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Mariano Desmarás

Owner, Creative Director

Museum Environments

Region: NYC

Committee(s): Marketing

Mariano Desmarás is an exhibit designer with two decades of working for museums around the nation and the world. He is both an architect and a graphic designer though more importantly he has trained and worked in a variety of cultural and linguistic environments. This experience has strengthened his ability at practicing an adaptive design that seeks cultural fluency with an intended audience.

He is the owner of Museum Environments (ME) that is presently designing the Molina Family Latino Gallery for the National Museum of American History Smithsonian. ME has also designed numerous bilingual exhibits for institutions such as the Museum of Chinese in America, El Museo del Barrio, Inter-American Bank and the Anacostia Community Museum Smithsonian.

Co-Creating the Visitor’s Experience

Mariano has found success by reimaging the design process. His practice has developed means and methods of co-creation that allow the contributions of a variety stakeholders and which ultimately impacts the richness of the visitor experience. Often, he invites artisans, hand-lettering designers, illustrators and artists to contribute to the exhibits and the results are authentic and vivacious.

Integrating Inclusion as Audience Development Tool

For the last decade Mariano has been immersed in studying and testing ways that design can advance inclusion in audience development for museums. He is the former Chair of the Latino Network of AAM and has lectured at the Smithsonian Latino Center. That experience informs his exhibit designs, in which he seeks solutions that are inclusive and celebrate diversity through audience participation.

Latin American Heritage, Columbia University Architecture Degree

Mariano grew up in Puerto Rico with a family of Argentinian heritage. He studied at the University of Michigan, receiving dual degrees in English and Graphic Design. He worked as an editorial graphic designer in Paris, France before acquiring a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University in New York. He then worked for five years with Ralph Appelbaum Associates and other award-winning design firms including the Rockwell Group. His work has received numerous top design awards, most notably from the American Institute of Graphics Arts (AIGA), Type Directors Club and Society of Environmental Graphic Design.

He enjoys living in New York City—a city with an endless parade of museum exhibits. He loves time at home cooking for his family.

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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