Peter Gorgels, Internet Manager, Rijksmuseum

Peter Gorgels is responsible for the major redesign of the Rijksmuseum website, which coincided with the museum’s reopening after extensive renovations.

Peter talked with us about the website’s role in opening up access to collections and marketing the museum, and how people are (and aren’t) engaging with the thousands of hi-res images that are now available through Rijkstudio .

Listen to interview


  1. Jennifer Ferrin says:

    This was a really great interview that consisted of a lot of good information. I like that he would like the visitor to have the same experience with the beautiful art on the website as well as an Ipad. Also, It is cool that the museum likes to branch out and text new internet strategies based on their users. For example, he said that their users like the social media site Pinterest, so they made a part of the museum’s website like that. These ideas might work or might not, but it is interesting to hear that a museum is willing to take risks when engaging their visitors. Toward the end of the interview he mentioned how the copyright laws work in the Netherlands. Apparently in the Netherlands if the artist has been dead for over 70 years then the copyright is gone and it is now in the public domain. I thought this was very interesting since I don’t think about how these laws must differ in other countries. Overall, very exciting interview from a museum in another country.

  2. Solimar Salas says:

    Peter Gorgels at the Rijksmuseum has a very clear point of view about what the museum wants to do with its collection: get it to the public. The way their director said it I think works best, keep it simple and personal. With Rijkstudio that has certainly been the case. How much more personal can it be to bring an old master’s work of art into your reality, be it with a tattoo, personalized reproductions you can put up in your home or decorate your car with? That openness the museum presents to the public about its collection is a great way to share the art and attract more visitors to discover the museum. This gives the public a sense of ownership towards the museum and its collection.

  3. Rachel Pierson says:

    The Rijksmuseum website design and Rijksstudio are amazing projects! I was surprised to hear that the Rijkstudio wasn’t used exactly as intended and that people weren’t purchasing posters as had been anticipated. This drives home the idea of adaptability for me and how even these very large projects need to leave room to be modified as they’re being used. I appreciated Peter’s advice on using all the social media platforms differently. Frequently I see museums reposting the same content on their facebook, website, twitter, and so on. But if this is the case, there is little incentive for an individual to follow these different communication streams. Additionally, the language and formatting should all have a different feel for these different outlets that best fits their user demographics and style.

    1. Melissa Swindell says:

      I was a little surprised, too, that the site wasn’t increasing the sales of posters, etc. more than it had. But thinking about it, visitors to the site can reproduce the image on their own, so why should they purchase the poster from the Museum? This is a little cynical, but I can’t imagine it’s not happening. … unfortunately.

  4. Jennifer Kingsley says:

    I’m fascinated by this notion of increasing the circulation of your collection by inviting people to use images of it in creative ways. I’d be very curious to know 2 things. 1) Which collection items are attracting the most attention – i.e.: is this helping make known some lesser known works from the collection? 2) how does this impact the presence of that object in people’s imagination – does increasing the circulation of one particular object make it more visited? Does this create the possibility of making more pieces take on the iconic status of the Mona Lisa’s?
    I agree with Peter Gorgels that reproducing the image actually increases rather than decreases its aura, and I imagine that in the marketing world, there is very good data on how increasing the visibility of a product impacts sales. I wonder though, in the long-term, how being more visible will impact how engaged visitors are with the collection. Right now it does seem that visitors are spending more time than before looking at the objects, so that seems to indicate more engagement. On the other hand, as the recent stories about photography suggest, some of the more canonical objects seem to become objects of photography rather than looking.
    A very thought-provoking project that I will keep following for sure.

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