Art galleries are in the business of aesthetics, yet it’s amazing how generic and uninventive many of their websites can be. Minimal graphics, fonts, and color schemes are designed to keep the viewer’s focus on the art itself, often at the expense of creativity and attractiveness. As in any business, it’s important for galleries to make a website that stands out and is memorable.
The websites on this list have achieved that goal by making subtle, yet integral design choices that, in fact, often increase both functionality and the viewing experience.
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The websites below are useful sources of inspiration, and they prove that there are multiple variations on similar themes which can be used when you make a website. They show the array of choices that designers have and the ways in which sophisticated, intricate, or visually interesting graphics can actually enhance the look of the art, not counteract it. By creating a balance between the work being sold and the design format, art galleries have the potential to optimize their website as a marketing tool and therefore increase their business.
While many gallery websites take the minimalist approach, the Pace Gallery is not afraid to include elements of color, pattern, and interactive functions in a bulletin-like format. Their web page background images consist of a pale purple number “50,” in celebration of their 50th anniversary in 2010. Without tabs or links to separate sections, instead the gallery’s information is laid out in a series of boxes, with sections on artists, exhibitions, press releases, media, locations, books, news, and about the gallery. Click on an artist and the artists’ box transforms. Select the option to “expand” and the entire web page layout changes, so that sections where additional information appears are highlighted (perhaps old press releases, books, and the current exhibition), while irrelevant sections (maybe media or events) are darkened. It’s a unique system devised so that those looking for information on a specific person or exhibition can avoid skipping from section to section and, instead, find all the information they need laid out in one place.
Another website formatted in a bulletin style.
And another version of the same concept.
Luhring Augustine’s website may appear to have adopted the typically simplistic gallery approach, but here they show how to make a website where beauty is found in the details. They get their edge from a plethora of images, found in literally every section of the website, which create visual interest and easy navigation. Scroll your mouse over an artist’s name and a large sized image, rather than just a thumbnail, appears on the right hand side of the screen. Look up current exhibitions and find a long page dedicated to images from past and future exhibitions as well. Not a single news item is published without some sort of photo attached, so that the palette of grey in the web page background design becomes simply a canvas upon which a library of images is projected.
Another deceptively simple website heavy on the images.
And a second example of rotating homepage images – this time of artists and collections.
This website allows scrolling back and forth between two main images that correspond with the gallery’s two locations.
Here, the same concept with three gallery locations.
One of the most fanciful gallery websites around belongs to the Brazilian gallery A Gentil Carioca. While it may not be the most efficient website around, the colorful moving graphics and cartoon-like images speak to the art being sold, which is generally funky and irreverent itself. The gallery’s theme of a pool (instead of stairs leading to their second level, there is a pool ladder) is continued throughout the website, which shows an animated outlined figure walking through a doorway and jumping into the water. The musical accompaniment may be a bit overkill, but the point of this website is to show that art gallery websites don’t always have to be seriously somber and that, from a marketing standpoint, it’s an important goal to convey your gallery’s specific and personalized tone through the business website.
With a web page background consisting of full-blown, automatically rotating gallery images, Gmurzynska’s website immediately opens with an impact that demands attention. A moving timeline at the bottom of the screen permits visitors to browse through the gallery’s previous exhibition highlights, accomplishments, and events, while the main menu only appears when you roll the mouse over the gallery’s name. Click to view the artist list and the homepage’s layers and shifting images give way to complete functionality, with images laid out as thumbnails and information appropriately categorized. In this way, Gallery Gmurzynska offers an excellent example of how to make a website that combines the creative with the practical.
Another gallery website featuring a high impact, full-screen image.
And another full-screen image.
The Von Bartha website screams sophistication. With pared down images and a strong font, they show how simplicity doesn’t have to be boring, but instead can be quite evocative. With a palette of black, white, and sky blue, the homepage opens with three clean squares showing shots of each of the gallery’s locations and titled with the name of their current exhibitions. A strong, bold Von Bartha logo dominates the upper-right-hand corner of each subsequently linked page, while the web page background color alternates between white and black depending on the section. One visually notable choice occurs in the artists’ section, where each name is highlighted in a chunk of the same eye-catching blue.
Another simple and elegant site that garners attention for its unordinary font and unique three dimensional graphic effect.
Sophistication with a twist. Instead of a homepage image, this gallery turns its list of artist names into a surprisingly refreshing graphic.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s website inserts the viewer into their actual gallery space. Different views of the gallery provide the consistent backdrop to the web page design, yet the site remains dynamic with drop-down menus, shading, and website Flash templates that enable dynamic movement as images shift and pages turn. Perhaps one of the most interesting features here can be found in the artists’ section; browsing through images becomes a much more dynamic task, as each work appears projected against the gallery walls, rather than a solid background or color. The result is as though you are viewing the work actually hung up in the gallery space, a sensation which is almost interactive in its effect. This gallery knows how to make a website that is both straightforward and functional, but yet subtly involves the viewer.
Another website that opens with beautiful rotating images of the gallery space.
And another that uses a washed-out photo of their skylight ceiling.
Galeria Joan Prats makes the memorable artistic choice of photographing their floor.
This website allows you to scroll through a range of gallery images at the top of the page.
Victoria Miro picks the outside of the gallery to display, rather than the inside. This shot alternates with an image from the current exhibition.
While compiling this list, it’s always a possibility that we missed some other great gallery websites. Feel free to share it with us.