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




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 at 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.



Equipment, apps and 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. Any laptop/desktop, smart phone or tablet can be used to process letters.

Three apps are used together to compose letters..

1. A "note" app has two notes available, one for the body of the letter and the other with the subject line for ease of letter composition.

2. A browser app has a window initially opened to a page in A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z. The volunteer selects a museum tagged "limited descriptions of past exhibits, goes to the museum site, studies the site and finds the best email address.

3. An email app then creates a new letter through pasting of the letter body (adding a header and salutation) and subject from the note app, along with the chosen email address.

A bcc to is added and the email is then sent.

4. TFAO records each sent email at A-C D-G H-L M-Q R-S T-Z through a new 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.

5. TFAO deletes the bcc 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.


The letter

The subject line may say:

Online future, current and past exhibit information

For choice of 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:"

The body of the letter may say:

For some time I've enjoyed reading about exhibits on your website and those of other venues. It's wonderful to see the diversity of approaches museums take in presenting information.
While postings for your exhibits may 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 and for making physical visitation decisions.
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, plus standard or extended object labels
- Checklists with and without thumbnail images
- Photos of the exhibit's gallery rooms
- Virtual tours
- Using the same URL for future, current and past exhibit postings to provide continuity of identification by individuals who wish to link to them, and for your webmaster's fluid transfer of identical URLs from website sections containing listings for current, future and past exhibits.
Additional materials will provide a valuable resource for researchers, students, educators, curators and others many years into the future. Also, each additional piece of information posted and kept for exhibits will further excite and motivate people to physically visit.
Best regards,

and for the signature line:

your name (no reference to TFAO)

We encourage writers to alter the suggested text if they wish to personalize it. For a sample lettter, please click here.

Letters sent through California Museum

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


Return to Research Projects, Reports and Studies


Search Resource Library

Copyright 2019 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.