Sneak Peek: Recreating Ancient Mayan Architectural Facades

Posted: October 20, 2011 - 12:19 , by royal

Here at the ROM, a project team is hard at work bringing Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World to life. The exhibition opens November 19, but ROM staff have been immersed in the project for well over a year!

Emilio Genovese, ROM Exhibit Designer, is a key member of the project team. Today he is working with an artist to finalize large graphic murals that will appear throughout the exhibition. We asked him to answer a few questions about the murals and tell us a little more about his role on the exhibition project team.

Who is the artist of these murals and what drew you to his work?
We were looking for an artist that was able to provide an interpretation to three ancient Mayan building facades, The Hochob Temple facade, the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque and the Palace in Palenque. We searched local art fairs and illustration agencies in the hopes of finding the right person. We found Cam Wilson who was great at bringing these buildings back to their once amazing splendour.

Draft artistic rendering of the Hochob facade.

Partial draft of the facade recreation that will appear at the entrance into the exhibit.

How did the artist create the original work?
We provided Cam with as much information that we had available on the three buildings, like photographs, dimensions, colour palettes etc, to help him piece together features that time has erased from the facades. With the input of Justin Jennings, our curator, we were able to illustrate some of these buildings in a way no one has done before. The artwork will be done as a digital file and printed on banners at full scale to the originals. Despite the fact that the size of the original buildings exceeds the space we had available, we are able to show enough of them that they will be an impressive sight.

How do the murals fit into the overall design of the exhibition?
These theatre flats help in many ways that benefit the exhibition. First they help to divide the spaces which allow us to create rooms that focus on a specific subject. Secondly, they provide great moments for visitors when the encounter them.

As a designer, what is your favourite part of creating a new show at the ROM?
To design a new show like Maya is a great way to learn about the culture. A designer’s job is to understand the problem and then find a solution. This provides me with an opportunity to research the culture, which helps me to find design solutions that are appropriate, relevant and meaningful.