A look behind Agnes’s vibrant new website

5 February 2020

On 20 January, Agnes launched a brand new website, which was beautifully designed and developed by Studio: Blackwell (Toronto, ON). Part of a multi-year digital development initiative, this new and improved online presence offers an evolved design and improved functionality across the site and opens up opportunities to expand in the months and years to come.

Since our last website update six years ago, much has changed at Agnes and in how we serve our communities. It was time to re-envision our web presence to be able to reflect visitors’ needs and the growing range of activities and collections. We wanted to elevate our online presence to be as vibrant and engaging as our tangible presence in the galleries: a place that advances creativity, research, participation and collaboration in national and global visual arts cultures.

Below, Danuta Sierhuis, Digital Development Coordinator answers a few questions about the impetus for the website project and provides an  overview of the great new features that you can enjoy.

We wanted to improve your access to Agnes wherever you may be.

Since 2014, the web has been greatly adapted and optimized for mobile devices, and it was time that Agnes’s website follow suit. Now, you can easily experience the richness of our programs and collections either at home or on-the-go with your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

We wanted to strengthen and expand the Agnes brand online.

As an art museum, Agnes has access to incredible imagery and we wanted to highlight what we do here through a better balance of images, multimedia and text throughout the website. In addition to new image-rich page layouts, we have also introduced a new consolidated logo and a beautiful new e-newsletter template for This Week at Agnes (if you’re not already signed up to this weekly newsletter, sign up now so you don’t miss out!).

We wanted to make it easier to find the content you’re looking for on our website.

We tested and created a new navigation structure that made finding the most important content easier and more intuitive. These include areas like visit, current exhibitions and events, and upcoming opportunities. Our new homepage also gives you a snapshot of the exciting ways to engage with Agnes.

We’ve also created dynamic linking of content across the website in “Discover More” modules, like on our Exhibition pages, allowing you to see related events, tours, publications and more at a glance.


What were some of the goals with developing the new website?

Before and After website refresh, homepage

Before (bottom) and After (top) of the Agnes homepage

New Collections pages and searchability

With art at the core of our mandate, we needed a new way to better highlight the 17,000+ art objects at Agnes, so we gave a fresh face to the way you access the Collections pages. In addition to a new layout for collection pages in Canadian, Contemporary, European and African art, we have also created dedicated pages for Indigenous art and the Collection of Canadian Dress and the Heritage Quilt Collection, allowing you to discover the rich variety of objects in these areas.

The “Search the Collection” page has also been revamped for contemporary needs, and beautifully displays search results in either a grid or a list view, allowing you to see the breadth of the collection (and maybe discover new works you have never seen before). Also, check out the new search filter “On View” for all permanent collection artworks that are currently on display in the galleries!

Object record pages now highlight the artworks with extended interpretation, where available, so that you can look at the work and understand its importance at a glance.

Events and Programs pages

Likewise, Talks, Tours, Events and Classes, Workshops, Camps give you an improved sense of the programs and activities at Agnes. You’ll appreciate the new filters to find specific events and classes geared towards adults, youth or children.

Emphasis on Academic Outreach activities

Agnes is an active resource for students and faculty across campus, and we have created an elegant and informative page for our Academic Outreach activities that highlights the ways in which classes can engage with our exhibitions and collections. Key features include testimonials from past faculty about their class’s experience and examples of past projects.

What are some of the new, exciting features?

A screenshot of an object record page from the new website.

A screenshot of an object record page from the new website.

Creation of Digital Agnes

Digital Agnes is a new platform for curatorial collaboration and creative research initiatives. Here, we have gathered together for the first time all of our digital projects—from digital publications, interactives, virtual tours and video—from the last decade. It will act as a resource for knowledge sharing and interpretation of visual and media art and will aim to participate in and advance digital visual cultures.

Keep an eye out for new projects and features in Digital Agnes later in 2020!

What is Digital Agnes?

Screenshot from Digital Agnes header

Screenshot from Digital Agnes

Image Credits

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