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The Rocks Discovery Museum engages global audiences with unique stories

NSW Department of Planning

An interpretive website designed to help the museum team welcome visitors, promote the permanent exhibition and events, activate the precinct and museum with stories, create online-only exhibitions and give access to heritage resources.

  • In this project
  • Discovery

  • Visual design

  • Design + UX

  • Craft CMS

  • Web development

  • Awards and recognition
  • 2022 National Trust Heritage Award

  • 2022 MAPDA Award

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The Rocks Discovery Museum (RDM) was one of the first museums to use extensive multimedia to interpret the multi-layered history of The Rocks. Art of Multimedia (AOM) designed and developed the multimedia exhibits in 2005 and refreshed the entire digital experience in 2021.

This time, NSW DPIE funding allowed for the creation of a dedicated website to facilitate better visibility online for the museum, improving engagement with visitors and providing a platform for digital storytelling to audiences far and wide.

Although very familiar with the content, we wanted to develop an optimal online experience for the museum’s visitors and began with a Discovery & UX Design process. This enabled us to involve the RDM team early in thoughtfully designing their visitor experience.

We started by identifying who their core audiences were and how the website could best meet their varying needs. How it would differ from and complement the in-museum experience and what opportunities it would offer their team for creating ongoing and vibrant engagement with The Rocks Precinct and heritage stories.

This design process also identified opportunities for new ways of connecting with audiences, which became expected post pandemic, such as online-only exhibitions, podcasts and personalised tour guide videos.

Once solid foundations were laid in an approved Functional Specification, AOM began working on the visual design and wireframes. This was followed by a series high-fidelity visual prototypes to help everyone see how the website will look and function on both desktop and mobile devices.

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The website initiation and development has been excellent, and future-build provisions will make it easier to develop further. Access to analytical data will enable The Rocks Discovery Museum to assess our successes, and guide our future.

Wayne Johnson
Senior Archaeologist (Curator), The Rocks Discovery Museum

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Phase one of the website includes a selection of interpretive stories, which can be explored by theme, matching the museum’s permanent exhibition format. Stories include captioned images, quotes and credits as well as other audio and video media. Over time, more stories will be added, making the website an increasingly rich source of heritage information about The Rocks.

Educators looking to bring their students can explore the education programs, download self-guided tour packs, meet the guides or contact the staff to book a program.

The Rocks Discovery Museum operates with a small team and needed an easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS). AOM developed the RDM website using Craft CMS, a highly flexible and powerful CMS, which gives designers and developers modern tools to build exactly what is needed while providing content authors the best back-end experience for content publishing.

Soft launched mid-December, in the first 50 days of operation, the website has served over 3900 pages of content to 1300 visitors, with 70% of those in Australia and 30% beyond. 52% of visitors used a smartphone or tablet, reiterating the value of mobile-optimised design.

Explore The Rocks Discovery Museum website to discover the rich history of The Rocks from the comfort of your device.

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