An online exhibition for Monash University’s graduating students

The Monash University Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture runs an annual exhibition of graduating student work called MADA Now. With the impact of COVID-19 moving education to remote delivery, we worked with the Faculty and design partner The Company You Keep (TCYK) to deliver a custom digital platform that provides an online exhibition experience to elevate student work.

Monash University's Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture has been showcasing the exceptional work of their graduating students since 2010 at their annual event MADA Now. In lieu of a physical exhibition due to the impact of COVID-19, Monash University adapted the delivery of this significant event to online. 

The MADA Now online exhibition experience needed to put student work at the fore. Without the pivotal annual gallery exhibition, the final platform needed to showcase the final works and achievements of students without distraction, be easy to navigate across to different departments and their courses, show which students were given awards for their achievements and be able to host the live stream of events on the opening night. 

These were key considerations of both TCYK and Portable when we set about to design and build the new platform. We kept the needs of students at the centre of our focus, mindful of the turbulent year they had experienced.


Working in partnership with TCYK

Working closely with the heads of faculty and our design partners TCYK, we supported the design decision making process by assessing technical feasibility to ensure we could deliver a cohesive and user-friendly experience. Our developers worked closely with TCYK’s designers early on, attending showcases and providing feedback on designs from a technical and implementation perspective.

Technical solution design

In assessing the technical requirements, we worked with the technical teams at Monash University to understand the larger context the platform would live long term. In doing so, we were able to work with Monash to ensure our React front-end could match the technical team's CMS needs whilst also incorporating the use of the Art, Design and Architecture department's library of student work using APIs. The final solution was implemented using Squiz, ensuring that the long-term management of the MADA Now content could be managed at no additional cost to the university and without requiring any new CMS training.

Front end implementation

Based on the MADA Now designs by TCYK, we built the front end working closely with them as a team communicating regularly about the progress of the build and seeking their input throughout the process. TCYK participated in User Acceptance Testing the site to provide design guidance to Portable's development team. The close partnership between TCYK’s designers and Portable's producers and web developers allowed us to deliver a polished front end experience which brings TCYK's designs to life and showcases student work.

Bulk content uploading

With a large volume of student data to be uploaded to the website, we developed a bulk content upload feature allowing formatted spreadsheets to be easily entered into the system, automatically creating and populating student galleries. The bulk import combined with fetching media and metadata via Flickr’s API prevented double handling and manual data entry.

Online streaming

With the exhibition launch being delivered remotely, the MADA Now site needed to help students, families and friends navigate to the live YouTube events for the acknowledgements and awards ceremonies. Through the website backend, MADA staff could configure a prominent call to action to join one of the several Youtube Live Streams happening on the night. These could then be removed and archived once the event had passed.


The result is a platform able to be managed within Monash's CMS that is both familiar and functional, without compromising on a polished front-end experience. 

The MADA Now online exhibition launched in a digital open night event in December 2020, with live stream events allowing students, lecturers, families and friends to attend remotely and celebrate together including those residing outside of Australia due to border closures.

Check out the MADA Now online exhibition experience for yourself to see the dynamic front end display of student work in action:

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