How to Design an Exhibit

Before you can begin building a Spotlight exhibit, you must have a consultation meeting with all stakeholders and potential partners in the Libraries. Please contact Matt Huculak, Digital Scholarship Librarian ( to arrange this meeting. If your proposed exhibit would include materials from Special Collections and University Archives, please also contact Lara Wilson, Director Special Collections and University Archivist ( If you are hoping to have materials digitized, please see our digitization policy.

Exhibits that tell stories: Spotlight or Vault?

One purpose of this consultation meeting is to determine whether the proposed exhibit is suitable for Spotlight or if it would be more appropriate as a featured collection in Vault (, a different platform used by the Libraries that allows the presentation of digitized items and accompanying metadata but does not include a narrative framework. Spotlight is intended for exhibits that tell stories. If you want to create a Spotlight exhibit, you should be prepared to provide a robust narrative that links and contextualizes the items you choose. You should consider:

  • Who is the audience for your exhibit, and how do you envision your audience using the exhibit? All exhibits should be written in a way that is accessible to a general audience, but do you also foresee scholars using it for academic research or instructors using it for pedagogical purposes? (For example, if you are highlighting items in UVic Special Collections, are you hoping to encourage instructors to teach with these materials? If so, you might consider supplying assignment templates as part of the exhibit.)
  • What type of story do you imagine for the exhibit? For instance, is there a biographical or historical arc? What is the broader social, political, or cultural relevance? In other words, why should people be interested in the exhibit? Or are you situating the exhibit items in a specific scholarly context? Do these items provide evidence for an argument in a particular academic field?
  • How does each item you select feature in the story you are building?


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