Why are gallery and museum websites so exhibition focused when most online visitors will never walk though their doors? Art gallery websites are marketing tools primarily. They also function as research repositories for collections. But increasingly they might also act as incubators for our thoughts. Digital editors are commissioning and publishing new writing, audio and video, as well as bringing legacy content to new audiences.
Five years of closure after the Canterbury earthquakes forced us torethink how we initiated conversations about art. We wanted to build a bigger audience, to take Christchurch Art Gallery to the rest of the world.
Our website is technically very simple: it provides a framework that allows us to tell good stories about art. An important concept behind it was generosity. We wanted to position the Gallery as an aggregator of ideas, allowing visitors to easily access free content. We also realised that due to social media use, every page had to act as a kind of micro homepage, bringing together related content that might lead visitors to new discoveries and unexpected areas of our collection.
The major shift has been the move to what is effectively an online magazine. While keeping our collection at the core of our activities, we wanted to provide a space where we could expand on and share our ideas about current issues in art.While visitors to the site have increased, and time spent browsing is up, we still see this as being a work in progress. The ultimate goal is that the website is a ld"time suckrd"for its readers.
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