Most schools in the Netherlands have open days during the mid-winter. Many schools have something of a pitched battle against nearby rival schools in the effort to attract a good number of new pupils for the forthcoming school year. The school where I teach is no different, we must be seen to compete!
Such open days are all well and good, if a little exhausting and long at the end of the teaching week. But with the current lockdowns and need for extreme social distancing the normal packed school with hundreds of children and their parents simply is not an option. As a result, things are moving online. Most schools are frantically putting together a new online presence/digital open day. Films are being shot, interviews recorded, and websites constructed.
As far as the art department is concerned, in my school we were looking for a way to present a collection of pupils’ work. Collections of photographs or films of pieces of work were of course possible but we wanted something a bit more immersive and interactive, and amongst all the other films that were being made, we simply wanted something that stood out as being a bit different.
The need of the situation, as with many other things in education in the last year, has forced me and a colleague to explore the possibilities more than we perhaps have done up until now. The online exhibition possibilities offered my artsteps.com where something that I have known about for a while but have never fully explored up until now because I simply have not fully felt the need to. But now was the time, was this going to be what we needed?
Well, the short answer to that is a resounding yes, absolutely. A week later I have built three online, three dimensional exhibitions of pupils’ work that are going to serve our purposes fantastically well. The links below will take you there and allow you to pass through and view the work.
Of course, it is not as good as walking around an art room in a school taking a closer look for yourself but given the circumstances it really isn’t a bad substitute for our 10- and 11-year-old visitors and their parents.
Having put it all together, what would I say are the pros and cons on offer here?
- The learning curve for using the software really is not too step. Invest a little time and you should find your way.
- Creating a stylish and well-ordered look to the exhibition is both possible and straight forward.
- It is free and everything is online (apart from the photos and films you want to upload) with no software having to be downloaded or installed.
- Videos can also be part of your exhibition.
- You can design your own rooms.
- But above all is just fun to create and fun to visit!
- Three-dimensional work is difficult to include. 3D printer designs can be unloaded and included, but documentation of a tradition sculpture can only be done using a film of the object or photographs of it.
- I do not seem to be able to get the films to work on mobile devices. Although walking around the spaces to look at the pictures on my iPad works perfectly.
- Visiting the exhibitions on a mobile phone is, it seems, possible on some phones and not on others.
The ease with which the software works leaves me thinking of the future possibilities. I see opportunities for asking a group to curate their own exhibitions on selected themes. They could visit the websites museums of the museums of the world gathering the artworks that they need. I have done this before and set poster design assignments as a part of the project, but now I see the additional installation of a 3-dimensional digital exhibition as a fantastic extension of the project.
It is strange how necessity can be the mother of invention, forcing you to explore new possibilities. This has certainly been the case in the past few weeks.