Skip to main content

Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Sir Stanley Spencer Gallery Web Site


Stanley Spencer Gallery

Small Museum: 

Small Museum




The Stanley Spencer Gallery’s web site should be considered for the Small Museum award in the Long Lived category as for its cost of twenty pounds a year - the domain name and hosting fee - this volunteer managed web site consistently attracts five hundred to six hundred thousand hits per month from approximately sixty thousand unique visitors.

It is dedicated to the Gallery of Sir Stanley Spencer – one of England’s greatest artists – and situated in his home village of Cookham. The site is managed by local volunteers and is very much part of the community Spencer loved. Such was Spencer’s enthusiasm for his ‘village born in Heaven’ that, at college, he was nicknamed Cookham; the web site, along with the Gallery, aims to honour and reflect Spencer’s passion . In doing so, the website has two complimentary objectives: first and foremost it is an accurate and up-to-date introduction and guide to the Gallery and Spencer’s Cookham; secondly the web site is an enduring and accessible archive of information on all things related to Spencer, particularly those found locally.

The Gallery’s web site was one of the benefits of its Heritage Lottery funded refurbishment in 2007. The site’s design reflects the branding of the Gallery which was an additional benefit of the funding. The visual effect is simple and uncluttered, with much use of white and the blue Gallery logo. This simplicity is also found in the site’s uncomplicated but effective headline menu structure – The Gallery, The Artist and The Collection. This straightforwardness continues throughout the site which not only gives an in depth view of Spencer’s work, but also gives all the essential details for visitors to the Gallery: location, disabled facilities, opening times, and hints on parking and local accommodation. There is also information on group and educational visits, which the Gallery has been particularly successful in attracting as it includes details of the Gallery’s guided walking tour of Spencer’s Cookham. For those unable to visit, it allows the cyber visitor to obtain a ‘feel’ for what it would be like to actually see the Gallery and experience Spencer’s Cookham.

Sir Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham Walk

The Gallery holds two exhibitions a year – Summer and Winter – the text of the current exhibition’s catalogue is always given in full on the site. The Gallery’s complete collection is accessible on the site and it also includes links to many of Spencer’s works in other galleries. Together with the exhibition’s catalogue text this enables the potential visitor to have a virtual tour of the current exhibition prior to their actual visit. The site introduces the visitor to Spencer’s Cookham as it contains the complete text along with pictures of The Cookham Walk – an hour long guided walk through Cookham highlighting the locations seen in Spencer’s works.

Sir Stanley Spencer Gallery Pictures

As a small independent self-funded gallery, every revenue opportunity is pursued. The on-line shop offers a selection of stock from the Gallery’s shop, selling Stanley Spencer postcards, prints and videos , these revenues bolster the income of the Gallery .

There is a regularly updated diary of news and events associated not just with the Gallery but also forthcoming Spencer -related exhibitions and lectures elsewhere, reflecting the site’s twin audiences - the Gallery’s visitors and the wider community interested in Spencer. The site has four hundred to five hundred thousand hits per month, of which around sixty thousand are unique visitors; this compares with around fifty thousand who visit the Gallery annually, so the site is not just a resource for visitors to the Gallery but to a considerably wider Spencer interested community.

That wider community is not just from the UK but international , with considerable numbers from the USA and elsewhere, and now that Stanley Spencer work forms part of the UK’s National Curriculum a significant number of UK students . The site receives emails daily containing a myriad of questions about Spencer and the Gallery. Emails are answered individually by the relevant volunteer team member.

Sir Stanley Spencer Gallery Archive

The archival function of the web site complements the site’s role as an introduction and guide to the Gallery. The Gallery’s own Spencer prints and paintings collection is available on line as well as links to many of his works in other galleries around the world. Plans are in hand to put on line the Gallery’s extensive document archive which contains: copies of all the catalogues of exhibitions held since it was opened in 1962; photographs and transcripts of letters written by Spencer; written memories by those who knew the man himself ; copies of his own letters and jottings; press cuttings and articles written during and since the artist's lifetime; copies of student theses and essays on many aspects of his art.

Work is already under way to bring the Gallery to social media sites to further increase its accessibility and reach - as well as the introduction of other media such as – podcasts for voice, and YouTube for videos.

This work is all done by volunteers who share a common passion, like Sir Stanley Spencer, for his work and for Cookham – using the Gallery’s web site to spread Spencer’s vision and love of Cookham to all the Nations of the World as Spencer did in is so many of his paintings.

For these reasons I commend this work for the Small Museum Long Lived Category Award.