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 are 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 currently qualify for coverage in Topics in American Art -- the exhibits are 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, are 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, in 2018 TFAO will begin to 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 2018 project, TFAO will identify covered museums at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with "limited descriptions of past exhibits" tags set for follow up in 2018 and 2019 that did not, at the date of the most recent audit, maintain a listing of past exhibits with sufficient information to be included in Topics in American Art.

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: Rich content for exhibition descriptions

Hello,

Could you please direct this letter to those responsible for decisions about educational content placed on your website?

Traditional Fine Arts Organization (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 -- beyond a summary with images -- more information such as 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 will find this information useful many years into the future. We hope that eventually all museums will archive all available exhibit information on their sites.

A recent review of the past exhibitions section of your website suggests that the usual practice is to post a summary description of each exhibit accompanied with one or more images. If there are upcoming plans to add further information for past exhibits, such as some of the items listed above, we would appreciate learning about them.

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."

 

Letters to museums concerning creation of website sections for past exhibits

As another part of the project, TFAO will identify covered museums at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z with "no permanent URLs for exhibits" tags set for follow up in 2018 and 2019 that did not, at the date of the most recent audit, maintain a listing of past exhibits.

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: Adding past exhibit section to website

Hello,

Could you please direct this letter to those responsible for decisions about educational content placed on your website?

Traditional Fine Arts Organization (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 -- beyond a summary with images -- more information such as 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 will find this information useful many years into the future. We hope that eventually all museums will archive all available exhibit information on their sites.

During a recent review of your site, we were unable to find a section listing and describing past exhibitions. Could you please let us know, if you are considering adding that section, an estimate of when it may be added?

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) past exhibits 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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