Experiencing art can be a profound, enlightening or even a life-changing experience. Getting to the art gallery, however, can be a journey filled with challenges and require lots of planning in our constantly busier lives.
SMK - The National Gallery of Denmark has a clear strategy to activate more target groups and reach more people. At the same time, they want art to go beyond the physical confines of the gallery and into the digital sphere.
When SMK asked us to design their new website, we wanted to address both the practical and profound:
- Research a variety of target groups and find out what challenges they experience when planning a trip to the museum
- Explore how we could connect the digital experience of art with the physical art gallery
How can we get an understanding of the challenges that keep people from a visit to the museum?
We set out to uncover what really matters to people before their actual visit to the gallery. We tested a host of challenges, desires and needs with a wide variety of test persons to find solutions that help users with their key challenges without overloading them with unnecessary information.
The process already started at the pitch. Instead of illustrating how we would answer to tedious requirements specifications or impress with enticing examples of how key page types might come to look, we investigated into a narrow user scenario:
HOW TO PLAN A VISIT WITH CHILDREN?
In order to gain insights, we used Value Proposition Canvas, Customer Journey Mapping, and started formulating hypotheses.
Based on the insights, we created a prototype that we tested with a group of small children.
How can we connect the digital and physical experience?
Art can be experienced everywhere. But art at a gallery – or more generally, exhibited art – has the unique potential to obtain full attention to the art object and exclude everything else – context, the noise of the world and everyday worries alike.
The visual experience of the website found inspiration in the frame, as a metaphor for the exclusive focus. The frame gives different pieces of content full focus and calls upon us to exclude everything else. And correspondingly, the absence of the frame widens the perspective and brings us back into the more practical realm.
The design, in general, drew much inspiration from the physical features of the museum. The structuring of images in the website's grid echoes the free composition of paintings on the walls in the gallery at Østre Anlæg.
The differently colored walls, complimenting the curated works, are also seen in the digital context where the colour palette is free, so that the given content is presented as good as possible.
In opposition to indifference
The result is a digital experience with equal weight on the art experience and how to experience art.
“The website is an inner journey into the DNA of the institution”
- Jonas Heide Smith, Digital Lead at SMK
We are currently collaborating on a digital service making the entire art collection of SMK accessible online. This includes a comprehensive collection in their vault, which is rarely exhibited.