Beyond the Museum: Developing Online Art Exhibitions


Image 1: The present-day (2022) model of an online art exhibition in each desktop/laptop and mobile formats.

I stay and do the job in the most geographically isolated spot on Earth. I are not able to complain: it is really Honolulu, Hawaii, blessed with excellent climate, spectacular scenery, and an particularly friendly group. However, I am a curator at the Honolulu Museum of Art, and when I shell out years organizing a big-scale artwork exhibition, it is really annoying to realize that the only persons who can perspective it are those who come about to be on the island through the show’s jogging time. Because the closest city of equivalent size is above 2,500 miles absent, only the most diehard art fans will travel in this article for the express purpose of viewing the exhibit.

Making an on the internet component to the exhibition appears to be like a relatively uncomplicated answer to the challenge. Producing that plan take place, however, is far far more complicated. Around the earlier ten yrs, I have labored on numerous jobs of this sort, and the requirements of coding languages have developed so immediately that within just 5 or 6 several years all of those web pages have turn out to be obsolete and inaccessible. When a user tries to take a look at them at present, he or she is greeted by an ominous warning that his or her product is in risk of acquiring hacked. (Picture 2)

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Impression 2: An mistake message stating that a site is inaccessible due to security violations.

Another challenge with these web-sites, which include obtained platforms these kinds of as WordPress, is that, even if a person were ready to accessibility them, based upon which unit he or she made use of to watch them, they usually turn into terribly distorted. For example, if someone ended up to go to the website that I constructed in 2015 and viewed the cell-welcoming edition on a notebook or a desktop, the title of the web-site, which was composed in textual content with minimal scalability, fell into misalignment (Image 3, remaining). When the exact same version of the internet site was loaded on to a pill, the site was unable to change to the proportions of the device, producing the contents to fill only the upper two-thirds of the monitor (Picture 3, suitable).

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Impression 3: An early cell version of the over web page manufactured with PHP, HTML5, and JavaScript in 2015. The web site is currently being shown on a MacBook Air (still left) and a Galaxy Fold 2 (suitable).

In 2016, I finally made the decision that, in order to attain the layout I wished no matter of what device the viewer applied, I desired to design and style the on the net exhibition as an e-guide with just about every webpage preserved as a static graphic. The outcomes have been certainly an improvement, but now I was confronted by a wholly distinctive established of complications. Because the website was essentially a assortment of static PDF data files, I couldn’t scroll the textual content, and so I needed to cram all of it onto the site. As a final result, I typically desired to shrink the measurement of the artwork so considerably that its details became extremely hard to see. The resulting site seemed dreadfully textual content-significant and unexciting (Picture 4).

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Picture 4: The previously mentioned web-site redesigned in 2016 as an e-e book. Snore!

When the Covid pandemic started, several initiatives that I experienced been operating on till then came to a screeching halt, and I observed myself equipped to reconsider this e-book design thought. Inside of a couple of months, I was able to arrive at a rendition of the e-ebook that resolves several if not all of the past complications.

To begin with, I realized that I needed to build at least two separate but interconnected web sites: just one for mobile products and an additional for desktops and laptops. Fairly than directing the user to a single of these two quickly employing JavaScript, I made the decision to get started with a cellular-welcoming landing web page that introduced a glimpse of just about every website and authorized the user to pick one particular (Graphic 5, left).

The mobile model of the main internet site (Image 5, center and correct) is divided into four distinct rows: the internet site title, the image viewer, the text viewer, and the internet site menu. The HoMA (Honolulu Museum of Art) icon in the upper left corner of the web page title is a button that hyperlinks to the landing website page, supplying the person the possibility to swap back again and forth in between the two formats. The image viewer can take care of videos as very well as photographs, but fairly than embed a movie into the web site, which would make the web site heavier and extra hard to load, I resolved alternatively to merely article an graphic that inbound links to a page on YouTube. Simply because the person desires an space to swipe-right or swipe-remaining and therefore navigate through the web site, all other visuals I posted in this viewer had been cost-free of hyperlinks. If the person wants to see the image in higher depth, he or she can just enlarge the picture manually with two fingers.

The textual content viewer is scrollable, so it can conveniently accommodate substantial captions. The menu buttons on the bottom row of the web site are linked to the beginning of unique chapters in just the website. When the person enters a new chapter, the colour of the buttons shift accordingly. In the lower appropriate corner of the website seems a discrete page counter.

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Picture 5: The landing webpage of the earlier mentioned site in its 2022 e-e book structure (remaining) and two web pages from the 2022 e-ebook cellular edition (middle and ideal).

The desktop/notebook variation of the web-site (Graphic 6) is sized at 1280 x 720 pixels, but due to the fact a page expands or contracts to fill the browser, it appear equivalent on screens with unique resolutions. Obviously, the format of this edition is a bit different than the cellular internet site. The image continue to occupies approximately a little bit additional than one quarter of the full display, as does the text viewer. The impression contains a hyperlink, and clicking on the image opens a huge model of the photograph in a new browser window. Since most laptop computer and desktop computers do not contain touch-sensitive screens, navigation controls (“former page” and “upcoming website page” buttons) are included under the text viewer. The menu buttons and website page counter are organized in a one line together the bottom of the screen.

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Impression 6: A site from the 2022 e-guide desktop/notebook edition.

Just as the image viewer can be applied to direct users to videos on YouTube, it can also be made use of to current hyperlinks to PDF data files saved in a location such as Google Push or Dropbox (Image 7),…

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Impression 7: The e-book features an graphic that backlinks to a downloadable PDF document.

…hyperlinks to other internet sites, which pop up in a new browser window (Picture 8),…

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Graphic 8: The text of the e-guide can include hyperlinks to exterior websites.

…and backlinks to other web pages inside the web-site by itself (Picture 9).

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Impression 9: The textual content of the e-guide can also include hyperlinks to specific webpages in just the doc.

The web-site was made as an ePub documents with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe inDesign. They were posted on the Adobe inDesign site, which is no cost to Adobe CC subscribers. The only evident trouble with these types of a set up is that each and every internet site ends up with a weird url handle created of random letters and figures. I was able to make a additional memorable shortcut with the on-line app The url deal with for this on the net art exhibition is

Be sure to go to the site and enable me know your views! In the around future, I hope to create very similar e-guides that emphasis on other exhibitions that I have curated at the Honolulu Museum of Artwork.


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