Digital Humanities Guide: Digital Archives and Exhibits

Digital Archives and Exhibits

A digital exhibit is a collection of cultural artifacts, usually accompanied by a scholarly narrative. These collections can consist of sound, images, text, videos, interactive software or a combination thereof. The archetypal exhibit will offer users browsing by categories, searching, pages to explore individual items, and multimedia narratives and annotations to accompany the collection. Digital exhibits have often been used as book companions, but more often than not, they are used as stand alone projects to present a collection of cultural and historical artifacts to the general public.

What We Support

At Columbia Libraries we can help you build your digital exhibits in many ways. We provide different kinds of support depending on the choices you make. To know which is the right choice for you, please contact one of our Digital Scholarship librarians to set up an initial consultation. Before you do so here are some of your choices, and relevant considerations.

Exhibits With Wax

Wax is a set of tools, originally designed at Columbia University Libraries by Marii Nyrop to provide a static site alternative to existing platforms. The goal was to reduce the cost of maintenance, security risks, bandwidth and electricity usage; and, augment the control of creators over their project; and, allow us finally to host and steward faculty and student scholarly exhibits in Library servers. To produce a Wax site with us, we can help you in one of two ways:

  1. Fish for me: You could produce a series of word documents, a folder with media files and a spreadsheet that we would turn into a Wax site. You would also have 10-15 hours of design hours from our staff to add 1 or 2 unique design elements to your site to make the form match the content.
  2. Teach me how to fish: We would be happy to teach you or your whole team the fundamentals that would allow you to be able to produce these kinds of projects independently. These lessons have the added virtue of covering fundamentals of computing that are eminently transferable to other domains of digital scholarship and beyond.

Exhibits with Omeka

Omeka is a very popular Content Management Systems used to create exhibits of cultural artifacts. At the Libraries we can help you set up an Omeka site with our hosting partners Reclaim Hosting, through our "Domain of One's Own" program. To learn more, please contact our Research and Learning Technologies Librarian.

Working with Artifacts in Our Special or General Collections

We are happy to work with you on small projects that highlight our collections, especially when those collections have been inappropriately neglected. We are designing workflows that can go from digitization to published exhibit. Please contact our Digital Scholarship Librarian to learn more.

Other Options

For any other options please contact our Digital Scholarship Librarian to set up a consultation.


Examples from Columbia University