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Museums and the Web

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

Art & Artists

Published Paper


This paper describes how multiple strands of exploratory thinking across a large organisation were brought together in the complete overhaul of Tate’s collection online.

Scholarly research, technical innovation, curatorial enquiry, educational strategy, enterprise analytics, user-centred design and crowd-sourcing were just some of the methods employed by numerous teams across Tate on various projects. Over the course of two years these sometimes unconnected activities were identified, shaped and successfully channelled into a unified online representation of art and artists.

The quirky trajectory of multiple projects will be charted as resources are diverted, goals mature and priorities change. As well as the most successful endeavours, we will encounter failed initiatives, inconsistent progress, abandoned contexts and reconfigured methodologies, all set against an increasingly pressurised budgetary landscape and an unpredictable change of government.

The finished site will act as a guide for these narratives, demonstrating the outcomes of completed efforts and acting as a live metric for the projects’ goals and priorities. Future components will be discussed in the relevant contexts, and longer term plans revealed.

Case studies to be referred to include:

  • ArtMap
  • Taxonomic structures
  • Online Scholarly Cataloguing Initiative
  • User commenting
  • Personal collections
  • Archive integration
  • Tate Channel
  • Article syndication
  • Displays information
  • Curatorial style guide
  • Image sizes
  • User testing
  • Audience research
  • Social media integration

Through discussion of these projects we will discover the scale and complexity of the finished product, the challenges of integrating many years worth of content created for other contexts, and the ongoing implications for a public institution that integrated digital workflows over a decade ago.

A open assessment will be given of the budgetary and personnel requirements, along with the institutional impact of Tate’s Online Strategy 2010-12.

The site will launch in February 2011.


Paper - in formal session


jmkd's picture
I am currently Program Manager for the Google Art Project, overseeing global operations for Street View inside museums, gigapixel photography, and have significant involvement in partner relations and front end development of the site. I previously worked in gallery installation and web-based art...
John Stack's picture
John Stack is Head of Tate Online. He leads on Tate's web strategy and oversees the Tate Online department's production, design, editorial and technical teams.