National Gallery of Australia Website Redevelopment

Home to the most valuable collection of art in the country, we helped bring this institution closer to the Australian population through a new digital platform.

View the live project

Areas of expertise

  • Accessibility
  • Information Architecture
  • User Experience Design
  • Wagtail Development

A national institution for a digital century

As one of the nation’s leading cultural organisations, the National Gallery of Australia is at the forefront of promoting and developing the arts right across the country. However, until recently, its online presence did not match the knowledge, resources and ambition for a national institution of its calibre.

To help further reinforce their position as a gallery for the whole of Australia, the NGA digital team partnered closely with the Interaction Consortium on a complete rebuild of the website.

In a collaboration with noted Australian designers Meld Studios and Studio Ongarato, we developed a new digital platform for the next decade. The resulting site won Best Institution Website at the 2022 MAPDA Awards.

Screenshot of the NGA website homepage
Tablet view of NGA website pages
Screenshots of the NGA website in mobile view
Composite image of various pages from the NGA website in mobile view

IC kept the visitor experience at the heart of the build, and they were able to deliver a fantastic result that keeps us flexible for whatever the future brings.

Keir Winesmith,
Head of Digital, NGA

A tailor-made, component-driven Content Management System

With such a rich cultural program and a corresponding wealth of content, providing the flexibility to bring the site to life in a wide range of contexts was imperitive. This is especially true for NGA’s flagship activities: their exhibitions.

With a broad range of content components, custom created for the needs of the NGA Digital Team, content editors have all the tools they need to bring the artist’s voice to the foreground and help promote the exhibition, as well as connect to the vast amount of related events and content throughout the site.

The storied history of NGA isn’t forgotten either. An archive allows users to step back in time and search through past exhibitions, both by decade as well art movement or style.

NGA website exhibition page - Cressida Campbell show
Screenshot of the CMS user interface showing the component library
Mobile views of the NGA exhibition page
NGA exhibition archive page

Connecting art and artists to the Australian public

The National Gallery of Australia’s aim is to inspire all Australians, with a firm belief that art is for everyone, no matter where they live or what their background is. With a national footprint and an extensive range of exhibitions and events, it was imperative to have a What’s On calendar that reflected this.

It was important to communicate to the public that the gallery was more than just a physical place you went to while visiting the capital Canberra, and that its cultural reach goes far beyond the capital.

A specific system of categorisation based on the “presence” of an exhibition or event was created. Users can view what is on offer either at the gallery itself, on tour, livestreamed online, or as on demand content. An being the National Gallery, it defaults to everywhere of course.

In addition, a series of “status” pills are automatically displayed on individual promo cards that signal certain key information to the users, not just in the What’s On calendar but throughout the site. Theses notably include a “Near You” status based on whether the exhibition/event is located near where the user is, as well as a countdown timer leading up to the start of a livestream event, all managed via the CMS of course.

Tablet views of the NGA What's On page
Mobile views of the NGA What's On page
Screenshots of the NGA CMS user interface showing options for an events/exhibitions presence
Details of NGA website components highlighting an event/exhibition status

A seamless ticketing experience with Tessitura integration

Like many arts and cultural organizations, NGA uses Tessitura for its event management and ticketing. To ensure a seamless user experience, it was therefore necessary to ensure that both the website and NGA’s Tessitura platform were closely integrated.

Events and Exhibitions that have been entered by NGA’s ticketing team are synched daily into the website CMS, making them available for the digital team to pull all relevant data from a unique source of truth. This includes vital information such as when tickets are no longer available or when an event has ended.

A custom stylesheet was also created to help align Tessitura’s ecommerce platform TNEW with the NGA brand.

Detail of NGA CMS User Interface showing Tessitura synched data
NGA Event page detail showing ticketing information from Tessitura
Detail of NGA website event component showing real-time status synched from Tessitura
Screenshot of customised TNEW eCommerce platform

Enhancing the visitor experience, both at the gallery and virtually

Extending beyond the website itself, we designed and developed a system for building guided tours. Managed entirely within the same CMS, these tours take the user on a journey through an exhibition with immersive content such as explanatory audio, musical accompaniments, or even the artist’s voice itself.

Being web-based, visitors to the gallery can use their own device without needing to rely on availability. Users at home can also enjoy a “virtual” tour of the exhibition, with a desktop-optimised view that highlights the works of art.

Tours are also supported with accompanying learning resources, with users able to make their own selections for reuse and presentation in the classroom.

Mobile screenshots of the NGA WebApp Audio Guide
Mobile screenshots of NGA WebApp Learning Resources
NGA WebApp desktop view

NGA On Demand

Being the nation’s leading arts institution, NGA has a wealth of video and audio content, much of which remained difficult for the public to access on the old site. As part of the digital transformation, exposing this content to a wider audience was a key goal.

The solution was to develope an “On Demand” section of the website, with it’s own system of categorisation and seperate archives for video and audio content.

Connections are dymanically made between media of similar categories, as well being able to define relationships with works of art and artists from the online collection itself. A veritable channel for users to binge on.

Screenshot of NGA On Demand archive
On Demand video page detail
Mobile views of NGA On Demand video page
NGA On Demand audio page

The mirroring of the brutalist new brand in stark black and white across the site does a great job of highlighting the art and the content.

The What's On calendar redevelopment is very elegant and easy to use with the different categories of program clearly delineated.

Similarly, the On Demand archive functionality is impressive given the number of assets on offer; well-laid out and very intuitive.

Judges Comment
MAPDA 2022 Awards
Winner Best Institution Website
Best in Show - Digital

The Interaction Consortium
ABN 20 651 161 296
Sydney office
Level 5 / 48 Chippen Street
Chippendale NSW 2008

tel: 1300 43 78 99

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