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Case study - National Gallery of Canada

Unifying an iconic Canadian cultural institution.
Artwork by Tau Lewis, Symphony (detail), 2020–21, using various recycled and hand-dyed fabrics, recycled leather, cotton batting, beads, acrylic paint, PVA glue, metal hoop skirt, pipe, seashells and wire.

Project Overview

Breathtaking in scope, the National Gallery of Canada is Canada's national art museum. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 93,000 works from European, American, Asian, Canadian, and indigenous Canadian artists. By exhibition space, the museum is one of the largest art museums in North America.


National Gallery of Canada


Arts & Culture


CMS Website


Drupal CMS, Piction DAM, Mimsy XG


Usability Matters

Project Link

Services Provided

UX research, technical architecture, digital strategy, analytics, UX/UI design, usability testing, Drupal CMS development, API integrations, training & documentation, support & maintenance.

Art by Rashid Johnson, Capsule (detail), 2020–21, created using powder-coated steel, plants, ceramics, rugs, fibreglass, shea butter, books, video, monitors and grow lights
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

The Challenge

The Gallery's digital presence was dispersed through various server websites and web applications. The main website was using legacy OpenText CMS. Therefore needed to deliver a consolidating architecture of all Gallery web properties under a single unifying design and content management system.

Overall goals for this project were:

Improve digital marketing capacity and capabilities

Enhance physical visits to the Gallery by leveraging digital technologies

Provide greater access to the Gallery’s collection

Increase awareness and appreciation for art amongst Canadians

A screenshot of the website from November 2021
Mobile device screenshot from the website showing their hours of operation.Mobile device screenshot from the website showing an artist biography.Mobile device screenshot from website of an exhibition listing.

The Solution

A comprehensive content strategy effort was critical to the success of the consolidation of the many Gallery web properties into one unified online experience for site visitors. Efforts included content inventory, the development of a content migration plan and a unifying information architecture for

UX/UI and Art Direction was greatly informed through numerous on-site workshops held at the Gallery in Ottawa and thorough user testing. The resulting design system was intended to be sparse and architectural to allow the artifacts to take the centre stage. The website navigation is optimized to allow site visitors from across Canada to learn, explore and get inspired. The powerful search tool is there for both discovery of new materials and to be used by researchers who know exactly what they're looking for.

Drupal CMS has extensive data-modeling capabilities which were extended through integration with both a Digital Assess Management System (DAM) and the Gallery's internal copyright management system.

Best practices for the Gallery included performance load testing and optimization, accessibility compliancy, task based and technical documentation, and a thorough UAT and launch plan.

Since the launch of the website, Therefore has been engaged in numerous additional sub-projects and continues to support the Gallery through support, maintenance and continuous evolution of its digital properties.

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