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    Screenshot of America's Presidents homepage. An image of the gallery on the left, a bust of George Washington on the right and two buttons View the Exhibition or Research the Presidents


In September 2017, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery reopened its signature exhibition, America’s Presidents. The Portrait Gallery hired Interactive Knowledge to create a bilingual, multifaceted Online Exhibition to provide in-depth information on each of the President’s time in office along with the portrait displayed in the America’s Presidents exhibition. 

The goals

The goal for this project was to create an online exhibition to expand upon the the physical exhibition. The primary audiences for this project are students and teachers who are studying American History and the President’s role. Both the exhibition and research components of the website provide easy access to unique Smithsonian content. 

The exhibition portion of the website is divided into six historical eras that help define important phases of the America’s history. All of the portraits included in the exhibition can be downloaded from the website. The research portion offers a series of curated searches on notable presidents and selected content choices organized by medium including videos and blog posts. Both portions of the site include search windows that encourage visitors to type any term in order to search the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian’s collections.


The IK approach

The site has two main components: the online version of the exhibition itself and a research portal that mines resources from both the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and online databases from across the entire Smithsonian. The launch of the second phase of the site came shortly before the highly anticipated unveiling of the official portraits of former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, painted by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively.


Five mobile devices with various parts of the website are shown


The results

Visual Design Modeled on Themes in the Exhibition
The redesigned America’s Presidents exhibition used a color palette and symbolism that denoted the importance of the subject matter. National Portrait Gallery curators also re-grouped the portraits according to six distinct phases in America’s history. The website design is inspired by the physical exhibition for both the color scheme and content organization.

Educational Resources
A separate section of the website includes National Portrait Gallery generated lesson plans and several Portrait Gallery and teacher-created curricula from the Smithsonian Learning Lab.

Content Managed Site with Administrative Dashboard
Staff can add new presidential portraits and content, create curated searches and add them to the Research materials and expand the Educational Resources section with new and revised content.

This site is fully bilingual: English / Spanish. The website header includes a language selection toggle so visitors can change between languages on any page. The Drupal translation module provides an easy process for translators to add translated content using admin tools that assure the proper translation appears for every word of content, including body text, menu items, buttons and directions.