MoMA
The Tim Burton Website: It’s Aliiiiiive!

Months before an exhibition opens we meet to plan out any related online features. Since we’re a small team we often get developers or designers to help for bigger sites. For the Tim Burton exhibition, we worked with the Brooklyn company Big Spaceship, who built the site for our Contemporary Voices exhibition in 2005.

The Big Spaceship offices. No, they don't eat astronaut ice cream.

The Big Spaceship offices. No, they don't eat astronaut ice cream.

Having nearly broken my VHS copy of Beetlejuice from overuse while growing up, I knew the project would be an exciting one for a design firm to sink their teeth into. In the words of Big Spaceship, “Having the opportunity to work with MoMA for an artist as admirable as Tim Burton was amazing. The quality and imagination inherent to his art speak for themselves—we’re particularly inspired by his breadth of work and desire to experiment.”

One of the most exciting parts of the process is the concept meeting with the designers. After an initial meeting to discuss the exhibition, the crew from Big Spaceship put together three different directions for the site, and we sat down together with the curators to pick a design to build out. We asked them to talk about the three directions they proposed.

For the first approach, they had this to say: “Our goal here was to take abstract elements of Tim Burton’s art and extend them into an interactive motif. We used minimal color and designs like checkerboards and stripes to create movement in and out of the frame. It resulted in a whimsical but slightly peculiar mood.”

Design #1 home page

Design #1 home page

Design #1 Works Theme page

Design #1 Works Theme page

For the second approach, they focused on the artist’s illustrations and drawings. “We chose to play off of the contrasting colors Burton often uses in his work—the lights and darks as well as the extreme angles and shadows,” they said.

Design #2 home page

Design #2 home page

Design #2 Works Theme page

Design #2 Works Theme page

For the third, they found inspiration by stepping away from their computer screens. “We adopted a hands-on approach, creating physical staircases and applying stop-motion animation techniques. By employing a practice that Burton specializes in, we were able to produce an environmental feel in line with his painstakingly crafted work.”

Design #3 home page

Design #3 home page

Design #3 Works Theme page

Design #3 Works Theme page

Which do you think best represents Tim Burton’s work? Leave us a comment below.

To see which one we settled on (and how elements of the others were included), check the site out at www.moma.org/timburton on Sunday, when it launches to coincide with the exhibition opening. In a couple of weeks we’ll be back with some behind-the-scenes images of how Big Spaceship created the site.