The homepage provides many ways to enter and interact with the site, from browsing and collecting artworks from the collection, to taking fun quizzes, to browsing other kids’ uploaded artwork. To help kids make connections between the ways that Whitney artists make art and how kids today create their own art, works by Whitney artists are paired with artwork by kids on the landing page. Pages about featured Whitney artists often emphasize the processes and life experiences of each artist.

After designing the Whitney Museum’s website in 2010, in 2011 we introduced a major new area for kids: Whitney For Kids. The new site turns the main Whitney website’s design grammar on its head, keeping some of the same structure and attitude but giving it a whole new look. Kids can explore all the same artists and artworks as adults can, but in their own design language, and dozens of artist and artwork pages have all new, richly engaging kid-specific content.




Visitor, November 3, 2011
Visitor, October 3, 2011
Diamond, age 11, New York, November 7, 2011


Kids can also do a lot more than adults. They can make their own pages on the Whitney’s website, using a kid-friendly version of the same content management system used by Whitney staff. They can take quizzes and polls, tag artworks, collect artupload their own art, and browse the art of both Whitney artists and other kids. And they can change the background pattern of the whole website, for all to see, using a fun and educational tool.

The design has been described as “hallucinatory” and kids really seem to connect with it, using the site in many different ways. Some slowly explore all the art; others just want to make their own pages and add tags. Those approaches map to two major approaches of the site: Emphasize parallels and connections between kids and artists; and create a discursive space, like a crowd of kids in a museum who can all hear and see each other talking about and reacting to what’s around them.

Many museum kids sites feature a limited number of artists or (even worse) a limited number of activities or games, creating a small “walled garden.” Our approach sought to open the entirety of the Whitney to kids, in ways that are even more ambitious than what’s available to adults. To accomplish this, we created modular features that can be re-used across many artists and artworks, rather than specific games. This allowed museum educators to create their own rich pages for each artist. Pedagogically, on our side we focused on features that were about museum-going, curation, and art-making itself – and even features that are about a museum website, such as making your own pages. In this way we created an entire virtual museum just for kids, as many-faceted as the Whitney itself. This approach also allowed us to leverage all the work that we and the Whitney have invested in the main site, in a new way; and even to try out some features that may eventually make it back to the adult site. The site is a work in progress, as more content will be added over time by museum curators, educators, and kids themselves.

In May 2012, Artinfo.com declared the Whitney.org and the Whitney For Kids site the #2 and #3 Top Museum Websites on the internet, respectively. The Kids site also recently won the 2012 MUSE Silver Award in Education and Outreach



 

Visitor, October 19, 2011

Meg_Forsyth, November 8, 2011


 



 

GoodGuy, age 8, Missouri, November 8, 2011

Visitor, November 7, 2011


Visitor, November 9, 2011

Visitor, November 9, 2011

Visitor, November 21, 2011