Digital Exhibits

Digital Exhibits are an effective way of engaging students with digitized primary sources, curating digital media, teaching visual literacies, and producing collaborative scholarship. Exhibits can help students reach a broader audience with their scholarship, and introduce them to creating multimodal and non-linear narratives.

Teaching Goals

  • Close reading of primary sources or visual resources
  • Curation of digital objects
  • Digital publishing and a critical understanding of the Web
  • Public and/or multimodal scholarship


Digital exhibits can be created in almost any web framework or content management system. The Digital Scholarship team in the library can support all of the tools mentioned here, and many that aren’t.


Omeka is a web-based digital collections and exhibits builder. With no specialized software needed, students can create digital collections by uploading their own or linking to digital objects on the web and describing them using library and archival standards. The platform is aesthetically rigid–only a few themes exist and it is not as easily customizable as some others–but what it lacks in flexibility it makes up for in ease-of-use. Students can focus on their content without needing to learn much technical. Omeka is available on Haverford Sites, so your class can either work on a single common instance hosted by the library or each student can host their own Omeka site.


While WordPress was originally built as a blogging platform, it is now one of the most popular site builders on the web. It has a very active developer community that builds themes and plugins that extend the functionality and aesthetics of the core installation. It’s a tool that many students are already familiar with, and its simplicity allows them to focus on content creation. Those who wish to “get under the hood” can still do so. Like Omeka, WordPress is supported on Haverford Sites, so each student could create their own site or the class project can be hosted on a library server.

Jekyll or Static HTML Sites

More robust web frameworks like Jekyll offer total control over the look, feel, and functionality of a digital exhibit or website, and they create static web sites that are easy to host, migrate, and preserve. However, static sites require that students learn some markup language (either Markdown or HTML) to publish their work. While this critical making approach facilitates deeper understanding of the web, it requires more time for instruction and mastery of the required technical skills.


Possible Assignments

  • In the final weeks of the semester, students create their own WordPress or Omeka exhibits on a research topic of their choice (possibly adapting a paper they’ve written)
  • As a class, students create a common collection of items that they upload to Omeka over several weeks or throughout the semester. From that common collection, each student or group of students creates an exhibit exploring a theme within the collection.
  • Throughout the semester and with regular library instruction, students undertake a scaffolded series of assignments in which they learn markup, create one or more digital collections, and co-curate a digital exhibit to be launched at the end of the course.