Title:Art & Artists
Authors:James Davis, John Stack
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

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:


           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.