Virtual Exhibition

By using online resources provided by art museum websites and image-based electronic databases, teachers can assume the role of art museum curators and construct an online exhibition for students to facilitate visual arts teaching and learning. Go to Resources

The Concepts of Virtual Exhibition

The Uniqueness of Virtual Exhibition

Virtual exhibitions present one or a series of innovative themes by assembling, interconnecting and publishing digital multimedia exhibits, providing users with an interactive experience. Through creating "the content in a context", exhibits are carefully selected and arranged narratively or logically to engage visitors in an alternative learning process of discovery and pursuit of knowledge:

  • Localization: To put visitors in a simulated environment and familiarise them with the cultural elements presented in the exhibition
  • Relevance: To attract and engage a wide spectrum of visitors with the digital content provided in the exhibition
  • Interaction: To provide interaction for visitors, such as zooming in on images or clicking on hyperlinks for details
  • Accessibility: To reach out to audiences who cannot attend the physical exhibitions

The Benefits of Virtual Exhibition

Virtual exhibitions cannot replace physical exhibitions in providing a comprehensive sensory and emotional experience, but online virtual exhibitions can be used as an alternative and provide some "value-added" virtual experiences, such as:

  • A convenient and direct access to exhibitions and rich content from personal computers and mobile devices
  • The freedom to navigate and browse different content according to the route and pace of personal choice
  • The function to download and save the exhibition content for later use
  • Links to other different websites through virtual exhibitions
  • A user-centered experience that gives visitors a unique sense of ownership

Use of Virtual Exhibition in Visual Arts Teaching

Different educational studies have pointed out that allowing students to interact in a three-dimensional interactive environment from a first-person perspective can bridge the gap between experiential learning and information transfer (Jonassen et al., 1999), and create opportunities for students to explore and learn more autonomously, thereby enhancing student engagement in learning (Dickey, 2005). The following are some of the advantages of teachers using virtual exhibitions in the teaching of visual arts:

  • Able to select exhibition themes and arrange exhibition content according to students' learning level, interests and curriculum needs, and deepen the teaching design of thematic units
  • Able to flexibly update and rotate exhibition content at any time in line with learning progress, increasing the flexibility of teaching resources
  • Enable students to navigate the exhibition without time and location constraints according to the route and pace chosen by themselves, and encourage independent learning
  • Make it easier for students to view the details of works and multimedia materials that cannot be exhibited in physical exhibitions, and enhance their interest in museums learning
  • Able to display works from different periods and regions, and link to other art museum online collection databases and learning resources, or enable students to download or save relevant reference materials to facilitate art criticism and creation
  • Able to link to other interactive learning platforms, allowing students to participate in related extended learning activities to enhance classroom interactive participation
  • Able as an online learning database or portal, storing information related to thematic exhibitions and showcasing students' learning achievements in stages

The Learning Mode of Virtual Exhibition

According to Lord & Piacente(2014), there are five major modes of exhibition apprehension . The following are some considerations given to teachers when planning virtual exhibitions for teaching:

  • Contemplation: Part of the works that cannot be introduced in class can be added to the virtual exhibition for students to browse and appreciate in their spare time
  • Comprehension: A variety of extended activities can be included in the virtual exhibition to help students understand and build connections among different works more easily
  • Discovery: Other hyperlinks can be inserted to the virtual exhibition to connect different online learning resources, allowing students to discover more related works and materials on their own
  • Interaction: The hyperlink function of the virtual exhibition can be utilised to conduct extended activities outside of the classroom, such as quizzes or games, submission of worksheets or homework exercises, etc.
  • Participation: The school learning platforms can be linked to the virtual exhibition, encouraging students to engage in discussions or art criticism after class

The Development Process of Virtual Exhibition

Preliminary Conceptualisation

A good exhibition starts with a strong and meaningful idea. Teachers can use their own teaching experience and refer to the learning needs of students or curriculum requirements to generate initial ideas on the following areas:

  • Virtual Exhibition Theme
  • Extended Activities
  • Artmaking Activities

Curatorial Research

The effectiveness of a virtual exhibition depends to a large extent on the quality of curatorial research and the exhibits or other materials that make up the exhibition. There are two main research directions:

  • Thematic Research: Collect extensive contextual information to establish a solid thematic framework and substantive content of the exhibition
  • Exhibit Research: to undertake exhibit research and collect relevant information through different types of online art databases, such as search engines, online learning resources, online art museum collections, online art museum collection catalogues, electronic archives and libraries, image-based social media networks, online virtual exhibitions or other image databases, etc.

