One of my favorite things about having overnight houseguests, whether friends or family, is pointing out a few amenities intended to make them feel welcome.
We direct guests to extra towels in the linen closet, another nightlight to illuminate a hallway, or a basket stocked with toiletries and scented soap. We make sure to extend fridge privileges, hoping they’ll polish off any leftover desserts.
I see parallels between hosting guests and website redesign. When, prepping for company – whether a houseguest or Woodson Art Museum website visitor – we try to visualize ourselves in their roles, making them feel welcome, anticipating needs, ensuring it’s safe and easy to navigate, and sprinkling bits of delight along the way.
In the months since a major redesign of the Woodson Art Museum website, we’ve made tweaks, as needed, and pointed out a few upgrades incrementally, in separate blog posts and social media highlights. Now, I’m taking the opportunity to offer a “whole-house” website renovation tour, highlighting amenities of which we’re particularly proud.
On the homepage, our goal is to offer essentials – providing an overview of easy ways to tour the rest of the “house,” quickly or at your leisure, as time and interests allow. Grab info to go while on the fly. Or settle in, click, scroll, and explore when you can delve into the depths of engaging content at your fingertips.
Start by exploring the “foyer” or homepage, checking out news, press releases, current and upcoming exhibitions, the calendar for upcoming events, and this week’s blog post. I’m a comment collector, so scroll down to see a few snippets of what our visitors say. If you’d like to increase the text size, look in the upper-right homepage corner for an option to do so there.
Proceeding into the rest of the “house,” here are a few highlights; bookmark these pages and return when ready.
Within the Visit tab’s drop-down menu, check out the About webpage for details about the Museum winning a 2017 National Medal for Museum Service and be sure to click a link to one of the biggest perks from that award: fifteen StoryCorps recorded conversations between pairs of local Museum enthusiasts – preserved here on our website and at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
Settle in, listen as you would a podcast – perhaps while chopping vegetables or raking leaves – and discover how experiences at the Museum have forged and deepened connections between family members and friends. One woman, Linda Ramthun, so valued the autumn dates with her father-in-law and their in-depth, fun-filled conversations here that after his health intervened, she created as Christmas gifts her own personalized Birds in Art catalogues customized with written comments so they could continue their virtual Museum visits together. Mother, Jen Zach, and her daughter, Rachel, recall their three-generation Toddler Tuesday outings that paved the way for Rachel’s teenage visits with her grandmother. In these conversations and more, their love for each other – enriched by shared Woodson Art Museum experiences – is palpable and inspiring.
The website offers a portal to videos galore, containing artists’ and curators’ insights, masterfully edited by Museum educator Catie Anderson. On the Audio Tours page, see a selection focused on current exhibition and collection artwork. Also on the Audio Tours webpage – and on every webpage on the lower right – is a link to the Museum’s YouTube channel. There, scroll down to peruse more than sixty videos about artists, artwork, and current and previous exhibitions. On the Birds in Art webpage, watch interviews of first- and second-year artists and Master Artists. Watch for more Master Artist interviews to come, conducted during the 2019 Birds in Art opening weekend in September. Also available on the Outdoor Sculpture webpage are videos featuring artist Bonnie Gale discussing Willow Dreams, a site-specific sculpture in the garden, and sculptors Paul Rhymer, Kent Ullberg, and Walter Matia.
For virtual views of Museum artwork, search the collection online. In her blog post last week, curator of collections Jane Weinke wrote about attaining this goal she set fifteen years ago. Now more than 700 artworks from the Museum’s collection are available to search and view on the website; watch for the addition of more images soon.
The Learn & Do webpage offers plenty, as the name implies: Activity Guides for current and past exhibitions and links to details about artist residencies, Art Park, group visits, and programs for all ages, from youth and families to teens and adults. The Get Involved webpage has specifics about membership, giving opportunities, volunteering, and Woodson Art Museum-organized travel opportunities.
In all we do, our aim is to be hospitable, rolling out the welcome mat each time you walk through the Museum doors or visit the website. Reviews on TripAdvisor, comments left on our digital guestbook in the main entrance and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter give us encouragement and ideas about how to make improvements. Our efforts, with assistance from website partners Leslie Brown of Ontogeny Advertising & Design and Doug Cottrell of CWDG, are ongoing.
How’s our hospitality? We know that word of mouth is powerful, whether in person or online. Help us by extending a warm welcome to others who’ve not yet visited, offering specific recommendations, and encouraging them to sample all that’s offered – always admission free. That’s our goal – to broaden the reach of the invitation, refine experiences here, and encourage more and more people to explore the wonders that await. Who can you invite today?