Guidelines for Exhibition Processing & Recommended Timelines

On this page, library staff will find an overview of processing and recommended timelines for on-campus exhibitions as well as links to timelines for specific exhibition sizes and factors that may lengthen the timelines. Please note that these timelines do not include any information about loaned collections. If your exhibition will include a loan from another campus location or external institution, we recommend that you consider the loan separately and follow the timelines provided for Incoming Loans.

Recommended timelines for exhibition processing are designed to help libraries planning exhibitions ensure that there is adequate time for all major steps in the exhibition process, including the completion of the Checklist Template, an Exhibition Review, conservation treatment, imaging, exhibition preparation, rehousing and de/installation. To begin working with the timelines the library will need to: 

Timelines vary by installation size (large, medium, or small), which is determined by the number of exhibition cases being used or the total number of objects being displayed.  There are also other exhibition factors that may extend the timelines

The exhibition organizer acts as the point person for the exhibit, manages deadlines, and facilitates communication among all stakeholders in the process. This role can be filled by a single person or a team of people with defined responsibilities.  

Stakeholders typically include representatives from collections (e.g., collection manager, curator, bibliographic/subject specialist), a conservator (format-specific), a preparator (e.g., conservation technician), and a library contact (a library staff member performing registrarial functions). Depending on the library undertaking the exhibition, specific collections being considered for display, and publicity for the exhibition, stakeholders may also include imaging staff, an AV coordinator, a digital projects coordinator, a designer, and facilities/operations staff, as well as relevant input from guest curators, donors, and school deans.  

If exhibition stakeholders include faculty or students, please see the Guidelines for Course Exhibitions & Temporary Teaching Exhibitions

Questions?  Check out our FAQ or email preserve_wpc@harvard.edu.