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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Party Like A MOFAA


Party Like A MOFAA

Posted on August 6, 2008 and read 1,918 times

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“I can’t find the address Mimi…. Yes, I have the pamphlet you gave me, it’s in my hands right now…. Yes, I followed the directions exactly, but I’m telling you, I can’t find the mo’fo’, I mean MofAA.”

Rewind a few days, before my most recent trip to New York City. Mimi, ihaveanidea’s Director of Communications, told me that our friends at Corbis had sent us passes to a new museum they were involved with. Corbis is one of our partners, and they often let us know about cool and intriguing things happening in their world. So Mimi gave me a pass, along with all the information that I thought I needed.

MofAA stands for the Museum of Art for the Arts. This redundantly named gallery was designed by architect Deiter Beyer, and rests atop the famous Daniel Burnham Building, AKA The Flatiron Building, in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. For a new museum, the MofAA has an astoundingly vast collection, with over four million pieces from the likes of Warhol, Hubble, Lascaux and Daguerreotype. I myself am not a huge art buff, but I do like ol’ Andy (I had created the campaign for the Warhol exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario two summers ago) and so I figured I’d check the MofAA out.

Now if only I could find the place.

Oh, I had no problem reaching the Flatiron Building; it’s a New York landmark. But damned if I could locate the address of the MofAA. As amazing as it seemed, the address – 912 Broadway – isn’t anywhere to be found. Mimi wasn’t much help when I called her, so I decided to see if the people at Corbis knew anything. But then when I looked up Corbis’ New York number and address and discovered they were located at 902 Broadway, it dawned on me.

The MofAA doesn’t exist.

Not in the traditional sense at least. The Museum of Art for the Arts is the creation of FWIS, a graphic design firm with offices in New York and Portland. FWIS frequently works with Corbis, and the design company came up with an idea “over a fifth of scotch,” jokes creative director Christopher Papasadero.

“We’ve been working with Corbis on a number of projects.,” says Chris. “We’ve noticed that most of the images people see when they glance at Corbis’ website are the modern ones, very contemporary photography. But when we looked through Corbis’ vast archive, we were amazed to see how many incredible images there were that didn’t fall into that category. These are the things that most people don’t even know about when they’re looking for ideas. Fine art collections, historical, scientific photography, you name it. And as designers, we knew that we weren’t only inspired by contemporary images, but all types.”

“So we told Corbis, look , it’s like you’re a museum, perhaps the biggest museum in the world,” Chris continues. “Why not just make a museum, and do everything that a physical museum would do?”

And that’s exactly what they did. They built a virtual, online museum around images from Corbis’ near endless archives. The museum contains three ‘floors’, and despite existing only in cyberspace, real life architects were consulted in its design. Much like a physical museum, the virtual world of the MofAA is centered around various exhibitions made up from Corbis’ expansive archive. Don’t expect to see clichéd stock images of businessmen on the phone or jumping hurdles on a white background (unless, of course, they decide to do an exhibition on the cheesiest imagery on earth). These are stunning pictures, handpicked by Corbis’ own historians and archivists from real life collections.

The MofAA’s three floors delegated for different levels of visitors. The first floor is the “general admission” floor, and its exhibits are viewable by anybody with a computer. To progress to the second floor, you must be a MofAA “member” – easily attainable by registering with Corbis or keying your current registration info. Like a museum, membership has its benefits, including access to more work, and inclusion in special events. But to get up to the penthouse, the third floor of the MofAA, you must become a “benefactor.” How do you become one of those? Generally speaking, you must be a client of Corbis who has spent a specific amount on images. Don’t worry, the dollar amount is probably less than donating to a real museum to get a wing named after you. The presentations on all three levels have audio commentary for each image, again, much like certain exhibits in real galleries.

To further stretch the illusion, FWIS and Corbis created the tangible material you’d associate with a real museum. There is a very detailed brochure, complete with all the MofAA info (including a semi imaginary board of directors and a totally imaginary address that I mistakenly looked for.) There are authentic looking printed tickets, and even those metal button things they give you to wear at real museums.

So how has the feedback been so far? Have I been the only person wandering around Madison Square Park looking for this place? “The feedback has been great,” says Chris. “There was never a hard launch for the MofAA. It’s been a gradual launch, mainly with Corbis’ close associates and most exclusive customers. Many of them caught onto the idea quickly, and they really seem to enjoy going into the museum, exploring and offering comments. As it grows, the MofAA will be directed towards more people, and will have more things to offer. There will be special guest curators putting together exhibits, and even a performing arts festival that the MofAA will sponsor.”

Seems very interesting so far, and we’ll be watch the MoFAA as it expands and continues to walk the line between real and really amazing art. In the meantime, I gotta learn to check the websites of places before I visit them.


Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer/SBN2
ihaveanidea






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