Redesign expands walkerart.org from an Information and Promotion Hub to a First-of-its-kind Content Provider
Minneapolis, December 2, 2011— The Walker Art Center has launched a redesigned website (walkerart.org). The new site, the first major redesign since 2005, is envisioned as a publishing platform that is unique among museums worldwide. The current redesign centers on a fundamental reimagining of the site as a provider of content about the Walker’s artistic programs and the larger context of contemporary art.
The home page is overseen by a newly-hired web editor, award-winning journalist Paul Schmelzer, and showcases news stories, interviews, and essays written by Walker staff and others that examine contemporary art at the Walker and across the globe. In addition, a section called “Art News from Elsewhere” provides a curated list of annotated links to relevant stories about contemporary art. The Walker’s suite of blogs also appears on the new site along with content about the Minnesota cultural scene created by its affiliated website, mnartists.org. These new content areas are the predominant focus of the site, providing audiences with a mix of authored and aggregated content.
“The site enables the Walker to more easily connect archival and new content and current programs to the topics of today. It provides us with a voice in other conversations about contemporary art,” says Olga Viso, Walker Executive Director. “Our blogs have long done that, but now the entire homepage is dedicated to making these connections on a more robust scale. As a contemporary art center, it is incumbent upon us to not only provide a platform for the artists we present and collect, but to find ways to have artist voices—and our voices—heard beyond the Walker’s galleries, stages, and cinema.”
The Walker’s award-winning publishing program will also benefit from the new website. Andrew Blauvelt, the Walker’s Chief of Communications and Audience Engagement, explains: “The Walker’s new website offers an online platform to frame and disseminate the ideas and scholarship for which the Walker is known. The site offers the Walker the ability to help free its content from traditional media silos, whether exhibition catalogs, gallery brochures, interpretive videos, or our members’ magazine. This is the first phase of a longer-term commitment to make our content available where our audiences are.”
“We think the new site is unlike any other museum website anywhere,” said Robin Dowden, the Walker’s Director of New Media Initiatives. “It represents a pioneering shift in the role of museums online, placing the Walker at the center of local, national, and global conversations about contemporary art.” Dowden led the site’s redesign along with Emmet Byrne, Design Director, and Blauvelt.
Other new, ongoing content sections include:
• From the Archives: Objects featured from the Walker’s archival material, often with a tie to current events;
• Minnesota Art News: Art criticism and essays from mnartists.org, the free online arts hub for Minnesota artists (jointly supported by the Walker and the McKnight Foundation); and
• Artspeaks: Artists, curators, and critics talking about contemporary art in their own words. Posts from the Walker’s acclaimed blogs and webcasts of Walker programs from the Walker Channel will also continue.
Additional new features on the site include:
• overhauled “Calendar” and “Visit” sections tailored to reflect visitor feedback about the previous website, with streamlined and more accessible information;
• enhanced search functionality (one search across the entire site with faceted results);
• better tagging and categorization tools;
• multi-platform compatibility (mobile, tablet); and
• social network integration.
Though the redesign has been applied to most major sections of the site, some additional sections will continue to be updated over the next year, including areas devoted the Walker’s collections, blogs, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.