TimelineJS is created by the Northwestern University Knight Lab. It is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines. Beginners can create a timeline using nothing more than a Google spreadsheet. Experts can use their JSON skills to create custom installations, while keeping TimelineJS’s core functionality.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.17.07 PM

Ellen. “TimelineJS (Knight Lab)” 12 October 2015. Online image. 

Making a Timeline is easy for everyone. It is free to public and does not require sign-up or registration. Moreover, users do not need to download it. They can access the tool online. Besides, TimelineJS can pull in media from a variety of sources. The media types that TimelineJS supports are Image (URL ends in jpg, gif, png, or jped), online videos (YouTubeDailyMotion, and Vine), SoundCloudTwitterGoogle MapsGoogle PlusInstagramFlickrImgurDocumentCloudWikipediaStorifyIframeBlockquote, and Embedly.

Here are some tips to make a good Timeline:

  1. Keep it short. The Timeline is better no more than 20 slides.
  2. Pick stories that have strong chronological narrative. It does not work well for stories that need to jump around in the timeline.
  3. Write each event as a part of a larger narrative.
  4. Include events that build up to major occurrences – not just the major events.

The tool has a unique format for content creation that is especially useful for nonprofits. Arts organizations can use TimelineJS to show audiences the organizations’ history, past, current, and future programs, and events’ schedule. Usually, arts organizations express their history by words. The long history articles actually  is easy to make audiences feel bored and tired. However, TimelineJS can interact with audiences. Slides with short sentences, images, and videos provide audiences a much interesting and impressive experience.

Below are some good examples of arts organization that are currently using TimelineJS in efficient way:

Oakland Symphony:


Baltimore Symphony:


Graffiti and Street Art Museum:


De Young Museum:


Those arts organizations use TimelineJS to show audiences their history. The brief introduction effectively give audiences an overall background of what happened during the period. Moreover, the proper pictures that the organizations chose are very impressive and interesting for audiences.

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