The Wilton Historical Society recently received a $1,500 grant from Connecticut Humanities (CTH), which will partially fund the creation of a new website.

“We are very appreciative of the Connecticut Humanities for their support, it has allowed us to go forward with a long needed project,” said Leslie Nolan, executive director of the Historical Society. The Society sought funding to redesign and replace the current website, train staff to maintain and update it, and to introduce new features. Current scheduling anticipates that the new site will launch in September.

“It is a given that today’s audience expects to use a functional, up-to-date website.  At this time, the Wilton Historical Society’s site is providing the bare minimum,” Nolan added. “A complete redesign of the Society’s website will provide intellectual as well as physical access to our resources, which is an essential part of program planning.”

By making the site more attractive, interactive, and easier to navigate, visitors will be more likely to use it. Museum staff time will be used more efficiently as they will be able to refresh or add new sections quickly with a site that is easier to manipulate. The new design will include the capacity for a future access point to highlights of the Society’s permanent collections. The redesign will reinforce the institutional identity/branding which distinguishes the Society’s marketing materials, signage, and weekly e-newsletter.

The new website will also make good use of the popular “Betts Bulletins” that have been appear from time to time in the e-newsletters.  These interesting offerings, which are in an illustrated “Did you know” format, touch on both local history (“Did You Know? Yankee Doodle Was a Local Boy?”) and a diverse variety of historical topics including ice harvesting, the eggnog riot at West Point, and Lead Belly.  The “Betts Bulletins” will be re-formatted into a blog which will be accessed on the home page.

Brown Bear Creative, selected for the project, designs and develops professional websites for towns, schools, libraries, non-profit organizations, and small businesses. Their work has been recognized by the American Library Association, the Connecticut Library Association, and the Connecticut Art Directors Club. Brown Bear Creative will work in tandem with Pat Scully Design, the Wilton Historical Society’s graphic artist. Pat Scully, who specializes in working with non-profit organizations, is responsible for creating the designs for most of the print projects for the Society, including advertising, posters, flyers, invitations, banners, and exhibition catalogs.

Connecticut Humanities helps local museums and historical societies build professionalism and ensure their programs and collections remain vibrant community resources through StEPs-CT–a two-year program created with the Connecticut League of History Organizations, and run in partnership with the Connecticut Historical Society, that guides them towards excellence in six areas of organizational practice. The Wilton Historical Society is now in its second year of participation, and this grant for the website redesign is connected to the program.