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Resources for Digital Humanities: Online Exhibitions

Vocabulary, tools, advice, and library resources to start your Digital Humanities project or research.


Online Exhibitions

An online exhibition, like a physical exhibition, usually involves the curated presentation of archival materials. These might include digital images of traditional exhibition objects, such as scans of letters or photographs of paintings, but they might also include digital media, such as sound files or videos.

Online exhibitions can be more flexible than physical exhibitions, as they can bring together objects that might not be loaned to a physical exhibition, display objects that would otherwise not be shown due to conservation concerns or physical constraints, and incorporate elements of interaction and multimedia that are more complicated in a physical exhibition space.

However, online exhibitions also introduce additional rights questions when you're publishing materials on the web, and require web hosting and maintenance.

Key concerns in making online exhibitions include:

  • How can you secure rights to publish these materials, or these images of them? Who might you want to ask about or involve in your project before you start?
  • Are there ways making this exhibition online can enliven or activate your materials? Is there something you could make interactive, media you could incorporate, or even just links or annotations you can offer your users?
  • What is your plan for hosting and maintaining your online exhibition? Are you planning to keep it up indefinitely, or display it for a limited time? If you're working with a collecting institution (a library, a museum, etc.), they may be able to help you answer these questions, especially if you ask early on in the process.


Berenson and Harvard: Bernard and Mary as Students

This biographical exhibition of Bernard and Mary Berenson, art historians and collectors, includes archival documents and photographs related to their time at Harvard University.

Chugachmiut Heritage Library and Archive

The Chugachmiut Heritage Library and Archive is a digital archive of cultural heritage from Native tribes in the Chugach region built using Mukurtu. Some materials are publicly available, while others are available only to authenticated users.

Tools and Platforms

There are a variety of tools you can use to help you in building online exhibitions. These include:

  • Omeka Classic is free to download and simple to use, though the projects you generate will need separate web hosting
  • is simple to use and also includes hosting for a fee
  • All the Omeka tools are designed specifically for making high-quality online exhibitions, with features including (but not limited to):
    • Standardized metadata (Dublin Core)
    • Curated exhibition pages
    • "Browse" pages
  • Some configurations also support features such as audience contribution and image annotation
  • Yale faculty, students, or staff interested in creating an Omeka project with Yale University Library materials can apply to the Online Exhibition Committee, who may be able to help with and host your project
  • Wax is free to download, and although it requires separate web hosting, is designed to require fewer resources to host and view
  • Wax does require technical knowledge, including use of the command line and web development skills
  • Like Omeka, Wax can host curated exhibition pages and "browse" pages
  • ArcGIS StoryMaps is free for Yale affiliates with active CAS logins, who can access StoryMaps by logging into the Yale University ArcGIS Online platform
  • While StoryMaps is especially intended for narrative mapping projects, it can also work to generate scroll-through multimedia exhibitions
  • StoryMaps work best for multimedia exhibitions where the emphasis is on a single narrative that moves through the exhibited objects in a predictable manner, and metadata is not a primary concern
  • GIS Support Services at Yale offer trainings and consultations, including for StoryMaps
  • Mukurtu, like Omeka Classic, is free to download and simple to use, though it requires separate web hosting
  • Mukurtu is a specialized tool for Native and Indigenous communities to share cultural heritage, and accordingly it supports:
    • Controlled access to cultural heritage objects and narratives based on cultural protocols, including gender and seasonal restrictions
    • The generation of multiple records for a given digital heritage entry, to support multiple perspectives or communities in addressing the same object or narrative
  • Murkutu works best for projects that are led or co-led by the knowledge-keepers and -generators of the communities whose cultural heritage they exhibit

Contact Us

For help with any stage of a digital humanities project, with any of the methods described here, or with any other questions, feel free to reach out or book a consultation with the DHLab.