According to Pew Research, in recent years, the overall number of visitors to physical museums has been falling, and the museum-going population that visits physical museums is aging. Yet, at the same time, the number of online visits to these institutions is rising especially with mobile devices. This trend is not only true for museums—social media, magazines, blogs, online shopping, entertainment, sports, and encyclopedias are also blossoming online. Likewise, the experience of museums and gallery exhibits can be made available so that, anywhere and at any time, you can access the exhibits. This trend is the primary reason that I am proposing to develop a website and online exhibit for Exodus Galleries. Computers, mobile devices and their user interfaces are still evolving, but I propose to adapt our exhibits for the future, so that anyone can carry Exodus Gallery’s messages and exhibits in their pocket.
Websites and online exhibits can reach many visitors, with a good chance of having a substantial impact. Time, geography, accessibility and cost constraints prevent many potential visitors from attending physical exhibitions; with online exhibits these limitations disappear. Anyone with Internet access can tap into an online exhibit, whenever and wherever it’s convenient. An online exhibit enables the visitor to have a personal experience, taking their time to browse the content and use interactive features. They aren’t harried by other visitors or docents, and don’t feel the need to “see it all” in one visit. Unlike a physical museum—which may charge admission or parking fees, has set hours of operation, and requires a special effort to visit—an online exhibit is free of charge and open 24/7, every day of the year. Since online exhibits are accessible from home or school, visitors have convenient, immediate, and repeated access.
Online exhibits engage visitors from various walks of life and with multiple viewing objectives and styles. They can be highly engaging, with a mix of thought-provoking writing and multimedia. Like a physical museum, online exhibits present a perspective that’s a step back from headline-driven news and fast-paced television shows. Exodus’ online exhibits will be incorporated into the website, but the exhibits will stand apart in how the specific historical content is framed. Just as in a physical museum, the context provided by an exhibit’s curator is central to visitors’ online experiences. Without this context, the presentation is nothing more than a catalog of images and documents. In other words, it’s an archive, not an exhibit. It’s the process of curating and interpreting—in choosing which objects to show, in what order they’re presented, and by which other objects they’re surrounded—that will help the viewer learn something new, put the information in context, makes sense of it, based on what the viewer already knows and promote discovery. So, my role as the curator is crucial in achieving the exhibits narrative, since objects alone rarely tell the whole story.