Website and Online Application Development Expertise for Museum / Cultural Institutions
In the last several years, NetReach has been engaged in projects for high-profile cultural institutions. The Web has become an increasingly important platform for these clients as they expand their operations to include services and activities that serve diverse audiences. An article in the New York Times, dateline March 2009, by Cathy Vogel sums this up:
To reach new and bigger audiences, many [museums] are revamping their presence on the Web or trying new forms of marketing.
Most, if not all, are also expanding their public programs. More than before, institutions big and small have adopted the same mission: to transform once-hushed museums into vibrant cultural centers where the activities go far beyond what’s hanging on the walls.
“We can’t just be about art anymore,” Ms. Philbin [Director of the Hammer Museum, part of the University of California, Los Angeles] said. “Museums are the new community centers.”
Whether visitors come to see a movie or listen to poetry, take in an art exhibition, or attend a lecture, it doesn’t matter as long as they come.
“The better we are at serving our audiences, the more we will be appreciated,” Ms. Philbin said. “And people will want to give us money.”
Cultural institutions are complex multi-layered organizations that must serve diverse audiences, both internal and external, and support their goals with a range of web-based functions. NetReach has delivered projects that have integrated these and other web-based tools to support these types of requirements:
- Development and membership: Communicate benefits, the ability to join or renew, and accept donations.
- Researchers, preservation, and archives: Communicate what this entails, and include a library, archival information, and content search aids.
- Permanent and special exhibitions: Search and interact with the permanent collection, publish information and related media on current and future exhibitions (including ancillary events and programs), archive past exhibitions, calendaring functions, plan your visit functions (maps, hours, etc.), and personalization functions.
- Public programs/events, and education: Class and program registration and calendaring functions, ticketing, and seating capacity.
- Community outreach: Web intranet sections to support community programs and special user-bases, such as, community theater, social media outreach, etc.
- Rights and reproductions: Request permission forms.
- The board of directors: Intranet functions and document repository.
- Staff and volunteers: Integrate third-party recruitment tools, volunteer intranet, and calendar functions
- Shopping: Online store commerce functions.
The following projects (described below) are selected examples of our work.
- Pennsylvania Academy Of Fine Arts — Museum and School of Fine Arts.
- Historic Christ Church & Burial Ground in Philadelphia — National Historic Landmark site.
- Chicago Field Museum's Underground Adventure — Permanent Exhibition Online.
- Parkway Museums District — Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia Cultural Arts District.
NetReach was selected in a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) to update their website. The RFP called for a fully-content managed website using a newly developed set of graphical standards—including a redesigned logo, font usage and colors. Existing web-based functions needed to be maintained or enhanced. The site's architecture, navigation, and usability both for staff and site visitors needed to be upgraded.
An authentic American historic site—still doing today what it started doing 312 years ago. Families and groups can visit the church and burial ground to gain a deeper understanding of early U.S. history and the importance of religious freedom. The magnificent Georgian building is home to an active, modern-day Christian congregation. The website serves the Historic Preservation Trust, the Church and its Congregation, as well as Community needs.
The Underground Adventure is an intriguing permanent installation that allows families and school children to experience life under the soil by "shrinking them" down to less than the size of penny and allowing them to interact with exhibits, including underground inhabitants such as giant June beetle larva, mole crickets, and earwigs. Visitors crawl inside an abandoned cicada exoskeleton, visit the science research lab and see baby animals and plants, learn how plant roots use friendly bacteria to prosper, and much more.
As a companion to this permanent exhibit on soil science, The Field Museum wanted to create a fun online destination that attracts teachers, parents, and young scientists alike. NetReach worked with MMS Education, who conducted usability interviews to identify challenges with the existing Underground Adventure website, developed launch strategy, content, and curricula. NetReach designed and built the website including a Virtual Tour to encourage visits to the museum exhibit, and added a Critter Quiz game with an "email-a-friend" feature to promote viral marketing of the site.
Conceived prior to the Civil War, and built in fits and starts during the first third of the twentieth century; the grand boulevard that crosses William Penn's orderly grid on a diagonal was one of only a few such ambitious "city beautiful" urban design projects to have been completed in America. Philadelphians are rightly proud of this vibrant, colorful mile that contains extraordinary museums, exceptional schools, businesses, and residences, and serves as a civic setting for many major city events.
NetReach is currently working with the Parkway Council Foundation to design and build a website that will showcase the Parkway as a destination and its member institutions and organizations as great places to visit, learn, and live in. The site will aggregate data in a standard format and act as a quick directory to the members' websites.