Research Article

Impact of an Institutional Repository on Viewers’ Experiences of a Student Art Exhibition

  • Elaine J. Watson (Boise State University)
  • Ellie Dworak (Boise State University)


Introduction: Since 2014, Boise State University’s institutional repository (IR) has included artwork from Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) exhibitions. This paper explores how the experience of viewing artwork at an in-person BFA exhibition differs from that of viewing an online representation of it, makes recommendations to increase viewer engagement with online representations of artwork, and suggests ways that online exhibitions can enhance in-person viewing. Method: The authors conducted two surveys, one of in-person exhibition attendees and one of online exhibition viewers. Fixed-answer results were analyzed quantitatively, whereas an inductive qualitative coding process was used to analyze survey comments. Results: In-person participants were more likely to view all the artwork, spend more time at the exhibition, and view individual artwork for longer. Online participants were more likely to view artists’ statements. Online survey participants who attended the in-person exhibition preferred the in-person exhibition. Discussion: Results point toward a need to increase online viewers’ engagement with exhibition artwork, many of them centered around improving the usability of the IR interface. Finally, several benefits of the online environment are noted. Conclusion: Although the online representation of the art exhibition in the IR is not a complete replacement for the in-person exhibition, it is a representation that the authors believe can positively influence a viewer’s experience of the BFA exhibition, whether they have viewed the in-person exhibition or not. Respondents’ comments in both surveys provided suggestions for improving the two exhibitions, as well as insights into how IR exhibitions enhance the in-person exhibition experience.

Keywords: institutional repositories, art exhibitions, art exhibits, viewing art online, academic libraries, visual art, library collaborations

How to Cite:

Watson, E. J. & Dworak, E., (2022) “Impact of an Institutional Repository on Viewers’ Experiences of a Student Art Exhibition”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 10(1). doi:

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Published on
22 Apr 2022
Peer Reviewed