia is a good example of a website that provides a simplified list for museums in Washington, D.C.[3] On their page “List of Museums in Washington, D.C. they provide a chart of approximately 90 museums in Washington, D.C. They also include an image of the museum, what type of museum it is, a brief description of the museum, and the museum’s website when applicable.

Also, the Omeka site US Museum Explorer provides a great list of museums around the United States.[4] US Museum Explorer takes its list further than Wikipedia by including a description of the museums if applicable and the option for users to use their location to find a museum near them. Both of these website educate users about smaller institutions but it directs them to the institutions websites to learn about their exhibitions.

There are a few websites and online sources that have published a list of new exhibitions openings. For example, the Washington Post’s website published an article “Summer 2015 Preview: D.C. Museum Exhibits Not to Miss”[5] and About.com published “Washington DC Museum Guide: Fall 2015/Winter 2016”. These sites have detailed descriptions of exhibits showing in Washington D.C. and are good resources for finding exhibits. The problem with these online essays are that they only included exhibits in popular museums, the majority of them being Smithsonian Museums.

Local newspapers and magazines were the best source for finding museums and current exhibitions in Washington, D.C. For example each month the magazine Modern Luxury: DC designates two pages current and upcoming exhibitions at both large museums and small art galleries. This is a great resource for art institutions to connect with there audiences however it does present some problems. For one, to see this information in print or online you have to buy a subscription. Secondly, because this is produced and shared around the D.C area, people from other parts of the United States or the world may not be exposed to the publication.

History and Duration of the Project

Prior to this project general information about museums in Washington D.C. was collected. The first five months of the project are dedicated to producing more information about art institutions in Washington D.C such as location, exhibition list, and institution history. Not every art institution was able to provide a list of exhibitions a year in advance, therefore researchers and project manager will be staying in touch with these places throughout the project.

Work Plan
Work Period: 16 months
Phase One: Research (November-May)

  • Researchers will compile complete list of art museums and galleries in Washington, D.C
  • Researchers will connect with each institution and obtain dates of past, current, and future exhibits
  • Project Director will visit each institution to learn or confirm location
  • Researchers and Project Director will meet to create excel sheet that includes each institutions’ location, exhibit dates, current website, background information on museum and each exhibit

Phase Two: Input Data (June-December)

  • Transfer information from Phase One onto Omeka site
  • Programmer will install Geolocation Plug In and input location of each art institution into Geoloation Plug In

Phase Three: Test (January-March)

  • Gather a diverse group volunteers to use website on a variety of different technologies (desktops, laptops, and tablets)
  • Review results and plan for changes from volunteers feedback 

Staff

Project Director:

Ashley Christie

The responsibilities of the project director is to collet data from all art institutions, organize meetings with other staff members, consistently communicate status of project to staff members, and maintain set timeline.

Researchers:

(search in progress)
There will be five researchers for this project funded by NEH. Ideally, they would be Art History or History undergraduate or graduate students living in the Washington, D.C. area. Each will be responsible for collecting exhibition information for approximately 10 art institutions. They will also assist in inputting the metadata for the exhibitions they researched.

Software Programmer:
(search in progress)

There will be one software programmer who will advise and assist the project director with designing the Omeka website. This person will responsible for inputting metadata, installing plug-ins, and uploading images.

Final Product and Dissemination

The final product will be an open source website where scholars and non-scholars can find information on past, present, and future art exhibitions in the Washington, D.C. Users are encouraged to write reviews or “like” the exhibits, however the project director will monitor their comments. Tutorials and presentations of this website will be presented to universities, community centers, and art institutions in the Washington, D.C. area. The website will also be promote on the social media outlets of participating art institutions, staff members, and volunteers.

Data Management Plan

The project director will oversee the collecting of data on approximately 40 art museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. This information can be accessed for free by the public and will include dates and short description of the institutions exhibits along with a description of the institution itself. The project team will use Dublin Core as its metadata standard.

