The Tate Galleries has spent over £1m revamping its online presence in an initiative to replace its 10-year-old website, slated migration by the end of February.

The organisation runs two galleries in London, Tate Modern and Tate Britain, together with a site in Liverpool and two retail outlets. It has over 70,000 pieces of art in its collection.

Speaking to CIO UK, IS director Rob Gethen Smith said the public’s view of the organisation’s online services have changed since the original website was created, when experiencing digital versions of art pieces was considered inferior to the real-life experience.

“The whole experience is viewed in a more holistic way now,” he said.

Gethen Smith told CIO UK that the Tate’s site gets 18 million visitors a year, compared to the galleries’ 7 million, demonstrating how important the site has become for the galleries’ profiles with the art-loving public.

The £1m total spend has come about as a result of four separate but interlinked ICT projects, including

 - Cloud hosting and platform project
 - Renewed e-commerce platform
 - Art & Artist programme
 - Main web CMS & content programme

which have taken place over the last few years.

“The new site will provide a two-way platform for dialogue between the galleries and visitors,” said Gethen Smith. “Through the use of web formats like blogging, we will engage them in debate about our collections, rather than just having them consumer our content.”

Gethen Smith, said the site will also feature a user-driven recommendation engine, which will be used to introduce them to related pieces in the galleries collections, based on what they have searched for.

The two-year project is a root and branch review of the organisation’s IT partners, from underlying hosting - provided by NTT Europe - to the website’s CMS.

Having a hosted service gives the site the sort of flexibility the organisation has not been able to enjoy for the last decade and should make it easier to put in upgrades in the future.

“All I’ve bought is computing power,” says Gethen Smith. “It’s an operational cost and it means that if I need to migrate the site in the future, I don’t have any legacy infrastructure.