The New Museum’s Digital Archive is a living, ever-changing archive for a new museum celebrating its 40th anniversary. Most of the archive’s 15,000 images, books, texts, sounds, and videos are inaccessible to the public, making the digital archive essential viewing.
We sought to recreate some of the drama of exploring the archive itself, and to provide immediate access to amazing content. We took a content-first design approach to account for the archive’s broad range of materials, from exhibition documentation and artist proposals, to audio and video.
Our flexible and user-friendly content management system, Economy, is integrated with the open-source digital asset management system Collective Access, and we worked in collaboration with the Collective Access team and with the New Museum archivist, digital manager, and many other staff. We designed the site’s information architecture and visual hierarchies to differentiate between varying types of content, creating new narratives and bringing lesser-known parts of the archive to historical light in ways that are simultaneously engaging and academically sophisticated.
The museum’s director and staff report that, even for them, the site reveals new relationships within the archive and suggests new facets of the museum’s story.
The digital archive is an engaging space for all audiences and provides a way for the public to engage with the museum’s storied past as well as its dynamic ongoing programming.