The Ruffian

MoMA takes over the subway, Creativity Online.

Posted in Uncategorized by The Ruffian on February 15, 2009

Until March 15, a subway transfer in Brooklyn can also be a quick lesson in modern art history. For MoMA, New York City’s modern and contemporary art museum, happycorp replaced every ad space in the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street station with reproductions of works from its permanent collection, transforming a grimy New York subway into an interactive art exhibit. See images from the exhibit, below.

From Monet’s water lilies and Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” to art that looks a lot like a neon sign, subway riders can view the 58 images of art with many of the resources found in the actual museum. Street teams handed out brochures and maps of the exhibit, so riders could identify and locate work throughout the station. On the campaign website, users can download an audio tour for further information about 10 pieces on display. Happycorp also created an interactive voice response system for the station’s public phones. Users can call a posted 1-800 number to get information about the project or be connected with the museum’s membership department. The IVR will also cue callers to type in a three-digit code for a specific piece of artwork and then play informational audio for that piece. Museum educators also gave tours of the subway exhibit.

In summer 2007,The Grand Tour was a campaign for the National Gallery in the U.K., with Hewlett-Packard, that found select paintings in the streets of London’s West End. Walkers could interact with the art displays via maps, tours and a downloadable audio guide. The campaign won design gold at Cannes in 2008.

Doug Jaeger, CEO and founder of thehappycorp global, acknowledges MoMA Atlantic/Pacific’s similarity to the National Gallery effort, though points out marked differences. Jaeger is a member of MoMA’s marketing advisory committee, which also includes Pentagram’s Paula Scher, Gerry Graf and 2×4 cofounder Michael Rock.

“We wanted to do something very true to the New York experience, so we picked one of the largest stations in the subway network,” Jaeger says. “We worked with CBS outdoor to increase the number of ad spaces available, so we could really increase the density of the art experience. There are additional vinyls up on the 4,5 and 2,3 trains.”

“We were transforming the subway into the museum experience, not just bringing artwork into the public space,” he continues.

Jaegar says the campaign is intended to drive membership of people who commute to Manhattan from Brooklyn. “It’s a 24/7 experience. We want the MoMA and the art at the MoMA to be as accessible as possible.”

The subway turnstiles and pillars in the station are also MoMA branded. The campaign was revealed on February 10, after a teaser campaign that blocked out every ad space with a black sign that read “installation in progress.”

MoMA’s in-house design team handled design and branding for the campaign. Julia Hoffmann, MoMA’s cd for advertising and graphics says the campaign’s large, simple and repeated messaging was meant to communicate instantaneously with the busy commuter. “The double sided arrow suggests movement, going from A to B, from home to work from buying groceries to meeting a friend and vice versa and the pink is loud and is not competing with any of the colors of the NYC subway lines,” she says.

The museum’s latest graphic identity was developed with Scher and Pentagram. Prior to her MoMA role, Hoffman has spent time at Pentagram, as well as Crispin, Porter + Bogusky.

Monet, Water lilies at the Atlantic Ave Station in Brooklyn.

Monet, Water lilies at the Atlantic Ave Station in Brooklyn.


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