Charles Sheeler website evokes the artist for Michener museum
Previously undiscovered work by one of America’s best-known modernists will be featured in a high-profile exhibition starting March 18 at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Bucks County.
“Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography, and Sculptural Form” is a groundbreaking exploration of Sheeler’s fashion photography for Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines between 1926 and 1931, when he was employed as a commercial photographer by the publisher, Condé Nast.
The Michener Art Museum is known for its world-class collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings and exhibitions of artists with ties to the region, in addition to exciting cultural events, myriad art classes and summer camps. The museum’s website does an excellent job of showcasing all those ongoing offerings.
For the special Sheeler exhibition, the museum wanted a separate website. For that, museum leaders selected Hollister Creative. They challenged us to make the entire site design a reflection of Sheeler’s unique sensibility, creating an environment that would inspire interest in the exhibition and drive ticket sales.
Visually, Hollister’s designers followed the spirit of the artist to design the Charles Sheeler website as he might have designed it. In structure and content, the designers worked with the Michener team to settle on four content priorities and use these to guide the sitemap.
- The Exhibition. For website visitors unfamiliar with Sheeler and his work, this section’s Overview page will be the most visited after the home page. Here the text and images had to pique visitor interest and entice them to take a deeper dive into Sheeler’s world and mind.
- The Artist and The Era. These sections were planned for website visitors who know more, or want to. Pages provide scholarly and educational text about Sheeler’s life and times. On one page, an interactive timeline points up important events. On another, visitors explore the many influences on his art.
- Visit. This section is for everyone, providing complete information about visiting the museum: ticket information, travel directions and, significantly, suggestions about other local sites of interest for those who may want to expand their visit into a full day or weekend enjoying historic Doylestown.
- Programs & Events. The museum has planned numerous Sheeler-related events throughout the exhibition run. We planned this calendar page to make it easy for website visitors to scan the offerings and click through for details on those of interest.
“It has been terrific working with Hollister Creative on this project. The team has been remarkably creative, proactive and accommodating. They have offered valuable insight into the planning and design of the site, and have provided excellent project management and oversight. We are pleased with the product as well as with our partnership!”
– Christine Hansel Triantos
Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, James A. Michener Art Museum
Three Quick Tips
If you are facing the challenge of developing an exhibition website, here are some tips to guide your thinking:
- Segment the audience. Any cultural offering will attract an audience with widely varying degrees of knowledge and interest in the subject matter. Make sure you have a design accessible to all and content to engage every visitor, from the casual tourist to the art scholar.
- Understand the context. Every cultural institution has a unique perspective that played a role in its decision to host a special exhibition. Take time in discovery meetings to understand the institution. This will provide context for the exhibition and guide your design in a way that resonates with your client.
- Let yourself be influenced. All artists are influenced by the people, places and things they encounter in their lives. As the exhibition website designer, open yourself to influences from the artist’s era through photographs, typography, colors, patterns and textures popular at that time.