What is the distinction beween a digital archive and a digital exhibit, and why does it matter?
This does not imply that all exhibits have “bad” goals or that all curators have a negative bias. But they must always make a choice about the story they wish to tell. Therefore an exhibit is inevitably a more mediated experience than an archival collection.
A digital exhibit can be a discovery tool for finding an archive.
In a nutshell -- The exhibit may be a useful tool, but going back to the original archive collections is always a better research tactic.
Anatomy of a Digital Archive:
Anatomy of a Digital Exhibit:
This comparison chart, plus the two images below, should help you learn to distinguish between digital archives and digital exhibits.
|Digital Archive||Digital Exhibit|
|Title of the site or page MAY include the word “archive” (but may not)||Title of the site or page MAY include the word “exhibit” (but may not)|
|Topic of the site might be narrow or might be quite broad||Topic of the site will usually be fairly narrow|
|Entry screen will usually encourage you to Search or Browse the collection - a search box will often be in a prominent place||Entry screen will often encourage you to “Start here” or “View the exhibit” and content will proceed in a certain order, such as chronological chapters|
|There is usually not much lengthy text, unless it is a simple description of an image (example: "Photograph of two men standing in the rain beside a car." - notice this lacks interpretation)||There is usually lots of lengthy text, telling a story about a historical person or event|
|Many pages should resemble search results in the library catalog or databases: lots of result rows with a small picture and brief description for each - clicking a result should open a significantly larger version of an image or document, along with factual details about its creation (but no interpretation of its meaning or significance)||Many pages will resemble an essay, with some images scattered throughout; the images are often not very large, and almost always have captions below them|