Faculty Proposal: Digital Tools for Modern Exhibits

*The following project is a mock response to a Faculty request to develop an innovative learning experience for students participating in their studio art class. The goal is to introduce digital tools that can enrich their practise and presentation as visual artists.


Through this project, the goal is to familiarize students with the concept of using digital tools as a solution to exhibiting their work and consider how it can influence their personal practice. Traditionally, studio art courses put a bulk of the focus on creation and theory with little focus even on conventional forms of exhibition and presentation. With an ever-evolving digital landscape that allows for global reach and influence, students should be presented the opportunity to explore alternative methods of sharing their work. With a distinct goal in mind, new tools may offer new avenues of thought during the creation process and enlighten students about digital methods of curation and collection development. Additional emphasis will be placed on the use and benefits of metadata in the context of digital exhibitions. 

The objective will be to introduce some tools early in the semester so that students can begin experimenting and thinking about how they can incorporate them into their art practice. Throughout the term, I can be available to assist with any questions and work with the students to culminate their experimentation into a final, digitally available exhibition of their work. Below is a quick introduction to each key aspect of this plan:

METADATA - Informs the audience about the work, searchability, and provides the opportunity to develop statistics. In a digital environment it will be especially important to consider what characteristics of each individual artwork should be included as descriptive metadata (ie. dimensions, media, time, location, etc) and how that can be used.

*see the class website for a blog post on Metadata. Link below. 

MODERN COLLECTION DEV - As a practicing artist it is important to be aware and have some competency with digital tools for sharing your work. Art does not need to be confined to traditional gallery spaces and new methods of personal collection development can be explored using user-friendly, open-sourced tools. How can these tools complement, transform or open new modes of working within your practice? 

TOOLS TO CREATE MODERN EXHIBITS - Exhibitions promote sharing ideas, stories, and discussion. How can audience interaction enrich the experience within the exhibition? How can using new mediums and extending the audience create more opportunities for your work to have an impact?

Learning Objectives

Instructional Design

This course will emphasize the importance of gaining literacy with digital resources and tools as it will help students disseminate and create art that is wide-reaching and experimental, in contrast to the traditional “white cube” gallery exhibitions. There are many web based tools that are accessible, open source, and well-documented that can act as a conduit to a wider audience and complement their current goals for exhibition. For those working in more traditional forms such as painting or drawing, digital tools can reimagine how they display their work and collaborate with other artists without the logistics of a traditional exhibition. 

Further, for the purpose of collection development, students will be encouraged to explore ways to create a digital portfolio of their work. These tools can be used to develop their portfolio’s and thus streamline grant and exhibition proposals through this modern take on personal collection development. The tools we will explore will allow students to add more context to the work by placing it in virtual galleries or including maps and other information for public works. Additionally, as an artist it is important to be informed to the types of digital tools and trends that curators and collection builders are using in their work.

Re prerequisites: It will be valuable for participating students to have basic computer literacy. Since the tools are all browser based, students with at least some familiarity navigating websites, creating user accounts, uploading documents, and navigating basic tools will have sufficient prior knowledge to begin experimenting in these labs. 

The following tools will be introduced, 


Artsteps provides the ability to create virtual exhibitions. Through this software, students will be able to create a virtual gallery space and then upload images, audio, video and more. This includes the ability to create a walking tour of the space. This tool will be valuable for those who work with any medium and will allow them to share their work, preserve the layout, space, and curatorial decisions in a virtual setting that mimics traditional exhibits. For example, an artist could recreate a gallery they are preparing a proposal for and submit a virtual recreation of the space. Another example is the ability to collaborate with other artists around the world by curating and developing an exhibition that would otherwise be very costly and resource-heavy. 

Metadata is a key component in the process of building an exhibition using this tool. It will show first hand how including metadata is valuable in providing context to the work.

Example projects: EXPOLATINA DE ARTE III - SALON 1, Mostra di Giovanni Melarangelo


Timemapper has the ability to combine text, media, maps, and timelines into a digital exhibit. In terms of public art, there is plenty of potential to organize and document projects with this tool. In this course, a group creating a series of public artworks could map and document their project to act as a guide, making the project accessible to a wider audience, and for preservation.

This tool has a standardized format for design and including metadata is essential to project building.

Example Timemapper project


Interdisciplinary art practice and exhibition is a valuable way to engage the viewer. Many artists choose to include text to enhance the visual, audio and/or other ways of experiencing their work. In modern exhibitions, experimentation should be encouraged with this textual component and Twine has the ability to create simple stories that are interactive and react to certain variables and conditional logic. This can be incorporated as a complimentary text tool in traditional spaces, in virtual environments, or stand alone as a tool for interactive creation. 

Example Twine project

Instructional Sessions & Labs

The process of integrating these tools into the course and the final project will necessitate multiple sessions and the chance for students to experiment throughout the semester so that they have a good grasp on the potential ways they can be used before they begin their final projects. 

In a 12 week semester I suggest 4 lessons @ 2 hours each. These lessons will be integrated into the 5 hour studio sessions already allotted to the course. These lessons should be completed by week 6 of the semester.  

Lesson 1: Introduce the topics and broad concepts of, 

Lesson 2: Brief lecture introducing Artsteps and discussing reading (30 min). Followed by a live lab (1.5 hr). 

Lesson 3: Brief lecture introducing Timemapper and discussing reading (30 min). Followed by a live lab (1.5 hr). 

Lesson 4: Introduction and practical lab for Twine (2 hrs).

Required Readings

DeSpain. (2011). On Building Things: Student-Designed Print and Digital Exhibits in the Book History Class. Transformations (Wayne, N.J.), 22(1), 25–36. https://www.lib.uwo.ca/cgi-bin/ezpauthn.cgi?url=http://search.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/on-building-things-student-designed-print-digital/docview/1001215140/se-2 

This article explores the creation of digital exhibits in a book history class. Its relevance lies in the exploration of experimentation, production, and dissemination of traditionally analog materials in digital forms. 

Hilburger, Langille, D., Nelson, M., Bordini, A., Greenhill, J. A., Dowson, R., & Goddard, L. (2021). Collaborating with GLAM Institutions. Digital Studies, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.16995/dscn.377 

This article reflects on three projects where digital tools were used to develop digital exhibitions by students. Students in this class should take note of the collaboration between faculty, library, and students, the use of descriptive metadata, and the pedagogy of creating digital exhibits. 

Schwartz. (2020). Advocating for digital projects in the arts: UC San Diego Visual Arts and Architecture Digital Collections. Art Libraries Journal, 45(2), 61–67. https://doi.org/10.1017/alj.2020.4

This article looks at the use of digital tools within the UC San Diego Visual Arts and Architecture Digital Collections. It discusses how modern collection development and exhibits should be integrated into the digital environment. 

Infrastructure + Resources

Course website - I will generate and maintain a class website that will host and archive resources, tutorials, blog posts, and other tool information. Additionally, the website can provide a landing page for the final projects so that they can be shared to a wide audience and act as a mode of preservation for the work. 

Computer lab- For the lab sessions we will take advantage of the computer lab within the library. This will allow us to work through the tool introductions collaboratively. 

Tools- Timemapper and Twine are open source resources and thus free to use. Artsteps can be used completely free, but also offers paid services, such as pre designed models, web design, and curation. We will only need the free to use elements of this tool for our objectives. 

Lecture- The initial lecture will be made using Powerpoint. We will need a projector with audio for this presentation.


Class website: https://rrrivando.github.io/artclass/