Clare Museum website


Designed by John Wigzell at Clockwork Satellite

Curator: John Rattigan

Content editor: Dervilia Roche

Categories: Website

Industry: Cultural

Tags: Digital / Interactive


Clare Museum is a local authority museum in Ennis, telling the stories of over 6,000 years of the county’s history. 

John Rattigan, Clare Museum’s Curator, says:

“Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2021, it was obvious that there had been a shift in the public’s expectations regarding access to museum collections and museum activities online.”

With an inflexible website that dated back to the early 2000s, Clare Museum responded to this need by commissioning a brand new website, with the following key objectives:

    Allow the public to explore the Museum’s collections, including those objects not on displayProvide a place to tell the stories associated with the objects in the Museum’s collections (and allow discussion on those stories)Improve the visibility of the full range of the Museum’s activities, in Ennis and elsewhereMeet high standards of inclusive design

The stories that objects in museum collections can tell add value far beyond the simple physical artefact. For the first time, Clare Museum can now share its collections widely, beyond the walls of the Museum building, and tell those fascinating stories in text and video.

Our research suggested that many people consider museums to be stuffy, dark, boring places. Indeed, many museum websites tend to be quite monochrome. We wanted to challenge this, so we brought colour into the website design. Building on the Museum’s existing brand assets, we developed a simple visual language with an expanded palette reflecting the colours that visitors will experience within the long-term exhibition, as well as the blues and greens that many of our research participants said best represented County Clare.

Our approach to design is to focus on the fundamentals: we want our work to be timeless, robust and accessible to the broadest possible range of users. By considering those who face challenges when interacting with websites (and indeed museums), we’ve created a website that works well for everybody. It’s fast, clear and concise.

The website is designed to comply as closely as possible with stringent accessibility guidelines. But the code and layout are only part of the story: the content itself needs to be clear and comprehensible to users with a range of needs. We carefully considered all of the text on the website, developing a consistent editorial style that aims to be as inclusive as possible whilst reflecting the personality of the Museum.

John Rattigan, Curator, concludes:

“We now have a platform that is free of the limitations of the physical space of the Museum and that is accessible to anybody, at any time. There are already signs that this is broadening our audience, encouraging return visits to the website and initiating engagement online between the Museum and the public it serves.”

The Clare Museum website project was funded by the Heritage Council and Clare County Council.