The 50,000 commuters who pass through the bustling (and apparently permanently under construction) Atlantic/Pacific subway station in Brooklyn each day might find themselves focusing on their immediate surroundings rather than grimly fixating on the dream of attaining their destination. At least, that’s the hope of executives from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which has rented the station’s 58 ad units and installed reproductions of some of the institution’s most iconic and beloved artworks. (Robert Indiana’s “Love” image installed in the stairwell entrance to the B/Q train platform, shown, above.)
Underground art isn’t a new idea, and MOMA itself has used the subway as a marketing venue for years. But the decision to take over an entire station and install the artworks themselves, unadorned with comment or branding, essentially converts Atlantic/Pacific into an outpost of MOMA. The discreet, traditional museum-style information placards shown alongside each image makes the connection distinct for observant onlookers. “In this case, the campaign concentrates on a specific geographic area in Brooklyn which we know to be culturally-savvy,” says MOMA’s chief communications officer, Kim Mitchell. She wouldn’t disclose the budget of production — or the ad spend, which was bought through CBS Outdoor — but added that metrics for evaluating the program’s success will include attendance, membership and redemptions of coupons, among other things.
Judging from an unscientific survey of commuters hightailing it through the station yesterday evening, many were still more focused on getting out of there than on stopping to admire a Mondrian. But with eye-catching, magenta-colored directional signage and explanatory text located throughout the station, an associated web site from creative partners, thehappycorp and leaflets offering both a map of what’s on display and a discount for entry to the museum itself, MOMA is clearly hoping the experiment will keep the punters heading to midtown Manhattan to see the real things, despite the difficult economy.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.