With galleries around the world reducing in-person gallery visits due to the pandemic of 2020, many have turned to digital alternatives to showcase their artists, share programming, and engage collectors online. The most popular avenue for doing so right now? Online viewing rooms.
What are online viewing rooms, and what value do they provide to galleries? In this guide from ARTSY, we’ll dive into how to curate an art-first digital viewing room for collectors that’s authentic to your gallery and artists.
What is an Online Viewing Room?
Unique from online exhibitions and other forms of digital content because of their time- bound nature and narrative flexibility, online viewing rooms interweave visual, written, and occasionally audio/video content to provide a multimodal digital experience.
Online viewing rooms range from a simple landing page with images of artworks and a brief written statement to sophisticated online destinations integrating AR, video, and editorial content.
The theme or narrative can be specific or general—you can focus on one artist’s works during a given period, or explore a thematic narrative like “Escape to the Country” or “Pop Art Showcase.”
So how should you create, design, and market your viewing room?
How To Build An Effective Online Viewing Room–in 4 Steps
STEP 1: CRAFT YOUR STORY
The best viewing rooms communicate a compelling story that speaks to the artists you’re showcasing and how they relate to your gallery’s unique point of view.
Ideally, the story you tell should provide relevant context for the viewer and explore the unique aspects of an artist’s practice or the works you’ve selected, as well as their current or historical relevance.
TOP TIPS FOR CRAFTING YOUR ONLINE VIEWING ROOM STORY:
— Provide relevant context for the viewer
— Communicate a compelling story that speaks to the unique artists or works you’re showcasing–including their current or historical relevance
— Detail how they relate to your gallery’s point of view
STEP 2: KEEP IT CONCISE
When planning the content of your viewing room, less is often more. Focus on creating a clear narrative and draw the reader in with compelling visuals and a succinct written start. Studies show that on average, viewers only read 20–28% of the content on a page with 600 words or more. at percentage increases exponentially when there’s fewer words on the page. is is a valuable metric to keep in mind as you create written content for your viewing room.
For example, BEERS London’s Artsy Viewing Room “Andrew Salgado: Strange Weather” (see a screenshot below) immediately draws the viewer in with a bright, gurative cover artwork and a feature quote by the artist describing colorfully how his work has changed due to the pandemic: “Given the uncertainty and confusion this year, I just allowed myself to oat into something fantastical—a land of make-believe.” By including the artist’s artwork and a quote at the onset of the viewing room, BEERS London instantly connects the viewer to the artist— giving her a taste of what to expect throughout.
TEP 3: SPREAD THE WORD
Once you’ve planned the content for your viewing room, think about your strategy for distribution and monetization. Focus on key promotional periods to entice the audience, such as the viewing room’s preview, opening, and closing. Remember, unlike other online exhibition tools, online viewing rooms offer timed exhibitions, creating urgency for collectors to engage with the content.
Share the announcement of your viewing room across all of your gallery communication channels such as email, social media, and website. Make sure to link out to the online viewing room within those channels to direct your audience to the right place.
To increase the likelihood of sales from your online viewing room, partner with a marketplace or product that has purchase functionalities built in to make it as easy as possible for a collector to purchase works while browsing, introducing buttons for inquiries, as well as “Buy Now,” and “Make Offer” functionalities, so it’s easy for a collector to immediately buy a work they love.
As an example, each Artsy viewing room has a unique link that can be shared with collectors. Copy this link by pressing the “Share” button that appears next to it in the Viewing Room Manager.
STEP 4: ANALYZE PERFORMANCE, THEN ITERATE
Every piece of content you create is an opportunity to learn more about your collectors and audience. Online viewing rooms are no exception.
Galleries that create Artsy Viewing Rooms can see how many page views they get, from where, which artworks users view, and which artworks collectors are clicking on the most. This is data—along with the information you learn from your social promotions—should inform your ongoing marketing strategy.
For example, if you see that one artwork is getting a lot of views or inquiries, consider using it to promote your viewing room in marketing assets.
By leveraging online viewing rooms, galleries can tell enticing stories to engage collectors in new and exciting ways. Whether you choose to build your own viewing room or rely on a trusted marketplace like Artsy, focusing on effective storytelling, user-friendly design, and integrated purchase functionalities will allow you to meet new collectors, engage your existing audience in a fresh way, and continue to support artists—even if your gallery doors are closed.
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