Every year, the Maine College of Art hosts their largest fundraiser, a live art auction and gallery event called Collect. The art sold here is created by alumni, students, staff, partners, and community members. The proceeds of this event support the school’s Student Scholarship Fund. Collect is traditionally hosted in-person at The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art. While this fundraiser helps to keep the college affordable for its students, it also gives emerging artists a platform to display and sell their work.
In previous years, Collect took place on-campus. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on all in-person events for safety reasons. It became clear to MECA they needed to pivot from their traditional auction, fast.
After brainstorming alternatives, we agreed that the best strategy would be to host the sale event online. We would build a site that would be able to host the online auction and then after, the transition to an online public art sale. This alternative would allow for MECA to fundraise and still provide artists the exposure during the traditional event.
We built an eCommerce website that offered users an intuitive experience to browse over 500 art pieces from more than 140 artists. The art was organized in categories depending on the types of art and the material it was made out of. One crucial element for the online art sale was the live auction functionality, which allowed users to bid on selected art pieces within a three hour period. After this auction was complete, the winning bidders were able to purchase and view their orders through their customer dashboard
To provide a fluid shopping experience, we built a seamless navigation, live search results, save to my wishlist and the ability to view art pieces by the artist. We also integrated the checkout payments with their existing payment gateway provider.
The COVID-19 regulations were a roadblock for MECA. However, pivoting to a new strategy proved to be a success. With a virtual space, they reached a far larger audience than their in-person event because it allowed for more users to participate. With a combination of efforts from their staff, students, and our team, their new solution proved capable of providing a positive user experience and fulfilling the mission of MECA’s largest annual fundraiser.