Ohio University Libraries is launching a new Digital Exhibits initiative to allow patrons to continue interacting with photographs, artifacts and other archival materials in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Erin Wilson, digital imaging specialist and lab manager at the Libraries, has already created two digital exhibits: “The Life and Times of Barnett Hook” and “Framing Time: The Photographic Legacy of Peter Goss, 1966-1970.”
Barnett Hook was a local celebrity from McArthur, Ohio, whose “art needlework” was well-known during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibit contains pictures of the Barnett Hook collection of textiles and photographs, which is housed in the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.
Peter Goss, who was an OHIO doctoral teaching fellow, took photographs of Athens and Ohio University that depicted local culture and student life from 1966-1970. Notably, Goss documented the events that occurred on OHIO’s campus leading up to and after the Kent State shooting in 1970. His photographs can be found in the Libraries’ Documentary Photo Archive, which is also housed in the Mahn Center.
“I think both are individuals of exceptional character whose work we are fortunate to have in our collections,” Wilson said, adding that the local history component made the exhibits particularly relevant. “Both collections lend themselves to a narrative portrayal and showcase materials entirely unique to OHIO Libraries.”
Users can browse through photographs in the exhibits and read the accompanying biographical information about Peter Goss and Barnett Hook. In addition, the broader Exhibits page on the Libraries’ website offers patrons a chance to explore digital accompaniments to physical exhibits, check out the archive of past exhibits from the Libraries and learn more about the exhibits program as a whole.
Art librarian Michele Jennings, who led the effort to integrate digital exhibits into the Libraries’ website, explained that being able to include this additional information is just one of the many advantages of online exhibits.
“There’s greater interactivity and the ability for the viewer to spend as much time with the materials as they want to,” she said. “We’re also able to engage with people who aren’t in the Library – people across the county and across the world. The digital exhibits provide some really rich context and allows users to guide themselves.”
Wilson agrees that creating online exhibits makes the content more easily available. The Peter Goss exhibit had over 250 views in the first week that it was available, so she believes that the digital component will allow the exhibits to reach more people than if they were limited to a physical location.
“I think having some kind of virtual component to accompany in-person exhibits not only increases their reach, but also serves to archive past events,” she said. “Library patrons will have an opportunity to view and revisit content from exhibits long after the physical displays are removed.”
View the digital exhibits on the Libraries’ Exhibits webpage.
For more information on the Peter Goss or Barnett Hook exhibits, contact Erin Wilson.