Museums and other organizations create online exhibitions for many reasons. For example, an online exhibition may: expand on material presented at, or generate interest in, or create a durable online record of, a physical exhibition; save production costs (insurance, shipping, installation); solve conservation/preservation problems (e.g., handling of fragile or rare objects); reach lots more people: "Access to information is no longer restricted to those who can afford travel and museum visits, but is available to anyone who has access to a computer with an Internet connection.
Unlike physical exhibitions, online exhibitions are not restricted by time; they are not forced to open and close but may be available 24 hours a day.
In the nonprofit world, many museums, libraries, archives, universities, and other cultural organizations create online exhibitions. A database of such exhibitions is Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web. Online exhibitions are also increasingly being utilized by businesses and individuals.
The earliest museum with a physical existence to create a programme of substantial online exhibitions with high resolution images of artefacts was the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, the first of which, The Measurers: a Flemish Image of Mathematics in the Sixteenth Century and an exhibition of early photographs, were published on 21 August 1995.
- Klaus Müller. "Going Global: Reaching Out for the Online Visitor". American Association of Museums. Retrieved October 6, 2011..
- Wolf, Lauren (11 October 2011). "4 Tips to Engage and Inform Attendees in Your Digital Event". INXPO. Retrieved 3 June 2013..
- Thiel, S. (2007). Build It Once: A Basic Primer for the Creation of Online Exhibitions. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 081085225X
- Kalfatovic, M. (2002). Creating a Winning Online Exhibition: A Guide for Libraries, Archives, and Museums. American Library Association. ISBN 0838908179.
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