Non-profit Art Venues' Online Exhibits Research and Advocacy Project


(above:  Peter Alexander Healy,  William Wilson Corcoran, 1884, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.  Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.* Corcoran was the founder of the Corcoran Collection in Washington D.C.)



TFAO advocates that museums place -- and archive -- as much exhibit information as possible in online postings. 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 information to an exhibit page when new information becomes available. However, 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 post and archive full exhibit information on their websites.


Letters to museums advocating rich content in exhibit descriptions 


Imagine the satisfaction you could experience if you knew you were helping countless others get the enjoyment you receive from your knowledge and understanding of American art. It wouldn't require money, just a small amount of enjoyable effort.

TFAO has identified certain museums from A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with the tag: "limited descriptions of past exhibits." TFAO invites individuals to send private advocacy letters by email to these tagged museums. Sending one letter is enough for each volunteer although more letters are welcome.


Who should volunteer?


Artists, authors, students and other art-loving individuals may volunteer.

Satisfaction will be found in helping educators and institutions better serve their publics.

Acknowledgment of service hours will be provided to students.


Processing steps


To avoid duplication of effort, TFAO and each volunteer should agree up front on each institution the volunteer will contact. We recommend that volunteers only use email addresses publicly posted in museum websites in preparing letters.


Choosing an addressee


We suggest:

1. If there is an executive director or gallery director: name, title, institution name and email address available on the contacts page for museum, copy and paste the name, title and institution name at the top of the letter, with the salutation Dear Ms./Mr. (name).
2. If there isn't an email address available for the leader, but there's information available for the curator, that's the second choice.
3. If none of these choices are available, a final choice can be the general mailbox address and the salutation "Hello:"


(above:  William Leigh, The Hold Up (The Ambush), 1903, oil on canvas, Sid Richardson Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


The letter


A volunteer may wish create a unique letter or modify a sample letter. For sample lettters, please click here.

We suggest these steps:

1. Select a museum tagged "limited descriptions of past exhibits, go to the museum site, study the site and find the best email address.

2. Ceate an email letter.

3. Add a bcc to and send the email.


1. TFAO records each sent email through a tag after the museum name saying: "(date of letter) rich content letter." This will signify that the museum need not be reached by another person.

2. TFAO deletes the bcc copy after the above step. Volunteers will not be publicly acknowledged on TFAO's website, nor will their personally-identifying information be shared with other organizations. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.


For information about other parts of this project please click here.


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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.

*Tag for expired US copyright of object image:


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