The Rijksmuseum's award-winning website has undergone a complete metamorphosis in 2020. Together with design agency Fabrique and the digital team of the Amsterdam museum, we have brought the collection to life online. How? By focusing on the many stories that lie behind the artworks. We created an innovative storytelling platform linked to very large imagery and a specific customer journey for each target group. In this way we invite the visitor to scroll endlessly through the website. In other words: the new Rijksmuseum site is the Netflix for art. From now on you can enjoy a wonderful evening of 'art binge' at rijksmuseum.nl!
Ever since the beginning of the internet, museums have been looking for ways to display their collections online in an attractive way. How do you create a museum site where the public can get lost? And how do you make the online experience just as good as the visit to the cultural institution itself? That challenge was the starting point for the new Rijksmuseum website. Together with our friends from Fabrique and the experts from the Rijksmuseum, we have devised a way in which visitors can learn about the stories surrounding collection items.
The biggest innovation on rijksmuseum.nl is the new story platform Stories. This is, as it were, an extra storytelling layer that can be used on every page and placed over the page. In this layer, the visitor can wander through the world behind the artworks. The Stories platform therefore forms the basis for all of the museum's stories. With state-of-the-art video streaming thanks to its own player plus other visual story forms, such as 'scroll counting' style articles, tours, 'zoomers', live events and podcasts.
The stories on the new platform are offered in series. Existing series but also new ones, such as Rijksmuseum Unlocked. For young and old, for the curious visitor and for the enthusiast. The stories are expanded every week. So, just like on Netflix, everyone can follow their favorite series. And look forward to a new season.
The new museum website is characterized by extremely large images. This special, 'image first' design is inspired by the trend-setting and award-winning Rijksstudio that we launched in 2012. In Rijksstudio anyone can zoom in on small details of familiar, unexpected and surprising images. The principle of full-screen images has now been extended across the entire Rijksmuseum website. We have ensured that the visitor always sees the correct crop and the correct size image, regardless of the size of the screen.
Zooming in to the smallest detail
Of course we have made the new website fully searchable: from the collection and activities to all practical information. And we have brought all activities of the Rijks together in a simple overview with smart filter options. All based on the CMS we developed ourselves. But not only that. Our ultra-resolution storytelling tool Micrio allows users to zoom in to the smallest details of the paintings and immerse themselves in the artworks. The zoomable works in the series 'In detail' are also enriched with numerous stories and facts. And for visitors who really want to binge art, there are plenty of video tours to enjoy. All made with Micrio.
As early as 2012, when we developed the previous website, the Rijksmuseum's motto was that art belongs to everyone. In Rijksstudio visitors can therefore view and download hundreds of thousands of works in high resolution. Following that principle, special attention was paid in 2020 to accessibility in order to make the website optimally accessible for people who are visually impaired or blind. Texts and interactive items such as clickable buttons and selection menus are easy to find for screen readers and other assistive technologies. Content is also provided with audio description and subtitles. During development, we also tested the site extensively with people who need these assistive technologies in their daily lives. So that they too can explore the many stories that the new website has to offer.
In 2013, an earlier version of the Rijksmuseum site won several awards during the Museums and the Web conference and at the Dutch Interactive Awards. The new website was also awarded with a golden GLAMi Award in 2021, the 'Grammy of the museum world', a golden European Design Award, the prize for the best graphic and digital design in Europe, with a lot of attention for innovation, plus a gold Lovie Award, the 'European Oscar of the Internet'. The jury awarded the new website gold in the 'Websites - Cultural Institutions' category.
"A true project of influence, handles the logistics but emphasizes the stories, image forward and very good typography, well designed aesthetically and functionally."
Jury report GLAMi Awards 2021