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The Van Gogh Museum

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Summary

  • The world-famous museum, based in Amsterdam approached Dept and Q42 to brush up the Van Gogh Museum’s virtual experience wondering: “Can we create a digital experience that would have made Vincent proud?”
  • With a colossal amount of content available, we converted all the paintings in the collection into digital formats.
  • The feature ‘Vincent for Scale’ demonstrates the size of his masterpieces. And with an in-depth look at his seminal brushstrokes, the team enabled visitors to zoom into the smallest details of the painting.
  • Combining this all in a sturdy and powerful technological platform guides art lovers through the world of Vincent van Gogh, adhering to the highest accessibility standards.
  • In less than six months, we relaunched the museum’s website. Ensuring users all around the world are inspired by how Van Gogh influenced art’s history, all by the comfort of their living room.

 

Transforming the Van Gogh museum into a digital experience accessible to all

Nowhere else in the world will you find as many paintings and drawings by Vincent Van Gogh as at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters are displayed and combined to create a unique museum experience which attracts over two million visitors per year. 

The museum wanted to up its digital game to broaden its overseas audience while also making the website more accessible. So they asked design agency Dept and tech agency Q42 to turn their existing website into a work of art. The result? A new website that adheres to the highest accessibility standards and allows important information to stand out, much like colours on a blank canvas.

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designing a new website worthy of Van Gogh’s art

The technique behind the brushstrokes

When you think of Van Gogh, colourful sceneries come to mind. So this was our starting point. We wanted to bring both the website and Van Gogh’s story to life in an attractive and captivating manner which leaves the user with an impression and entices them to visit the museum.

To ensure the content stands out and that the design does not compete with the work of Van Gogh but instead complimented it, we kept the design clean and minimalistic, giving it a timeless feel. We assigned each page to a different colour which was adapted to the work of art displayed on it, a feat rarely done amongst the white backgrounds of various museum websites. We also implemented subtle interaction animations and transitions to make the website feel light and engage the user.

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Revealing the details of Van Gogh’s paintings digitally

All of the works of art and drawings included on the website are in HD quality which reveals what you cannot see with the naked eye: the great details of Van Gogh’s paintings. The superb quality of the website visuals allows users to discover the information concealed in and underneath the paint simply by zooming in. This interactive storytelling feature is enabled by embedding ultra-resolution tool Micrio into the platform.

We also used the museum’s data to give even more information to website visitors about Van Gogh’s paintings by creating an innovative feature called “Vincent for Scale” which indicates in a playful manner how big a painting is. By placing an art piece next to an outline of Van Gogh, who was 1.64 meters tall, users can quickly see the true size of the artwork. A simple feature that gives users additional information in a digital manner.

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Elevating the storytelling experience

The museum website not only aims to inspire and entice visitors but also educate and delight them. However, the old story format didn’t promote users to read the content in its entirety. So we updated the website’s story format by simplifying the layout while making it more snappy and interactive as the user scrolls down. This makes the articles more appealing to read, especially for users coming from social channels. It also enables editors to create and post content in a much quicker fashion.

Making the website accessible to all

The new layout not only matches the museum’s existing communication design which enables flexibility and consistency across all devices. It is also compliant with and optimised for WCAG 2.1 AA, one of the highest accessibility standards. By vigorously testing our redesign, we ensured the website is optimised for screen readers used by blind and partially sighted people when navigating.

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Bringing art to life in a digital manner

The museum’s new website embarks in a voyage of discovery and inspiration, helping guide art lovers to the world of Vincent van Gogh. In less than six months, we relaunched the museum’s website and made it more colourful and highly-accessible in addition to drastically increasing the site speed and loading times. Ensuring users all around the world are inspired by how Van Gogh influenced art’s history and can connect with the museum in a desirable digital manner.