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Exhibits Handbook

Detailed instructions for anyone curating physical or digital exhibits.

Physical Exhibits

This page will guide you through the creation of a physical exhibit. Before submitting a proposal you will want to explore the Exhibits Archive to get an idea of the topics and themes that have recently been explored.

Ohio University Libraries host exhibits highlighting materials from across our collection of millions of items, including books, periodicals, multimedia, rare books, manuscripts, photographs, art and anthropological objects, and more. We host traveling exhibits and items on loan from other cultural institutions, and accept proposals to curate exhibits from Ohio University staff, students, faculty, and the Athens community. We encourage exhibitors to consider items, ideas, and curatorial approaches that center marginalized voices and experiences in their exhibits, and we are committed to continually working to make our physical and digital exhibits accessible to all patrons. 

Physical exhibit space is located on the first, third, fourth, and fifth floors of Alden Library (though special installations of non-secured works can be arranged in many other library spaces), as well as the Music and Dance Library in Glidden Hall. 

The goal of an exhibit is that the selection and juxtaposition of objects produces a narrative or new understanding in the audience.

Curators should take an active role in designing exhibits that are engaging, accessible, and illuminating for their audience and select exhibit layouts and explanatory labels that aid their audience in interpretation, rather than passive consumption. This guide will help you do just that!

To get started, please follow the checklist below.

Physical Exhibits Checklist

Before you submit your proposal:

  • Review the exhibit policies and be prepared to submit your proposal as far in advance as possible, and remember that you may need to be flexible about locations, dates, materials available, etc.

  • Contact the Exhibits Coordinator to make sure the space you're interested in exhibiting isn't already taken. If needed, the exhibits coordinator with then connect you with the collection curator or library staff person with whom you will be working. 

  • Consider the audience for your exhibit, the types of materials you'd like to display, and select an exhibit space accordingly.

  • It's important to think about accessibility before you begin planning your exhibit, not after. If you are showing video, be sure it's captioned or make sure a transcript is available. Consider including braille in object labels or even consider printing a document (let's say a Civil War Letter) in braille. Treat these requests like you would a printing services request (at least two weeks ahead of time) to make sure that they can be completed in a timely fashion.

Still interested? Submit your proposal!

After your proposal is accepted:

  • If using Libraries materials, consult with the collection curator and/or Miriam Nelson regarding preservation and correct handling and display. 

  • If using Libraries materials, consult with the collection curator and/or Miriam Nelson for information about exhibit supplies (risers, supports, cradles, labels, etc.).

  • Provide the collection curator and the exhibits coordinator two weeks from the intended publication date for copy-editing and fact checking your labels.

  • Three weeks ahead of installation make sure to submit all printing requests to the exhibits coordinator and schedule installation time on their calendar. If the timing of your exhibit does not allow this lead time for printing, you may be responsible for any printing charges related to the exhibit outside of printing done in-house.

  • Ensure that all items are ready for immediate installation, and consult with the exhibits coordinator regarding hanging hardware for two-dimensional items (remember, no adhesives or damaging hardware allowed).

  • Clean cases, if needed.

​After your exhibit is installed:

  • At least two weeks before de-installation, schedule time with the collection curator.