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MIT's List Visual Arts Center is the contemporary art museum and visual art lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. After completing a comprehensive rebrand of the List, we set out to bring that brand to life online. TOKY — the team behind the site's design and development — is a full-service branding and design consultancy with offices in St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston.
We selected Drupal for several reasons, the first being that the List's original site was created in Drupal, and their staff was familiar with the structure. Drupal offered flexibility that allowed us to customize different modules, making it easier for them to make updates. We were also attracted to the flexibility of Drupal's entity system, which allowed us to present content in different ways across the site, whether lists, text, audio, or images.
The goal of this project was to incorporate the new branding into a site that encourages visitors to explore the List's rotating selection of programming and exhibitions. With events and offerings constantly changing, another primary goal was to create a site that could be quickly and easily updated by staff members. We were also tasked with developing a device-agnostic Public Art Map to showcase pieces found around campus. While the original site already had a Public Art Map, it was built in Flash, which made it inaccessible via phone or tablet.
In terms of development, this project took between two and a half to three months to complete. We used agile project management, and had milestones every two weeks to review and test specific sections of the site.
This site has several noteworthy features. The Public Art Map helps visitors explore the dozens of pieces of art scattered throughout MIT's campus. The map not only pulls in basic information like medium, size, and credit, but also integrates with the Acoustiguide Audio Tour of the collection, so that visitors can tune into commentary from artists, architects, scholars, and curators. The redesigned Exhibition and Events pages offer a massive, interactive record of everything the List has ever done, making it a great resource for scholars, students, and casual art lovers.
For the Public Art Map, once our designers stylized and simplified each of four zoom levels, we sliced the background into tiles using MapTiler Pro by Klokan Technologies. We then used a custom module to pull all Individual Works with geographic coordinates (provided by the geolocation module), and output the resulting JSON data to populate the map. Using Leaflet.js and the Leaflet.markercluster plugin, we were able to display all of MIT's Public Art visually on the map and also in a slide-out list.
To keep visitors up-to-date with social conversation concerning the List, the footer of the site and the Connect page automatically pull the latest Twitter and Instragram content marked with the hashtag #mitlist. The public nature of this created a problem in the unfortunate event that someone would post something inappropriate or hateful with the linked hashtag. To solve this problem, we created a custom module that — after caching the recent Tweets and Instagrams — allows site administrators to disable the display of any individual Tweet or Instagram and immediately remove it from across the site.
In terms of project outcome, the site can now be managed more easily, making it more convenient to update and add upcoming events and exhibitions. The new site also integrates with Constant Contact, so that email signups are automatically added to their email database. This allows the staff to keep their marketing cycle moving without the hassle of manually uploading contacts.
Eric Thoelke, Executive Creative Director
Jay David, Interactive Creative Director
Melissa Allen, Senior Web Producer
Daniel Korte, Developer
Robert Paige, Designer