Launched late last week, the new Walker website is generating plenty of reactions from art bloggers, journalists and our colleagues in the museum world.
Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes offered a quick response last week, calling the site a “game-changer, the website that every art museum will have to consider from this point forward.” He followed that up with a more in-depth piece today that both praised the Walker (“no American art museum is more prepared to produce journalism than is the Walker”) and offered some challenges (“How probative will the Walker site be about its own institution, which dominates the presentation of contemporary art in a huge section of the country?”).
“Art museum websites typically pretend that the museum is an island unto itself,” he writes. “The new Walker website rejects that approach by presenting the Walker as both a physical and a virtual community hub — and it defines its community appropriately broadly, as both the art world and the Walker’s home state of Minnesota. With its audience thus defined, the new website promises to provide not just information about the Walker, but information about art and artists wherever they are, with an special and appropriate focus on its home region. That’s smart. Next up: We’ll see how the website delivers on that promise.”
Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic writes that the site “should be a model for other institutions of all kinds.” He writes: “What I love most about what the Walker is attempting to do is that they seem to have realized that they can do more than stave off a slow spiral into irrelevance. The Internet means that the Walker can become a global art powerhouse from the comfort of the upper Midwest.”
Seb Chan, recently named director of digital and emerging media at the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, interviewed Walker staff about the technology side of the site, noting that “it represents a potential paradigm shift for institutional websites.”
Museum Nerd, the popular anonymous art-tweeter and blogger, followed up a tweet from Friday (below), with a fleshed out analysis at Artlog. Calling the site an “earth-shaking gamechanger,” Museum Nerd writes, “They’re not just positioning themselves as an arbiter of taste (the connoisseurship thing has long been in every art museum’s bailiwick): the Walker is also placing themselves at the center of the conversation that their mission is all about.”
Marianne Combs at MPR: “As a reporter, I find this shift particularly interesting, because it marks a significant step forward in an ongoing trend. Namely arts organizations, faced with a lack of media coverage, are creating their own coverage, and taking the dialogue directly to their audiences.”
Secrets of the City: “[P]retty darn cool. The new look moves the site into more of a content focused direction, but also makes it easier to see what’s happening in the galleries.”
I’ll continue to update this post as more reviews come in.
12.06.11: Nina Simon at Museum 2.0:
“Here’s what I see: a website as a unique core offering–alongside, but not subservient to, the physical institution. Walkerart.org is not about the Walker Art Center. It is the Walker Art Center, in digital form.”
12.08.11: The Independent (UK):
“It’s curation, but not as we (or other galleries) know it yet. It ought to help hugely the Walker’s role on the arts stage…”
“To say I was impressed is an understatement: the design is fresh, exciting to view and the content compelling. The breadth and depth of coverage of art and design quickly shifted my mind toward a completely different place, one of consideration, thought and ideas instead of my typical focus on the tech ‘flipper-flappers’ and ‘eye candy’ of this new website they’d delivered.”
12.09.11: It’s Nice That (UK):
“It’s a great step forward that should be welcomed by all creative types – the writing is excellent and it looks great too with lots of interesting web design tricks producing a thing of real beauty.”
12.20.11: Alissa Walker, GOOD:
“A vibrant and thoughtful portal for the local creative community… Museums everywhere should take note, yes, but publications should be paying attention as well.”