An Expanded Site on the Web

September 4, 2014

The giant crane that once hoisted building materials into the new facility during our renovation and expansion project is long gone. Yet there is a different kind of building project still going on: the redesign of the museums’ website. The expanded site is set to launch in time for the museums’ November 16 public opening and, like our state-of-the-art facility, it aims to define what it means to be a 21st-century museum.

For over a year, our Design and Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology departments have been working with Area 17, an interactive agency, to redesign and build the museums’ website. Area 17 is known for blending design and technology to create modern interactive systems—all key components of the Harvard Art Museums’ Web presence. The new site will be fully accessible on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. With a clean and intuitive design that subtly incorporates the 365-day color spectrum featured in Index, the refreshed site will make the museums’ collections and resources more accessible than ever before.

Having a website that is synced with the museums’ multifaceted programming is a crucial element of the redesign. “We want there to be synergy between the website and what’s actually happening at the museums, so that they’re not separate entities,” said Steven Waldron, the museums’ creative director.

When the new site is up and running, visitors will be able to engage with the museums in new ways. For instance, while walking through the building, visitors will be able to access an interactive map on their device to help guide them through the galleries. They can also take digital tours and find additional information about select objects on view. And while browsing the museums’ online calendar, they’ll be able to flag exhibitions, talks, and performances they’d like to attend so that they receive reminders.

The site’s new platform also improves work that is happening behind the scenes; our technologists will have direct access to the data that feeds into the site, giving them more flexibility. This way, we can continue to better understand and enhance the visitor experience at the Harvard Art Museums—both online and in person.