 Appendices

Appendix A

Aaron Gallery
Addison Ripley Fine Art
Admason Gallery
Alex Gallery
American Painting
American University Museum
Art Museum of the Americas
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Burton Marinkovich Fine Art
Civilian Art Projects
Corcoran Gallery of Art
Daughter of the American Revolution Museum
Dumbarton House
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
Foundry Gallery
Freer Gallery of Art
General Federation of Women’s Clubs Headquarters
Geographic Museum
George Washington University Art Galleries
Georgetown University Art Galleries
Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens
Hillyer Art Space Marsha Mateyka Gallery
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Howard University Gallery of Art
Kreeger Museum
Library of Congress
Meridian International Center
National Building Museum
National Gallery of Art
National Museum of African Art
National Museum of American Indian
National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Portrait Gallery
O Street Museum Foundation
Phillips Collection
Q Street Fine Art
Renwick Gallery
S. Dillion Ripley Center
Salve Regina Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Studio Gallery
Swann Street Gallery
Textile Museum
The Wilderness Society Gallery
Toolbox Gallery
Tudor Place
Washington Printmakers Gallery

[1] https://www.imls.gov/research-evaluation/data-collection/museum-universe-data-file

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_museums_in_Washington,_D.C.

[4] http://museums.hackingthehumanities.org/about

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2015/06/04/summer-2015-preview-d-c-museum-exhibits-not-to-miss/

 

Reflection of Materials and Activities for Week 5

This weeks readings provided information about how scholars and institutions can use the internet for more than just making digital history.  As many of these articles point out, there is a difference between digital history and digital public history, and that difference lies in the opportunity for audiences to engage with the digital work.  Audience engagement can be achieved through many different methods however what is most important in audience engagement is that it increases the knowledge of the user and  the digital public work.  Therefore as  Mia Ridge points out in her article “Digital Participation, Engagement, and Crowdsourcing In Museums” “digital strategies should be embedded within a wider public engagement strategy, and decisions about audiences and goals should always come before decisions about technology.”   Mia Ridge suggested the method of crowdsourcing to could be one avenue for engaging your audience, but that is just one of the many options digital public histories have.  So how do you choose the right one?

The articles by Shlomo Goltz and Darren Milligan suggested creating personas for your digital public project because it “enables the designer to focus on a manageable and memorable cast of characters, instead of focusing on thousands of individuals.”  According to Goltz a persona is not a specific person, but a way to model research about real individuals.  Goltz puts forward a step by step process of how to create a persona for your digital work, but it was easier said then done.  After reading Goltz and Klein’s essays and creating my own personas it made me wonder if creating a persona was useful for every digital public project? 

Laura Klien answered my question in her article “The Right Way to Do Lean Research” where she suggests recording interviews with a targeted user.  She found that by recording an interview the interviewee could focus on asking good questions and afterwards that interview could be shared with others.  By sharing the interview with other people you are able to pull out to different ideas from one interview.

I think using these methods to target an audience and also have the ability to control what is published by your audience can ease some of the concerns those in the museum field may have over content control.  However, this brings up the larger question of should content control really be a concern for museums?  As Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World argues “true interaction, by contrast, requires an exchange of some sort, a reciprocity that creates new knowledge and insights” which the previous museum model did not achieve.   I agruee that today “the world of learning research that knowledge-generation is complex, is socially situated and learner-centered, and requires interaction, conversation, and reflection” and that museum officials cannot be the only one creating historical narratives.

Persona 1

Name: Megan
Background: Megan lives in Washington, D.C. and enjoys going to museums in her free time.  She likes to visit new museums and new exhibitions and will check the museum’s website to see what new exhibitions are on show.
Computer Skills: Megan is a 24 year old who is very comfortable using the internet for work and life.  In her job she emails frequently and her iPhone is full apps.  She frequently uses social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Megan also sometimes checks lifestyle blogs.

Persona 2

Name: John
Background: John is an art history professor at Ohio State University.  He is doing research on a traveling exhibition that was shown at the National Gallery of Art in 1998.
Computer Skills:  John is 53 years old who uses his computer for work and personal.  For work he uses the Microsoft Office suite, emails, and research.  Personally he uses his computer for things such as paying bills and fantasy football.  John has a Samsung Galaxy which he uses for calls, texts, emails, and driving directions.

Persona 3
Name: Rut
Background: Rut and his wife and their 3 kids will be visiting Washington D.C in a few weeks.  They want to visit a few museums while they are there and want to know what the museums will offer so that there kids will enjoy themselves.  Sam and his wife are in there mid-30s and use their computers for work and personal.  They often use Yelp and customer reviews to make decisions on purchase and travel plans.