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Thursday, March 28 • 11:00am - 12:00pm
Multimodality on Display: Expanding the Methods of Exhibitions in Libraries and Museums

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Multimodal exhibitions are characterized by several modes of engagement or activity. This panel will discuss three multimodal exhibition projects: the Cabell Screen, a large electronic display dedicated to showing art and other visually compelling works at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU); an exhibition at McGill University Library that incorporated an interactive touchable, a hands on high school workshop, and a digital mapping project with a traditional, physical, exhibition; and the compiling and indexing of historical exhibition data, such as checklists and press releases, from the MoMA Archives for web display. Participants will learn about how multimodal exhibitions can be scaled to fit their institution’s needs and increase engagement, and how partnerships across organizations can interlink resources, especially as they pertain to exhibitions.

In 2016, VCU installed a Cabell Screen, a 400 square foot media display on the façade of James Branch Cabell Library. Spanning two stories of the main academic library, the screen displays curated exhibitions of still and moving images. Thousands of people walk by or socialize near the screen, creating unprecedented opportunities for outreach, dialogue, and community engagement. To date, approximately 100 exhibitions have been held. How the content strategy and curatorial guidelines of this project can be applied to electronic exhibitions at other institutions encompassing a range of media, sites, and budgets—from monitors to projections on walls or buildings—will be explored.

Like VCU, McGill Library’s multimodal exhibition uses technology to enrich viewers’ experiences. In 2017, McGill wanted to celebrate the Expo ’67 world’s fair, an event important to Montreal’s history. First, a traditional physical exhibition was developed in the main library lobby using objects from Special Collections. To expand the reach of the exhibition, an interactive touchable was critical in allowing for the creation of a second site of exploration by making accessible materials that otherwise would have been too large or fragile. In addition, a primary source literacy workshop and a digital mapping project were developed where students brought their new-found knowledge of the Expo site to the online mapping application, HistoryPin. By including various modes of activity, McGill Library was able to increase student engagement with the exhibition.

The third multimodal exhibition project, an online resource created from MoMA’s Archives, takes a multimodal approach to exhibitions that have already taken place. In September of 2016, MoMA published web pages for all of its past exhibitions going back to 1929, including press releases, checklists, installation images, and exhibition catalogs. In 2018, the exhibition history of MoMA PS1 was added, although it contains less digital content. The process of creating a multimodal experience from a past exhibition will be explored. There is also potential to expand the project to other institutions; integrating the exhibition histories of multiple organizations not only can allow for the study of artist activities across a community of galleries, museums, and other institutions, over time, but also create a network of interlinked resources allowing for the easier discovery and greater exposure of archival records and historical materials across the web.


Stefanie Hilles

Art and Humanities Librarian, Wertz Art and Architecture Library, Miami University


Jennifer Garland

Assistant Head Librarian, Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University
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Yuki Hibben

Assistant Head of Special Collections and Archives and Curator of Books and Art, Virginia Commonwealth University
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Jonathan Lill

Leon Levy Foundation Project Manager, The Museum of Modern Art
Jonathan Lill is the Leon Levy Project Manager in the MoMA Archives where he currently leads their Exhibition Files Project to open all of MoMA's historical curatorial records to the public. He received his MLS from Simmons College, Boston.

Thursday March 28, 2019 11:00am - 12:00pm
Grand America Hotel: Savoy (1st Floor) 555 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Attendees (69)