Recreating our exhibitions online

There is a sad feeling when exhibitions at Fisher are taken down after their usual three-month run to make room for the next one. That said, the current year notwithstanding, our cases are never empty for long. The exhibitions themselves also live on in the often elaborate accompanying catalogues, which become reference works in their own right. When the library was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted much of our focus to digital services. As a result, this gave us the opportunity to reflect on how we engage with our community. This has led to a new project: to create online versions of past exhibitions so that our patrons can learn more about our collections from home.

It’s fortuitous that as part of the regular workflow in creating an exhibition, high-quality digital images along with captions and other materials are stored on a shared workspace that is accessible remotely. This meant that over the summer, we were able to recreate several of our past exhibitions online. Thus far they include (and please click on the title to open the exhibition):

Flickering of the Flame: Print and the Reformation

How Does My Garden Grow: The Education of a Gardener

Struggle and Story: Canada in Print

Nihil Obstat: An Exhibition of Banned, Censored & Challenged Books in the West, 1491-2000

“So Long Lives This”: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Works, 1616-2016

Also available is Strength in Numbers: The CanLit Community, the display of which was unfortunately cut short when we closed our doors in March.

These are not exact reproductions of our physical exhibits, but rather a reimaging of them. Through combining captions, images, and portions of our catalogues, we provide the highlights and essence of these exhibits as a way to extend their reach long after the material returns to the shelves.  Also attached to these digital exhibits are audio tours provided by the curators and digital copies of the respective catalogues, both of which were not previously available on our web site after the exhibition closed. This will enable prospective researchers to learn more about our subject strengths, discover items of interest to them, or at the very least provide a way to pass time exploring the world of special collections from home.

You can now access these new online exhibitions from our homepage, as well as the main Fisher Digital Exhibitions page.

- Andrew Stewart and Danielle Van Wagner