Phoebe A. Hearst Museum

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology 4 Hs

Services: Storytelling + Brand, Education, Insights + Discovery, Nonprofit

How do you engage people with anthropology? Connect the data.

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology had built a considerable reputation growing its collection to nearly 4 million artifacts and objects, but its aging brand and technical infrastructure were both overdue for a refresh. And with new leadership and a reinvigorated vision for the organization, this refresh needed to be more than just a facelift–it needed to be a complete metamorphosis.



Like good anthropologists, we inquired with both breadth and depth, immersing ourselves in their onsite exhibits, conducting stakeholder interviews and focus group discussions, and completing a competitive analysis. Through our research, we identified two distinct user segments: younger college students and older anthropology “enthusiasts.” What would allow the new brand to bridge the gap between these audiences? Framing anthropology as a way to participate in the world.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology understand phase venn diagram



After exploring a few breathtaking brand concepts, the winning direction focused on cultures connecting and provided an effective visual metaphor through the Hearst “H.” To live this brand promise out, we needed the website messaging and architecture to encourage users to connect with the Hearst Museum in ways that cultivate further action. At the intersection of beautiful and practical, the proposed information architecture would make finding and engaging easier than ever.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Logo Exploration



Accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0 AA) were at the forefront of every step of our process, from color contrast to keyboard control. Through this lens, we designed and developed several dynamic templates to maximize flexibility. We integrated both events and their existing payment processor with the new visual system to provide enhanced reservation and donor experiences.  In addition, new templates were designed and integrated with their massive database of objects and artifacts allowing users to immerse and engage with the impressive collection online. Finally, the carefully crafted site taxonomy made pulling in the appropriate content for any given page seamless for the Hearst team.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Website Screenshot of African Mask



Not only is the new experience aesthetically beautiful and easy to peruse, it provides accessible content and carefully crafted messaging from dynamically connected integrations. It’s easy for users to find events, articles, videos, and objects from the collection along with the associated mapping data, imagery, and other content that’s pulled from the Hearst’s database.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology Final Product Screenshots