Our second collaboration with MoMA was truly a dream project: creating a site for an exhibition focusing on Rene Magritte’s key period of development as a Surrealist. The unique aspect of the exhibit was that it was the first of its kind to focus exclusively on the ‘breakthrough’ years of Magritte. So one of our first thoughts was ‘well, how can we make a Surreal website?’ Our brainstorming centered around this idea - what would a site like this look like? How would it react and what transitions could we use? What would it sound like? And what story could we tell? We started focusing on building up a real ‘mood’, a narrative with many layers that could evoke the spirit of Magritte and teach people new things about a very well-known man.
We also had to integrate conservation materials and stories that MoMA had prepared surrounding the exhibition itself. X-rays, Infrared imagery and video from conservators all give insight into Magritte’s process and painting techniques. Users can see the underdrawings beneath a famous portrait, or the paint color along an exposed canvas edge. By integrating these materials into the site experience, the average user can really learn how these works were created. Which is a story that can’t be told by simply looking at the final, framed piece of art. It also allows MoMA to show a larger, more general audience the kind of work that conservators do in preparation for an exhibition of this size.