Exhibit Selection

According to the chosen exhibition theme, select artworks from different periods and regions, and local and overseas museum collections or online learning resources to showcase in the virtual exhibition. The following are the main selection criteria:

  • Outstanding Work: Such as the artist's best work, the most special, or the work with an extraordinary story background
  • Representative Works: Such as exhibits that can best display the artistic style or genre, technique, medium or specific visual elements most relevant to a particular subject
  • Works that Arouse Interest in Learning: For example, works that resonate with students' daily experiences

Exhibition Text

Texts should be succinct and written according to students' comprehension level. Questions, quotes, comparisons, and personal stories can be added to spark student interest and help to build connection with exhibits.

  • Exhibition Introduction: Introduce the theme, main idea and sections of the exhibition, about 300-500 words
  • Exhibit Description: Provide information about the exhibits, links to other websites or databases can be included in it to help students understand the details of the exhibits. Each exhibit description is about 150 - 200 words

Other Classroom and Extended Learning Activities

Based on the chosen virtual exhibition theme, select part of the exhibits to design some related classroom activities and extended activities to connect face to face teaching and self-learning.

  • Classroom and Other Extended Learning Activities: Activities to strengthen contact with works of art and enrich learning and participation in virtual exhibitions, such as analysis and appreciation of works, group discussions or games
  • Artmaking Activities: Mainly activities that connect art criticism and art creation. Various interactive functions of virtual exhibitions can be flexibly used to help students collect relevant data, develop concepts, and practise skills for artmaking, etc.


  • Gabriela D., Cornel L. & Cristian C. (2014). Creating Virtual Exhibitions for Educational and Cultural Development. Informatica Economica, 18, 102–110.
  • Hubard, O. (2006). Activities in the art museum. NAEA Advisory, 1-2.
  • International Network for a Digital Cultural Heritage e-Infrastructure. (2012). Handbook on virtual exhibitions and virtual performances version 1.0, 18. Retrieved from Dedale website:
  • Katz, J. E. & Halpern, D. (2015). Can Virtual Museums Motivate Students? Toward a Constructivist Learning Approach. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 24(6), 776–788.
  • Lord, B., & Piacente, M. (2014). Manual of museum exhibitions. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Virtual Exhibition Exemplars

# Exhibition School / Author
1 Bravery Po Leung Kuk Camões Tan Siu Lin Primary School / Ms. Lau Kwan Chi, Vivien
2 The World of Robotic Animals Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Primary School / Ms. Chan Chai Yan
3 Weird Creatures Hong Kong Baptist University Affiliated School Wong Kam Fai Secondary and Primary School / Ms. Fok Sui Tong, Ahtong
4 Engaging with Art in Everyday Life Conservative Baptist Lui Ming Choi Primary School / Mr. Wong Ka Cheung
5 I/O HKTA The Yuen Yuen Institute No.3 Secondary School / Ms. Lee Sze Man
6 Sense of Place Methodist College / Ms. Lee Wai Yee
7 Ordinary People・Extraordinary Heroes HKTA The Yuen Yuen Institute No.3 Secondary School / Ms. Lee Sze Man
8 Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All? Hong Kong Baptist University Affiliated School Wong Kam Fai Secondary and Primary School / Ms. Fok Sui Tong, Ahtong
9 Flipping through the Bible - The Bible Tunnel Book in Making Conservative Baptist Lui Ming Choi Primary School / Mr. Wong Ka Cheung
10 Study Life Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Primary School / Ms. Chan Chai Yan
11 The Moment with My Pet Po Leung Kuk Camões Tan Siu Lin Primary School / Ms. Lau Kwan Chi, Vivien
12 Water Lily The Education University of Hong Kong / Chu Shuk Man
13 Tears and Laughter – Exploring Humour and Satire in Art The Education University of Hong Kong / Chu Yan Tung
14 From Individual Memories to Collective Memories - Constructing Visual Culture in Hong Kong The Education University of Hong Kong / Wong Wing Lam
15 Abstract Cityscape in Ink The Education University of Hong Kong / Yuen Yui Chit
16 Diligence and Perseverance – The World of the Labour The Education University of Hong Kong / Liu Ziqi
17 Capturing the Spirit of Place - Museum Architecture and Design The Education University of Hong Kong / Leung Ka Yan, Lillian
18 Pictograms – Classical Stories Told by Images The Education University of Hong Kong / Chan Hiu Yen, Hana
19 What a Wonderful World! The Education University of Hong Kong / Leung Ka Yan, Lillian
20 Loop and Nature – Protecting the Environment The Education University of Hong Kong / Liu Ziqi
21 Red – Entering the World of Colour Symbolism The Education University of Hong Kong / Ng Yan Chi, Besty
22 Re-enacting the Masterpieces – Reinterpretations of Classical Artworks in Pop Culture The Education University of Hong Kong / Dr. Tam Cheung On
23 Have Fun! – Traditional and Modern Children’s Games around the World The Education University of Hong Kong / Dr. Tam Cheung On