BoW Title: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Institution: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Designer: Bluecadet
Category: Museum Professional


Bluecadet was honored to fully redesign the website for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), founded in 1805 by Charles Willson Peale. This groundbreaking institution continues to bring together artists and the public through exceptional teaching programs, a world-class American art collection, and an active exhibition and programming calendar.

PAFA’s website had to serve two masters: the school and the museum, along with their respective audiences. We launched the project with a thorough discovery process, establishing each program’s unique needs, and identifying how the school and museum supported and strengthened each other. Rather than creating separate and potentially competing websites, we created a unified web experience anchored by a content plan that highlights their connections.

The homepage takes a holistic approach in equally promoting content for both the school and museum—helping visitors understand PAFA’s diverse offerings and unique history, and encouraging in-depth site exploration. For example, students can now research an area of study, get to know the distinguished faculty and their work, and simultaneously see current exhibitions and programming that could enhance their educational experience.

A website for a leading art institution needs to be as visually compelling as it is informative. Drawing inspiration from PAFA’s new brand identity, created by Heads of State, we married contemporary and classic design sensibilities—combining large photography and bold pops of color with elegant typography. The website is responsive and includes progressive enhancements for both desktop and mobile users. The mobile experience also includes smart loading techniques and dynamic layouts optimized for various mobile viewing experiences.

We worked closely with PAFA’s executive leadership throughout the site’s development, conducting thoughtful reviews with the President and CEO, the director of the museum, the director of the school, and the marketing, communications, and admissions directors, among others. The result of our collaboration: a website that both captures and celebrates PAFA’s rare, historic combination of world-class art museum and training ground—from Thomas Eakins, to David Lynch, to generations of artists yet to come.