Art Museums Past Exhibitions Archive Research Project

 



 

Advocacy

TFAO advocates that museums place -- and keep -- as much information as possible in their website postings of future, current and past exhibits. For each exhibit, information may include images, a description, artist statement, curator statement, plus links to a press release, media coverage, gallery tour or artist interview videos, teacher guide, wall texts, object labels, check list, brochure and more. Students, teachers, curators and others may find this information useful many years into the future.

Many museums create a page for each exhibit which is transferred from the future exhibits section, to the current exhibits section, and finally to the past exhibits section. Some museums add added information to an exhibit page when new information becomes available while the exhibit is on display. 

However, some other museums delete some or all previously posted information once the exhibit has ended. This is unfortunate because little effort is needed to retain the information. We hope that eventually all museums will archive all exhibit information placed on their websites.

 

Past exhibitions

Beginning in 2014, TFAO began studying museum coverage of prior exhibits. Through TFAO's research, if prior exhibits were found for a museum during a museum's "looked back thru" study period stated in the (A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z) Calendar Update Schedule that were not covered in Resource Library's articles and essays -- yet qualified for coverage in Topics in American Art -- the exhibits were entered into the appropriate Topic. Some "looked back thru" study periods state that the review covered the time period from the beginning of a museum's listing of past exhibits to the "looked back thru" study date. Other "looked back thru" study periods are from the date of a prior study period to the most recent period. The "looked back thru" study periods generally end at December, 2016 because starting in 2017 all of a museum's exhibits, based on its study status, were being researched for inclusion in Topics in American Art.

 

Update of present "looked back thru" notations

For museums listed within the (A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z) Calendar Update Schedule with current "looked back thru" tags and without "limited descriptions of past exhibits" or "no permanent URLs for exhibits" tags, TFAO will look back from the date of the last review through 12/16 for openings of exhibits that qualify for inclusion in Topics in American Art. After 12/16, the National Calendar of Art Exhibitions listed all exhibits subject to research and published the resolution of research. 

For "looked back thru" reviews last completed prior to 10/16, TFAO will:

1. check appropriate past exhibits not yet reviewed for topics inclusion against exhibits with Resource Library's articles and essays published through 9/16 for those museums listed in the Art Museum, Gallery and Art Center index;
 
2. for appropriate past exhibits not yet reviewed with no Resource Library articles and essays published through 9/16, check for prior exhibit inclusion in Topics in American Art.

For "looked back thru" reviews last completed 10/16 to 12/16, check only Topics in American Art for exhibits opening after the review.

After the above research is completed, those exhibits that qualify for inclusion in Topics in American Art will be added to the appropriate topic. Each revised National Calendar of Exhibitions entry will say, e.g., "(study date) looked back through 12/16" 

 

Museums without "looked back thru" notations

After the above museums with present "looked back thru" notations are updated, TFAO will study other museums without "limited descriptions of past exhibits" or "no permanent URLs for exhibits" tags. TFAO will study exhibits dating back to the beginning of the past exhibits section of museum websites and add information on qualified exhibits to the appropriate topic within Topics in American Art.

 

Letters to museums concerning rich content in exhibit descriptions

As a part of the project, TFAO will identify covered museums at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with tags such as:

  Audited 4/11/18 next review 5/20 - No permanent URLs for exhibits

  Audited 4/11/18 next review 5/20 - limited descriptions of past exhibits

  Audited 4/11/18 - minimal information on current and future exhibits - review descriptions of past exhibits 5/20 

  Audited 4/11/18 - no information on current and future exhibits - review descriptions of past exhibits 5/20

TFAO will then communicate with listed museums by email an inquiry letter. Email addresses for applicable museum personnel will be contained in the "To:" section of the email. The text of the letter may say:

Subject: Content for online exhibit descriptions
 
Directors and Curators:
 
For years we have enjoyed reviewing content about exhibits you place on your website. It's wonderful to see the diversity of approaches museums take in presenting information.
 
While postings for your exhibits contain some of the motivational, informational and educational elements listed below, please consider adding some additional ones to further benefit your online audience. Especially when more and more people use the internet as the "go to" source for information.
 
Some of these elements are:
 
-- Links to press releases, outside media coverage, other web coverage, and artist websites.
 
-- PDF images of gallery guides, teacher guides, brochures and catalogs
 
-- Artist statements
 
-- Video interviews by curators 
 
-- In-gallery materials including texts from wall panels and object labels
 
-- Checklists with and without thumbnail images
 
-- virtual tours
 
-- Using the same URL for future, current and past exhibit postings to provide continuity of identification by educators who wish to link to them and for fluid transfer of URLs from pages containing listings for current, future and past exhibits.
 
Each additional piece of information you post and keep for exhibits further motivates people to visit. Additional materials also provide a valuable educational resource for those unable to attend, and for researchers. Students, teachers, curators and others find archived information useful many years into the future. 
 
Best regards,

 

After a letter is sent, TFAO tags the museum entry at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with a notation saying: "(date of letter) rich content query letter."

 

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Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.


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