HOW TO | Creating a Virtual Exhibition
Have you ever dreamed of organizing an exhibition with your art works? Would you like to join forces with your colleagues and create a collective exhibition according to your exact vision? You don't have to wait for exhibition venues to reopen to make it happen! Since in-person exhibitions currently present a number of obstacles, organizing a virtual exhibition can be a creative exercise with many advantages.
For this blog, we partnered with Lorie Turpin and Josh Clendenin of the Arbor Gallery Cultural Center to learn from their experience in creating the Spirit of Spring virtual exhibition. They generously agreed to share tips and tricks on how to make this type of project happen. By eliminating the limitations imposed by a physical exhibition, such as accessibility to the venue, virtual efforts will most likely remain an excellent option even after the return to a new normal.
“I think that we’ve learned that we can do whatever we put our minds to! We put this show together quite quickly and relatively effortlessly because we did not have to deal with physical art. Sometimes the art hardware is not user friendly and it is a challenge to hang some pieces and this platform negates that challenge,” shared Lorie. With their recent experience and research from the Prescott-Russell Arts Council, we hope this blog post can inspire you to organize your own exhibition!
Creating your own virtual exhibition can be an enjoyable project that will stimulate your creativity while teaching you many skills that complement your primary art practice. Among the many benefits of embarking on such a project, we have noted the following:
- It will allow visibility to your work at a time when public spaces such as art galleries must adopt strict guidelines of physical distancing or close down completely.
- In fact, you have complete creative control! Play the role of curator and organize your exhibition exactly as you see fit.
- You don't have to go through all the steps to get the artwork into a physical space.
- This project can be a good reason to digitize your artwork (read our blog on art photography).
- The art collection can then be used as an online portfolio or even a place where potential clients can view your work.
- You have the opportunity to reach a whole new audience! It offers clients the luxury of viewing regardless of health conditions, distance of the exhibition's location and government imposed restrictions.
Tackling this kind of project can seem daunting. So here are some things to keep in mind to get started.
- Think about a theme or idea for your show. What story do you want to tell? A theme can give you an idea of what works to include as well as a connecting element to engage the audience.
- Do a little research to see what is already out there. Seeing and learning from other virtual exhibits can give you ideas for your own project and let you know what elements worked and what did not. Note the platforms/websites used and what they accomplished.
- Note the skills you may be missing. You may know someone with a particular skill set who could help you. Delegation allows you to focus on your strengths and will eliminate some of the worry.
- Make sure all your content is ready and your information is accurate. This includes the quality of your photos, the dimensions of the artwork and media information, your artistic statement(s), etc. Hopefully, this effort will be a "passion project" so take the time to tell your creative story to your audience! (If you have a lot to tell or share, you might also consider creating a blog or vlog).
- Think about how you will promote your show. Here's your chance to practice self-promotion and marketing. As mentioned above, if this is not your strong suit, you can delegate this task or ask for help.
Now that you've taken the time to plan the virtual exhibit of your dreams, it's time to make it happen! But before we give you platform suggestions, we ask: have you considered making it a group exhibition? If your vision only includes your work, go for it, it will certainly be great! A group show offers you the opportunity to share work, attract more visitors, include a variety of complementary or contrasting works, and a chance to collaborate with friends or new colleagues!
You're ready to take action! We've noted potential platforms and websites available to you. Each one offers different features, some have a cost, and they vary in level of complexity.
This option simply requires a Facebook page and a basic knowledge of how to use it (ideally not your personal profile as that could limit the audience). Visitors will be able to see each work, react or comment, and read details about the work. The album or individual images can be shared by viewers.
You can use your professional Instagram page or create a new one just for the exhibition. Basic knowledge of the platform is required to know how to add images to your page. This platform offers similar engagement opportunities as Facebook albums, except that the works appear on your profile and not in a specific album.
Gallery on your website
In addition to creating a professional website to share everything people need to know about you and your practice, many website platforms allow for a gallery/media page where you can include images. You can include a selection of work and present it as an online exhibition or portfolio. When promoting this type of exhibition, don't forget to redirect people with the correct link to this section of your website. This option requires that you already have or create a professional website.
If you have video editing skills, this is an option that will allow you to share your exhibit on video platforms such as YouTube. The Prescott-Russell Arts Council recently chose this option to virtually share the Expressions of our Municipalities exhibition. This option is unique because it allows you to dictate the pace at which visitors view the works and add an audio element such as background music. Be careful when using content that you don't own. You can see how many views your video receives and you can allow visitors to share comments.
Virtual reality exhibition
For its Spirit of Spring exhibition, the Arbor Gallery opted for this option. This type of website immerses the viewer in a virtual reality space to give them the impression of being in a gallery surrounded by artworks. A search on the web reveals several platforms allowing this type of exhibition. For their exhibition, the Arbor Gallery decided to use Kunstmatrix because it was not too expensive and offered convenient features. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it's not too steep. As far as cost goes, the subscription is tiered based on the amount of work you want to upload and the number of exhibitions you want to run. Please note that the exact measurements, including frame and mat, must be taken in centimetres, as this is a German website. Also, jpegs must be 5MB or smaller.
When asked about their experience with the platform, Lorie and Josh emphasized how impressed viewers were with the result. They are proud to offer the opportunity to showcase the gallery and local artists without the current barriers that accompany an in-person exhibition.
Now it's your turn! We hope this blog has given you the tools to start thinking about creating your own virtual exhibits! In the meantime, enjoy the learning process and get inspired. Don't forget to check out the Arbor Gallery's virtual exhibition, Spirit of Spring, running through April 30. We would like to sincerely thank Lorie and Josh for their contributions to this blog.