Three Online Exhibits Explore Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello
- By Kathy McHoes
- April 4, 2012
Client: Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Project: Three Online Exhibits Explore Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello
Developed in conjunction with two physical exhibits, one on site at Monticello and another hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty, Getting Word: African American Families of Monticello, and Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row provide a comprehensive online exploration of the lives of individuals who lived and worked at Jefferson’s plantation and the descendants of Monticello’s enslaved families.
The history of Monticello’s enslaved community is illuminated through audio and video of those descended from Monticello’s enslaved families, compelling 3D animations of the spaces where individuals lived and worked, and interpretive text exploring themes including resistance, religion, and race. These websites add a human dimension to the Monticello narrative, allowing visitors to contemplate the legacy of Jefferson from the perspective of those who labored for him and expand our understanding of his paradoxical legacy.
Designed to complement the physical exhibitions and align with Monticello.org, the individual websites immerse visitors within individual stories, the lost spaces of Mulberry Row, and the diaspora of Monticello’s descendants, encouraging exploration and discovery. Rich media elements including video, period imagery and interactive maps, combine with call-outs to highlight related resources throughout the sites and create an integrated online experience for visitors.
The Drupal-based websites are integrated with the existing web presence for Monticello, allowing for cross-pollinated information and seamless navigation. Visitors can watch videos, listen to stories, wander along maps, browse galleries and contemplate the hard decisions slaves made. Within each site, visitors can use their Monticello.org community membership to comment, tag, and favorite material, engaging in a continuing dialogue on the complex legacy of those who lived and worked at Monticello.