The development of an online exhibit as coursework offers students the opportunity to engage with object- and media-centered learning. Exhibits provide authentic learning experiences that can potentially engage with a wide range of audiences. Students explore their subject matter through the curation of images, videos, audio recordings, and objects in a collection, selecting the materials that best tell the story students wish to tell. The process of curating an exhibit gives students opportunities to not only describe objects in detail but also to interpret and contextualize those objects with descriptive writings. Exhibits allow students to creatively express and apply their knowledge within a format that can build upon the rich collections at Princeton and contribute to the University’s intellectual community through a multi-faceted, media-rich project.

Learning goals

  • Exhibits provide opportunities to draw connections between objects and to tell stories through their selections. Students can explore these connections and explain their curatorial choices.
  • Online exhibits offer opportunities to interact with Library and Art Museum staff and with digital materials. Students also gain exposure to professional settings in academia that they might not otherwise interact with in a college course.


  • Exhibits are often designed as group projects. As with all group projects, it is important to communicate how you will evaluate student work. Create a rubric that outlines your assessment goals and consider having students develop a self-reflective document that tracks their contributions and growth.
  • It might be necessary to restrict access to the exhibit due to copyright restrictions. Despite this, expect students to emphasize the importance of the audience and the audience’s prior knowledge.
  • Digitizing materials can be a time-consuming and tedious process. If possible use existing digitized materials such as those found in Princeton’s Digital Repository (DPUL) or on the Princeton University Art Museum website.
  • Many cultural institutions are making their collections available in the IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework). This standard allows, and indeed facilitates, the re-use and collection of existing digitized materials.
Student preparation

Creating an exhibit usually requires an online platform that is specifically suited to the purpose. Some class time dedicated to learning the tool will likely be necessary.

Rubrics and resources


  • AAS 341 ART 375: ENTER THE NEW NEGRO: Black Atlantic: Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Art and Archeology; African American Studies

    Born in the late 1800s, the New Negro movement demanded political equality, desegregation, and an end to lynching, while also launching new forms of international Black cultural expression. The visionary modernity of its artists not only reimagined the history of the black diaspora by developing new artistic languages through travel, music, religion and poetry, but also shaped modernism as a whole in the 20th century. Incorporating field trips and sessions in the Princeton University Art Museum, this course explores Afro-modern forms of artistic expression from the late 19th-century into the mid-20th century.

    Kyoto University and Princeton University have initiated a joint project in March 2020 in order to deepen the knowledge and awareness of Japanese history and culture throughout the world. The goal is to disseminate images, transcriptions, translations, and research about Japanese documents owned by the Kyoto University Museum.

    The first set of documents that are translated are 53 records of the Tannowa collection. They cover the period from the early thirteenth through the early sixteenth century, and provide insight into the actions of the Tannowa, a warrior family who resided in the eponymous Tannowa estate in Izumi province. This collection is unique in that it provides, in great detail, evidence for the actions of the warriors of the central provinces near Kyoto, which rarely survive. These document reveal much about social and political conditions during the turbulent fourteenth century, when wars were fought between the Northern and Southern courts in Izumi from 1331 through 1392. The most remarkable documents in this collection include edicts from chancelleries of the noble Kujō house. In addition, a series of documents by Kusunoki Masanori, found in scroll two, are noteworthy, as are records from Ashikaga Takauji, the founder of Japan’s second warrior government. Finally, the latest documents recount the Tannowa during wars of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as well.

  • GABRIELE MÜNTER, PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE AMERICAN WEST: Lionel Gossman, Emeritus, French and Italian

    One of the founding members in 1911 of the much admired avant-garde artists’ group known as “Der Blaue Reiter” [The Blue Rider], Gabriele Münter (1877-1962) is much less well known in the U.S. or Great Britain than in her native Germany, where her work has been shown in private galleries since 1909 and well over 50 exhibitions have been devoted to it in major public galleries, the latest being scheduled to open at the Lenbachhaus in Munich on October 31, 2017 and to run for five months. The first showing of Münter’s work in the U.S., in contrast, did not take place until 1955, at the private Curt Valentin gallery in New York. Four other shows in private galleries in New York and Los Angeles followed in the 1960s. It was 1980 before the first exhibition of Münter’s paintings and drawings in a public gallery — curated by the University of Massachusetts art historian Anne Mochon — opened at Harvard University’s Busch- Reisinger Museum. This exhibition was also seen at the Princeton University Art Museum the following year. In the late 1990s a retrospective exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum — this one curated by University of Chicago art historian Reinhold Heller– traveled to Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Virginia, and the McNay Museum in San Antonio, Texas (1997-98), and in 2005 Shulamith Behr of the Courtauld Institute and Annegret Hoberg of the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich curated an exhibition at the Courtauld Institute Gallery in London, about which the critic of the Independent on Sunday newspaper wrote: “This small jewel-like exhibition is in its quiet, unobtrusive way one of the best shows in London.”

    One-term project for visiting (Department of English) Professor David Ball, ’07, Dickinson College. Features student-created maps and entries to create an overview of New York modernism between 1890 and 1940.
  • Archiving the American West

    Archiving the American West (HIS 431), is an experimental course first offered at Princeton in Spring 2021 by Professor Martha Sandweiss (History), in collaboration with Gabriel Swift, Curator of Western Americana, and Brian Wright, Ph.D Candidate in History. Its goal was to offer students advanced research skills in Western American history, while also introducing them to the history and contemporary politics of archives and special collections.
Posted by May 12, 2021