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  • Exhibitions Call 2/24/16: notes

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  • Adrian Turner, CDL
  • Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, UCR
  • Audra Eagle Yun, UCI
  • Brian Tingle, CDL
  • Cristela Garcia-Spitz, UCSD
  • Emily Lin, UCM
  • Eric Milenkiewicz, UCR
  • Gabriela Montoya, UCSD
  • Jerrold Shiroma, UCM
  • Kelly Spring, UCI
  • Kelsi Evans, UCSF
  • Robin Katz, UCR
  • Roger Smith, UCSD
  • Sara Fitzgerald, UCR

Hosted by: Sherri Berger and Amy Wieliczka, CDL

Contributor round-robin:

"Tell us a little about your experience with digital exhibitions. What have you done/are you doing? What tools are you using? What do you hope to do? etc."


  • UCISpace: not necessarily curated
  • The whole library uses this so there's a whole mix of stuff in there - e.g. data sets
  • Southeast Asian Archives collection, built on the previous Calisphere infrastructure
  • Currently working on photograph collections - legacy projects in the middle of production
  • Interested in inter-institution projects
  • "Totally invested in Calisphere as public interface"
  • Haven't talked about audience in detail - excited about the idea of grouping content by topic


  • Recently demo'ed an Omeka site - drawing together an exhibition of materials
  • Some oral histories recorded by a faculty member, re: history of a Japanese American community in the San Joaquin valley
  • Hope to do more of this - ethnic groups that have settled here and would like to present their histories - using Omeka
  • They'd like to pull in materials available on Calisphere
  • They did some early on connecting with the Nuxeo connector
  • Related: when they launched the Ramicova costume design collection on Calisphere, Jerrold created a separate website to feature the works because there isn't currently a way to pull together works by production


  • They're using Omeka for digital exhibits (vanilla - no customization)
  • 2 online in that system, plus a few HTML based legacy ones floating around, which they'd like to migrate forward in some kind of system
  • They've committed to Nuxeo and they're going to look towards the UC Santa Cruz plugin
  • Way down the line: goal is looking into an instance of Drupal for exhibits, since their new library website will be Drupal based
  • They're also interested in what Calisphere is doing - they want something easy to use that's tailored to different formats
  • Multimedia is very important
  • They launched a digital exhibits committee - thinking through all this
  • Another use case is digital exhibits that complement a physical exhibit

San Diego:

  • They've had a number of custom-coded web page exhibits - collections of distinction in special collections
  • Focus on Dr. Seuss, spanish civil war, local history, Baja CA; point to objects that reside in their local DAMS (hydra/blacklight)
  • Doesn't always point to their DAMS instance of an object - some of it is locally digitized
  • Additionally: 3 standalone sites - California Explores the Ocean (aggregation/presentation of a theme); Farmworker Movement website (purchased from a curator); San Diego technology archive (mostly oral history interviews and transcripts) - they'd love to look at other tools for how they could better manage and preserve these
  • They're looking at Spotlight - hoping they can develop a narrative or use case that covers this and looks forward at supporting these initiatives; dovetails with digital humanities
  • Finally, they also have exhibit-like spaces inside their DAMS, ways of grouping content

San Francisco:

  • Different types of exhibits - they do about 2 a year in the library, in the physical space; they'd like to present them digitally as well
  • They did a quick and dirty version of this in Omeka for their campus's 150th anniversary
  • Now they've shifted to Nuxeo and Calisphere as primary-facing web presence
  • They installed the plugin and are toying with that
  • Radiologic imagery will has a LOT of stuff on Calisphere, but want to create a bit of a subspace
  • They'd like to have everything streamlined on one site so they are holding for now
  • They also have something called "projects" e.g. AIDS history project - many different collections that fit under one umbrella - pull them together in a curated space

Design walkthrough:

  • Do those 12 items at the top change or are they always the same?
    • If order of the objects is important (is it?), then they will need to stay the same - envisioned as the first 12
  • Would we limit the number of items in a set?
    • Probably not, depends on the story you're trying to tell
  • It's image-centric - what about multimedia and different objects?
    • We'll support all content types that are in Calisphere, but we should think through how this looks for audio, in particular, and make sure it is still engaging.
  • UCSD has experimented with a lightbox and run into challenges
    • Found it was great for highlighting an image but not necessarily multimedia
    • Didn't help with groups of images, the way the UC San Diego History site works
  • What about grouping objects? i.e. maybe sets of a few of them at a time?
    • Example: UCM oral histories, they'd want to pull together audio recordings, oral histories, etc.
  • Would this support just your one campus, or could you pull everything?
    • Everything!
    • Anything on Calisphere - even harvested content
  • I noticed with the old themed collections, once i drilled down in, I couldn't see where this material originated from. Will this be better?
    • Yes, we think so. Part of the idea of the lightbox is allowing users to see the object without leaving the exhibition; some metadata will be supplied there. Plus when the user goes to the new object page, that information is more prominent than it was before.
    • We are open to hearing more about what kind of metadata appears here.
  • What's the timeline for this?
    • April/May
  • What's the backend interface? will it be in Nuxeo, or something different?
    • Something different - this is in the Calisphere back-end, which is based in Django. It won't look nice at first.
  • Would this work for you?
    • UCSD: an extension of what we're doing locally; refining the way grouped collections are expressed
    • UCR: we'd want to do more with timelines, geocoding, etc

Sherri's takeaways:

  • "Exhibition" has a lot of different meanings, takes a lot of different forms depending on campus, content, etc.
  • There is some interest in a Calisphere exhibitions builder like this, especially if a campus wants to:
    • Keep all their permutations of content together on Calisphere (e.g. UCSF could envision a more curated subset of a big collection)
    • Work with other institutions and grab other objects from across Calisphere to make the exhibition
  • UX feedback / blockers heard so far:
    • Must support (and be optimized for) other types of media, not just images
    • Grouping objects within exhibitions is important - e.g. for oral history recordings + transcripts, or dividing by format
    • Timelines and maps are other features that are desirable
    • Lightbox affect presented challenges for UCSD - follow-up for more info
    • Good to make clear the contributing institution and collection - there's more context here than in old themed collections
  • There are also use cases for having exhibitions - or fully customized sites - locally
    • Calisphere API is a tool for this
    • But maybe there is more CDL could do to support next-gen "skin and slice" (local incarnations / special websites that pull from Calisphere content) - Exhibit data API? Spotlight as potential tool?
    • We should also think about how we can link to these through Calisphere, so users can find these exhibitions even if they aren't hosted on the site
  • Possibly related to exhibitions: there's a need to group content in different ways
    • making finer distinctions within collections (e.g. productions for UCM Ramicova)
    • grouping collections into broader themes (e.g. AIDS history for UCSF collections)
    • We need more conversations about this - other features and ways we can support these use cases beyond "exhibitions" per se


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