Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Encouraging engagement with art and ideas
The parent organization to two unique museums in San Francisco, the de Young and the Legion of Honor, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) is one of the largest and most visited art institutions in the United States.
FAMSF approached AREA 17 to craft a website that amplifies a distinctive curatorial perspective informed by critical thinking, activism, and the Bay Area.
Applying a bespoke CMS from Twill as the central scaffolding, the site is a robust and accessible platform where FAMSF can promote programming and educational initiatives while sharing the breadth of its collection in ways that resonate with 21st-century audiences around the world.
In crafting a new website, we aimed to unite two iconic San Francisco museums, the de Young and Legion of Honor, under the banner of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), a singularly focused and mission-led organization. While the two museums are unique in terms of their architecture and collections, our goal was to help FAMSF manifest a unified vision with shared curatorial ambitions and an impressive combined collection.
In capturing the regional identity of FAMSF, the team looked to evoke San Francisco’s unique and dynamic character. The city’s iconic fog informs the tonal, monochromatic color palette across the site. Silicon Valley, a staple of the region, was another point of reference; the editorial font we selected for the brand is a contemporary take on the typefaces used in early Macintosh systems.
Additionally, the site needed to convey the Bay Area’s proud activist history, which informs the museums’ new thematic approach to digital curation. The site’s bespoke filtering system empowers FAMSF’s team to associate art in new ways, allowing users to investigate artists and art movements in the context of political and cultural moments. Users can experience works of art by combining filters like “Environment” and “Power,” allowing them to understand the relationship between disparate works in fresh, meaningful ways. In equipping users with information about the forces that intersect to create art and art movements, we’ve helped FAMSF embody a more expansive view of art, beyond the confines of a single artist and transcending the boundaries of temporal physical exhibits.
The FAMSF site is one website housing the programming and educational offerings of two museums in the same city. In the past, this organizational model created confusion for users who wanted to learn more about an exhibit or educational event at one of the two museums.
The new site addresses this challenge by prominently differentiating both museums while also centralizing information in one space. Other design decisions like improved navigation, pathing, and content strategy also contribute to a more intuitive and frictionless user experience.