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 proud to have helped creating SMK Open - an immersive digital catalogue making the entire art collection of SMK accessible online. Including a comprehensive collection in their vault, which is rarely exhibited.
You will now be able to search through more than 40,000 different pieces of art and explore them in detail. It is possible to filter colors, artists or subjects along with a number of other choices.
Leveraging SMK’s own public API, and by adding Machine Learning, artworks can now be experienced, studied and utilized on different levels in your own time and place.
The site is meant to be easily accessible by everyone interested in art, but also serves as an important resource for professionals within the art world.
3D models, high-resolution images, explanatory texts as well as audio and video will shape your exploration. We’ve analyzed all images using artificial intelligence and thereby added a wide range of keywords using object recognition, and enabled color search. Also, the artwork photos can be downloaded for free use to the widest possible extent.