Calisphere Exhibitions are curated sets of items with scholarly interpretation that contribute to historical understanding. Exhibitions undergo an editorial review process.

We invite Calisphere contributing institutions to propose and create exhibitions. They can be developed solely by institution staff or in partnership with other experts. Read on for more information, or scroll down for the key documents.

Please note that the Calisphere exhibition development and review process is currently under development. We encourage you to contact us early in your planning process, and we appreciate your patience as we work together to refine this workflow.


Why create a Calisphere exhibition? Because you can:

  • Bring digital content to life for users. Tell a story about items in one or more collections from your institution and across Calisphere, adding captions and context that expand on the existing metadata.
  • Collaborate with other librarians, professors, graduate students, and community members. An exhibition can be the basis for a great intern or class project.
  • Raise the visibility of your digital objects. Exhibitions are the most highly accessed pages on Calisphere and drive significant traffic from Google.

Content Guidelines

The following content guidelines apply to all prospective exhibitions:

  • Exhibitions can only contain items that have been contributed to Calisphere, since the platform works, technically, by pointing to persistent identifiers on the site. “Content contributed to Calisphere” means any item with a Calisphere URL: content harvested from other systems, legacy content harvested from the OAC and -- if you are a UC contributor -- content published through the DAMS workflow. Note that you can propose an exhibition in advance of contributing the items, but we will not be able to publish that exhibition until the items are live on Calisphere.
  • Exhibitions are scholarly works that help users understand topics. When considering proposing an exhibition, we encourage you to think about the unique story you can tell; the light you can shed on a given subject, biography, or historical moment; and/or the argument or thesis you can advance using Calisphere items as examples or evidence.
  • Exhibitions can contain items contributed to Calisphere by multiple institutions. If you choose to include items contributed by other institutions, we encourage you to reach out to those institutions to collaborate. CDL can facilitate contact with those institutions.
  • Exhibitions must be well-researched and historically accurate, as determined by the institutional sponsor (see “Roles and Responsibilities” below).
  • All exhibitions are required to contain overview text, and it is highly recommended that they contain several item-level captions. More granular content requirements are specified in the Exhibition Curator’s Template that is used in the curatorial process.
  • All exhibitions will be assigned a CC-BY license to allow users to use and adapt the content. The license will apply to the interpretive copy but not the digital items themselves.

Because most of the exhibitions currently on Calisphere pre-date these guidelines, we recommend you review the exhibition After-Lives of the Vietnam War as a model.

Roles and Responsibilities

The development of an exhibition requires the following roles and responsibilities on the part of the proposer (though the same person may serve multiple roles):

  • Project owner: this person will submit the exhibition proposal (see “Process Overview” below), serve as the main point of contact on the project for CDL and the Exhibition Review Committee, and provide any needed project management to curators and/or the affiliated institution(s) to ensure the development of the exhibition proceeds smoothly.
  • Curator(s): the author(s) of the exhibition, who will select and order the items, conduct research as needed, and write interpretive copy. Curators must have expertise in the subject/items described, demonstrated research experience, and/or the appropriate oversight from a recognized “expert” (e.g. a student under the tutelage of a faculty or staff advisor).
  • Institutional sponsor / affiliation: every exhibition must secure the “sponsorship” of a contributing institution. The institutional sponsor assumes responsibility for a) ensuring that exhibition content is well researched and accurate, and b) serving as a long-term point of contact for CDL and a steward of the exhibition from an editorial perspective, for example by responding to user questions that may arise.

The following central staff will additionally be involved in the exhibition development process:

  • OAC/Calisphere Service & Outreach Manager: the primary point of contact at CDL, who will provide “macro” project management, ensuring that the exhibition proposal and content successfully move through the editorial process; migrating exhibition content to the preview interface; and working with CDL technical staff as needed.
  • Exhibitions Advisory Board liaison: a liaison from the Board will be assigned to each new exhibition that moves through this process, to provide support to the OAC/Calisphere Service & Outreach Manager, ensure the consistent application of standards across exhibitions, and make suggested changes to the exhibition development process as needed.
  • Exhibitions Advisory Board and an Exhibition Review Committee: the full Calisphere Exhibitions Advisory Board reviews the exhibition proposal, and an ad hoc Exhibition Review Committee reviews the specific exhibition. See “Process Overview” section for more details.

Process Overview

There are two main phases of the exhibition development process: a proposal phase and a curatorial phase. Both phases undergo review, by the Calisphere Exhibitions Advisory Board and an Exhibition Review Committee, respectively. (Read more about exhibitions governance.)

Note that institutions may establish their own local policies, guidelines, and workflows for the development of Calisphere exhibitions, to feed into this central process.

1. Proposal phase

An exhibition must be proposed by a project owner affiliated with or in partnership with a contributing institution (see “Roles and Responsibilities” above). During the proposal phase:

  • The project owner contacts CDL, and an initial scoping and orientation call is held.
  • The project owner fills out and submits an Exhibition Proposal.
  • The Exhibitions Advisory Board reviews and accepts the proposal and/or provides any editorial feedback.

At this time, proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and timelines determined case-by-case; in the future, there may be scheduled calls for proposals and review periods.

2. Curatorial phase

After the exhibition proposal is accepted, the work of creating the exhibition begins. The key steps in this process include:

  • An Exhibition Project Timeline is developed, and key dates and deadlines determined.
  • An Exhibition Review Committee is assembled.
  • The curator(s) conduct research, select objects, and write copy, using the Exhibition Curator’s Template as a guide. Revisions are made after reviewing the exhibition on a preview interface.
  • The Exhibition Review Committee reviews the exhibition and offers edits and feedback as needed.
  • The exhibition undergoes additional revisions and review as needed; after final sign-off (by both curators and Committee), the exhibition is added to Calisphere.

For a more detailed breakdown of the exhibition development process, see Exhibition Project Timeline.

Key Documents

Here are the key documents referenced throughout the guide above, pulled into a handy list: