Working with museums, libraries and other collections-based cultural institutions over the last six years, IC realised that cultural institutions were under-served by the CMSes available to them, and so we decided to see what we could contribute.
Cultural institutions are all different, but they have a few key things in common: they are open to the public and run rich programmes of events, they have valuable collections, they need sponsors and supporters.
However, these commonalities are only part of the picture: cultural institutions define themselves by what they do that no one does; and they place great value on strong visual design to create unique meaningful cultural experiences for people.
These priorities make cultural institutions, as web customers, very demanding. They need serious nuts and bolts, but aren’t interested in cookie-cutter solutions – they want something to suit their visitors and themselves. To put it another way, they make us work extra hard!
The Django framework, which IC uses for complex sites like these, was the ideal basis on which to build a new, open-source web framework. Django (known as ‘the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines’) is used in world-leading sites for handling data in its natural form and rapidly bringing it to life on the web in a way that is reliable and future-proof. Django lets us encapsulate our knowledge about the most important and complex features our clients needed into the framework. We based our first version on the site we built for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and we called this new platform GLAMkit.
The next website we used GLAMkit for was that of the National Film and Sound Archive. During this project, GLAMkit evolved into a collection of tools from which clients could choose and customise to create sites that fulfilled their needs. These tools include support for rich and repeating events listings, articles, blog posts, sponsorship, comments, user-generated favourites lists, anti-SPAM and SEO.
Since then, we have used parts of GLAMkit in almost every site we’ve built. Around the world, other developers are using it as well.
In 2012, IC built the site for Australia’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which formed the basis for a self-contained GLAMkit CMS, an integrated platform that contains the most important publishing tools for cultural institutions, with unlimited room for integration, customisation and upgrades. The GLAMkit CMS features:
- Rich content editing throughout – flexible layout, text, images, videos, file attachments, inter-content links, all entered in a design-savvy way
- Powerful image and file libraries which allow files to be used and reused in any context
- A powerful what’s on section, including exhibitions, venues, programmes and events that repeat and vary
- A sponsorship tool that allows any content to be sponsored, and works with the rigorous demands of sponsor logo sizing and placement
- A ‘visit us’ tool to quickly set up opening hours, maps and facilities
- Pages, articles and blogs, all with comments, tags and categories
- A collection app that allows content publishers to add educational materials
- A simple mobile site that shows events and contact information from the same database (in fact, GLAMkit works as a solution for museums who only need a mobile site)
- APIs for events, collection and venue info, allowing the info to be used in apps, collection aggregators and even lobby signage.
In addition to the standard toolkit, which is free and open-source, IC also provides add-ons to fulfil functions such as ticketing, donation and shop e-commerce, membership databases, and real-time integration with 3rd-party systems such as collection systems, shop inventories, and library databases.
We expect that more small and medium museums will begin using GLAMkit, modifying it to suit each organisation. Larger museums with more complex needs and bigger budgets will be able to quickly road test it as an option when upgrading their websites, and extend it as appropriate.
In the future, we will be creating specialised versions for different kinds of organisations, like public gardens and zoos, as well as major events and festivals.
If you'd like to see how GLAMkit can work for your organisation, get in touch.