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Sharing the Experience: The Building of a Successful Online/Onsite Exhibition

Scott Sayre, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, USA
Joan Gorman, Upper Midwest Conservation Association, USA
Patrick Noon, Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, USA
Mike Dust, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, USA

Session: Online-Onsite

In September of 1999 the Minneapolis Institute of Arts opened a six week exhibit allowing the public to observe the process of restoring a 300 year old painting. Unique to this exhibit was not only the visitor's onsite access to the physical restoration of this 12' by 9' master work, but the fact that the public could view the "real time" progress of the project on the web. Conceived as a onsite/online project from the beginning, this was the first project of its type to be composed of collaborators from different departments and organizations within the museum. The resulting program became one of the museums most popular web projects to date. This panel will focus on the various challenges and opportunities posed by this project from four different perspectives.

The Online Project Manager will present a general overview of the project and discuss some of the logistical challenges in planning, implementing and sustaining a "real time" project. Specific topics to be addressed will include project team coordination, pre-production strategies, and promotional tactics. The Paintings Curator who conceived of and oversaw the creation of this unique exhibit will describe the thinking behind its design and the internal and external response to it. A Painting Conservator, one of the two starring in the exhibit, will share her experiences working in public and under the surveillance of a worldwide web audience. Finally, the in-house Multimedia Specialist responsible for ongoing digital documentation and site updates will describe the technical aspects of the project and insights he gleaned along the way.

Sections of the website as well as video shot during the exhibit will be used throughout the panel to enliven the audience's understanding of the onsite and online exhibit. The conclusion will summarize the potential short and long term effects such dynamic exhibitions can have on an entire institution.