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Virtual Exhibits Guide

Virtual Exhibits

At the heart of every exhibit are the artifacts used to reflect an overall theme to tell a compelling story. As you develop your virtual exhibit and begin your research you will select specific artifacts that relate to your themes/subject areas. However, it is important to ask yourself a couple of questions before you use the artifacts for your virtual exhibit:

  • Who is the owning institution of the artifact?
  • Is this artifact protected under copyright law?
  • Do you have permission to use the artifact in your exhibit?
  • How do I ask for permission?
  • Who do I ask for permission?

You will need to consider these questions for each artifact. The reason why copyright is so important is that your online exhibit is considered a published work. For any type of publication, you will need to ensure that the artifacts (photographs, correspondence, artwork, book, etc.) you will be using are not under copyright law or you have permission to use the artifact. 

Tips as you Conduct your Research

  • As you conduct your research through various digital repositories take notes of the digital objects/artifacts that you would like to use:
    • Copy and Paste the Hyperlink into a word doc, excel sheet, Google doc, etc. This will help you keep track of the artifacts you are interested in using for your virtual exhibit.
    • Note the copyright information of each artifact. 
    • Note the institution that owns the artifact. 
    • Note your reasoning as to why you think the artifact relates to the overall theme of your exhibit.

Here is an example of artifact information on Calisphere (digital database/repository):

In this case, you will note the following:

  • The rights information includes a link as to where you can get more information to reproduce and use the artifact.
  • The owning institution is the Los Angeles Public Library.
  • If you have a question about the artifact you can always contact the owner.

Keep in mind all digital databases/repositories contain this type of information for all their digital artifacts. If you have questions always feel free to contact the owning institution of the artifact. In addition, if you have any questions on how to investigate copyright you can reach out to Azalea Camacho, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian for help at

Asking for Permission Resources

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300