National Museum of Asian Art

The Challenge

How do you create a virtual museum experience that rivals the in-person visit? The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art—with more than 45,000 objects dating from the Neolithic period to the present, from the ancient Near East to China, Japan, Korea, South, and Southeast Asia, and the Islamic world—partnered with us to do just that.

Visitors have reacted positively to the updated look and feel of our website, specifically the bold design that echoes the museum’s branding, the sleeker layout, and the mobile responsiveness.

Sarah Yarrito
Project Manager, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art

The Solution

Much like the physical museum, the website aims to be a space where objects and perspectives intersect to enrich a shared understanding of Asia and the world. The framework emphasized careful cultural considerations to avoid exoticizing Asian art and culture and leveraged idfive’s “yes and…” approach. 

  • Yes, engage the curious, enthusiastic novice and the curator/scholar.
  • Yes, create a “third campus” and give in-person visitors the information they need.
  • Yes, “wow” online audiences with genre-breaking virtual experiences, and be realistic about what can be delivered when and at what scale.
  • Yes, stimulate conversation and maintain the museum’s authority and expertise.
  • Yes, tell the story behind and beyond the art and highlight the uniqueness of the museum’s collection.
  • Yes, highlight past and present Asian cultures and break down cultural barriers and biases. 
  • Yes, emphasize the arts of Asia and tell the story of their connection to the United States through the collection of American art.

The website design created the museum’s “third gallery”—a space where the full breadth of the museum’s offerings is easily accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Visitors can access collections through multiple pathways, including collection-specific pages, curated thematic pages under the Art Stories feature, and direct searches.

 

People from 199 countries have visited the site since its launch.

 

Dynamically generated results put each visitor in the driver’s seat of their own museum tour or deep dive into the collections. Users enjoy the “Show me something” feature on the homepage, which randomly presents objects from the collection based on predefined moods. The animated navigational explorer that guides users to the Art Stories feature from the “Explore Art + Culture” landing page has also been a popular and engaging entry point, with “Red” as the the clear favorite as a topic of inquiry and exploration.

 

Site visits have increased 23% compared to the same period last year.

Mason Now: Power the Possible

George Mason University – Mason Now

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