The Clark: Website

Imagine yourself in the pastoral setting of New England’s Berkshire mountains, surrounded by live music, French impressionists, and sculpture from across millennia on a 140-acre property dedicated to the preservation of the visual arts. Students of art history sit in the grass, surrounded by swaying wildflowers, sketching their current research of Turner and Cassat. While the Clark would love for all visitors to experience the museum in person, today’s reality is that people are increasingly experiencing the arts digitally, from their mobile or desktop devices. Therein lay our challenge: to not only showcase works of art, but create a work of art in itself.  

The Story

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is a world-class institution that possesses a dual mission as an art museum, as well as a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. This unique dual mission, along with a major physical expansion of the grounds, prompted the Clark to begin the process of overhauling its brand.  As the museum’s masterworks went on a two-year world tour, the museum embarked on these defining projects to renew both its physical and digital presence.

The project’s goal was to communicate the essence of the Clark Institute’s brand, physical presence, and the works of art that are housed within—without words, and in a digital form that would engage and delight visitors.  The desire was to break through the clutter of the usual, heavy museum websites, by creating a beautiful and simple user experience.

Along with online access to the museum’s extensive art collection, users needed seamless access to the museum’s events and ticketing systems.  With scattered systems that all needed to be integrated, including Raiser’s EdgeCounterpointOutbound, and eMuseum, we had our work cut out for us.  In addition to the web properties, the museum built a 10-foot LED outdoor pylon and indoor digital signage system to feature exhibitions and programming, which needed to be accounted for when building a content management solution.

In preparation for the opening of the new galleries, ATOM developed an online experience that brought the museum’s collection to the web, enabling enthusiasts and researchers to access and explore the prized works at the Clark from anywhere in the world. This was accomplished through a complete visual design implementation, migration to the Kentico CMS, and integration with the Clark’s major 3rd party systems. This customized CMS facilitated the control of content on internal and external digital displays along with the website content, enabling the Clark team to manage important web-based channels via one robust and secure portal. Did we mention this had to come together with perfect timing, to launch in concert with the Clark’s grand re-opening?

On launch day, we had risen to the challenge, met it, and exceeded it. The collective team’s hard work paid off, and the Clark saw an immediate and dramatic increase in site traffic. Prior to the site launch, the Clark site averaged 100,000 visits per month.  Soon after launch, the number of visits rose to 150,000 per month. In addition to the rise in traffic, the site saw increased visitor engagement, indicating that site content is now easier to navigate and consume.

The successful launch of the site initiated phase two in the plan: making the site mobile-adaptive. We designed and implemented a plan for a consolidated and minimized content offering, ensuring mobile users would have easy access to the information that is most important to them, buying tickets, museum information, exhibition and event dates. The Clark saw increased and more engaged traffic on the site from mobile devices almost immediately after launch. After just one month, the site saw more overall engagement from mobile visitors than desktop visitors, with 3x more pages per site visit on average.

This overhaul of the museum’s physical and digital properties has allowed the Clark to more effectively and actively communicate with its new and core audiences.  The updates have also brought to the museum significantly increased membership numbers, helping to bridge the digital divide. With coverage in the New York Times, among other industry praise, the museum is poised to move into the future, bringing the beauty of nature and the visual arts to the masses.

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