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Our Favorite Museum Websites (And What You Can Learn from Them)

Tasked with driving ticket sales and donations while also sparking a sense of wonder and awe, these four museum websites are best in class.

Museum Websites Cover

By Erica Harmon

At their core, the best museum website designs give users a glimpse of what they can expect when they visit and offer opportunities to explore, plan a trip and donate. But achieving these desired outcomes requires strategic content, seamless UX and compelling storytelling. Here are four sites to inspire your museum’s next website redesign.

Heard Museum

Since its founding in 1929, the Heard Museum in Phoenix has grown in size — and stature — to become recognized internationally as one of the world’s preeminent museums for the presentation, interpretation and advancement of American Indian art. When the Heard team tasked C/A with its website redesign, we set out to create a digital representation of the museum’s distinct perspective. By integrating large visuals of museum spaces, exhibitions and experiences, the new website conveys the excitement and breadth of a visit to this Southwestern treasure.

The takeaway: Show off your space with large visuals and engaging videos right from the jump to give users a sense of what it’s like to be there.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Founded by philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton, the mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature — and its website is an integral part of achieving that mission. The site’s strategically designed homepage grabs users’ attention fast, helping them feel a sense of belonging and excitement, all while guiding them to become a member or make a donation.

The takeaway: Keeping accessibility in mind, use strategic design elements to create clear navigation and calls to action for visitors to your museum website.

Taliesin West

Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved winter home and desert laboratory, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and National Historic Landmark nestled in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona. Deeply connected to the desert from which it was forged, this architectural icon possesses an almost prehistoric grandeur and is among the most personal of Wright’s creations, so it’s only fitting that its website should feel like an extension of his signature style. Sparing use of Wright’s signature red draws attention and entices users to click, while subtle uses of sky blue and prairie-field green evoke Wright’s love of nature. Meanwhile, the geometric shapes that inspired and grounded so much of the architect’s work punctuate headlines and other key elements.

The takeaway: Use restraint when it comes to integrating different design elements in your website design. Just as Wright embraced simplicity, the foundation’s website embraces this maxim with a clean, white canvas that allows his vision to shine.

The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world, and a large part of its mission is to engage worldwide audiences by providing access to collections, exhibits and oral histories through distance learning, new media and creative museum experiences. To that end, the museum’s website functions as an immersive hub of information and resources, telling the story of World War II in a way that ensures its legacy is never forgotten.

The takeaway: Tap into the power of storytelling to assert your institution’s authority on a given topic. By creating rich, engaging content, the digital experience can serve as an extension of the museum itself.

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Erica Harmon Yellow
Erica Harmon Editor

Erica has more than a decade of experience leading messaging development, content strategy and magazine projects for clients in the higher education, hospitality, book publishing and museum industries. At C/A, she helps clients such as Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Niagara Falls USA and Northern Arizona University bring their unique stories to life.

Erica enjoys traveling to places that have pop culture connections: She’s seen all the Goonies sites in Astoria, Oregon, flown through time and space with Doctor Who in Cardiff, Wales, and sang on the Sound of Music hills in Salzburg, Austria. She loves books, magazines, road trips, Broadway musicals and cottagecore activities such as gardening and sewing, but her favorite thing to do is spend time with her fiancé and stepcat.

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