GLAMi nomination: Kerry James Marshall: Mastry–Microsite

nominated by: Joe Iverson, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, USA
institution: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension

This microsite was created for the Kerry James Marshall: Mastry exhibition, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. At the MCA, where the site was installed on iPads in the exhibition space, it provided insight for the works in the exhibition and was an important source of context for Marshall’s complex (and often massive) paintings. Built as a website rather than an app, the site is a scholarly resource and, like other MCA exhibition microsites, serves (along with the exhibition catalogue), as the exhibition’s permanent record, a valuable repository of research materials and exhibition documentation. Traffic for the MCA’s other microsites is robust, with significant visitorship continuing long after the close of the exhibitions.

The site is designed into four sections, a chronology, works in detail, essays from the book, and information about the exhibition itself.

The chronology, titled The History of the World According to Kerry James Marshall, is the landing page of the site: it surveys events from 1425 to the present that demonstrate Marshall’s influences and interests. The timeline provides essential context for Marshall’s project to rewrite art history by inserting black figures into the key genres of art from the Renaissance to now. The right-hand side of the timeline contains related works by Marshall, and is augmented by links to images and other internet resources.

The Works in Detail section demonstrates the range and complexity of Marshall’s source material and references. The section features paintings annotated with anecdotes, links, and musical excerpts.

The section of essays represents scholarship from the exhibition catalogue and was an important resource for visitors during the three-month window when the catalogue–which has sold 17,500 copies–was out of stock during the Met run of the show.

The final section About the Exhibition captures information on the exhibition at the MCA Chicago. It includes the introductory wall text, the checklist for the exhibition, information about the catalogue, and the 7-minute exhibition video featuring the artist himself explaining his project to create an alternative art historical canon in which black figures are the subjects of paintings from every genre of art from the fifteenth century onward.