Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Do You Cite A Museum Exhibit?

Good good good good citations
I'm pickin' up good citations
You're giving me excitations
Good good good good citations [1]

One of my favorite and most prolific GeneaBloggers, Lisa of Small-leaved Shamrock, always sends me the best citation questions. She really knows how to keep the footnoteMaven on her toes.

This time her question was no exception, although the citation was. Lisa wrote last week asking how to cite a museum exhibit. Such a unique question! In checking Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, I found nothing I felt was appropriate. Elizabeth can not have thought of every situation. I turned to The Chicago Manual of Style and several university writing programs for an answer.

Here is how I suggest citing a museum exhibit in a source list/entry:

"Title of Exhibit." Name of Museum. Address of Museum. Date of Visit.


"Inside Ancient Egypt." The Field Museum. 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605. 22 January 2009.


[1] Wilson, Brian, and Mike Love. “Good Vibrations.” Lyrics. Good Vibrations, Single. Brian Wilson, 1966. Copyright ©1966 & 1978, Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Lyrics Freak ( : accessed 18 October 2007).


Blogger familytwigs said...

Thanks fM. I actually need this. I have a photo collection (there are several photos of my ancestors) that needs citing. Didn't have a clue, til now.

January 29, 2009 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Sheri my BBF:

Glad it helped. I'm always available for private consultation for you.


January 29, 2009 at 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post fM. Keep the good information coming. I've noticed several geneabloggers, when sourcing an archival photograph have started putting the following in the citation: [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,]. To me, when I see all caps in brackets, that's akin to reader instructions like [PUT AUTHOR'S NAME HERE,] where you would substitute the information required by the instruction - in this particular case, for your private use (like in your private GEDCOM), but when you publish the citation in an article for public reading, that bracketed information is simply left out showing only the city and state of the source. What is the preferred way to source an archival photograph?

Bob Franks

January 30, 2009 at 4:44 AM  
Blogger Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

You are always good at digging out those elusive citation formats! Thanks again for coming through.


January 30, 2009 at 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting question! I'd love to discuss this with FootnoteMaven offline, if she'd e-mail me. --ESM

January 30, 2009 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger GeneaDiva said...

Thanks for posting this timely article. My college son needs to cite an exhibit in his upcoming power point presentation.

January 31, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Family Curator said...

Great challenge! I checked by MLA guide and found a reference to citing works of art/photo/etc housed in a museum. Seems to me if you were citing an entire exhibit, it would be treated like a work authored by the museum --

Name of Museum. Title of Exhibit [underscored]. Title of Collection and Museum, city, date.

Of course, ALA and Chicago style are different from MLA.

MLA refers to: Eugene B. Fleisher, A Style Manual for Citing Microform and Nonprint Medida (Chicago: ALA, 1978).

Just to make things a bit more confusing ;>)

February 1, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thanks Denise:

I use the Chicago Manual of style only, and to add to the confusion, here are some things that would be cited as part of a Museum Exhibit:

Museum Pamphlet:
(abbreviated title of museum, colon, pamphlet): ( abbreviated title of museum: Pamphlet)
Museum Placard:
(abbreviated title of museum, colon, placard):
( abbreviated title of museum: Placard)
Museum Wall text:
(abbreviated title of museum, colon, wall text):
( abbreviated title of museum: Wall Text)
Museum Website:
(abbreviated title of museum, colon, web):
( abbreviated title of museum: Web)

Now this should scare all bloggers away.


February 1, 2009 at 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


March 21, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big help! I had to visit an art museum and had no clue how to cite it in a paper i had to write. It ook me forever to find out how but thanks!

November 22, 2009 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I was wondering if you would happen to know how one would go about citing the audio guide at a museum as a source; I had to visit an art museum for a school project and am using a considerable about of information obtained from the handheld audio guide and I have no idea how to cite that! thanks

August 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


I must admit I haven't seen this done before, so here is how I would handle it:

Bibliographic (Chicago Manual of Style) -

Audio Guide for "Title of Exhibit." Name of Museum. Address of Museum. Date of Visit.

If you know who is giving the audio guided tour, such as the exhibit or museum curator then I might do this:

Doe, Jane. Exhibit Curator. Audio Guide for "Title of Exhibit." Name of Museum. Address of Museum. Date of Visit.

Good luck! Citations are rather fluid in today's society.

Try this on your teacher or professor. If they have a suggestion, please let me know.


August 5, 2011 at 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ilu cause Field Museum

October 10, 2011 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shouldn't it be " you're giving me excitations "? And actually, despite using "Im" and "shes" a number of times, lyrics freak, and to my knowledge the song itself, never uses "your" or "you're".

January 5, 2013 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Yes, and no. Thanks!

January 5, 2013 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for the information! it is very useful, but I was wondering if the curator of the exhibition is known, shouldn't she/he be mentioned in the citation?

December 4, 2014 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

If you feel the curator is important to the work you're citing, add it. I would rather err on the side of too much information. There are no citation police.

December 4, 2014 at 10:06 AM  

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