Maria Mortati is a designer, educator, and artist who develops interactive and participatory projects for use in real-world environments. Her work includes exhibition design, visual art, and teaching. Socially involved art, human-centered design, and ongoing experimentation all influence her values and methods.

In terms of context, she works with public institutions, private, and the outdoors. The projects range from bringing delight to Alzheimer’s disease patients in nursing homes, experimenting with wayfinding at museums, creating environments that introduce visitors to art, and educating Londoners on how the brain functions. Her art seeks to engage the unfamiliar with the unknown and bring joy to those who are in need.

Her projects have been exhibited in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and London.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado. She obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Design from Stanford University. She has worked as an adjunct at the California College of the Arts.

Maria lives and works in San Francisco, California.

Interviews and Press

Fast Company World Changing Ideas finalist for the Experience Station at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish LIving, 2022

Podcast: On Empathy, Community-Centered Design and a Healthy Dose of Curiosity, Interview with Maria Mortati, 2022

SCAN Foundation Honorable Mention Innovation Award, Experience Station at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, 2021

The Scent of Hope, Using Essential Oils to Treat Dementia, An Interview with Maria Mortati, 2020

How Museums Are Creating a New Narrative (interview/podcast), 2020

Newscast, Baltimore Museum of Art Big Table Gallery, 2015

Public Art Review, Issue 53, Museums Go Public, Fall/Winter 2015

American Educational Research Association, 2013

Internet Cat Video Festival Ready for Minneapolis Encore, 2013

Possibilities for Evolution: Artists Experimenting in Art Museums

Any Questions? At the Oakland Museum

Can I Have an Idea, Walker Art Center Blog

Parks, the New Climate Classroom, Insights For Climate Change Communication & Education, 2014

Walker Art Center’s Open Field Returns for a Summer of Social and Creative Exchange, Press release, 2014

ARTS REVIEW | The 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival, Twin Cities Daily Planet, 2013

This Internet Cat Video Festival Documentary Is Just Purr-Fect, Huffington Post, 2013

Internet Cat Video Festival 2013, Walker Art Center Magazine

Launch of Machine Project Hammer Museum Public Engagement Artist In Residence Report, 2012

Machine Project Hammer Museum Public Engagement Artist in Residence (Report), 2012

What Can We Learn From Artist’s Projects In Museums? Iris, The Getty Museum’s On-Line Magazine, 2012

Experimenting in Museums: Taking Risks with How We Work, Art Museum Teaching, 2012

Making The Case for Experimental Design, California Association of Museums, e-News, 2012

New at Museums: Science for All Ages, Wall Street Journal, 2012

Maria Mortati – Power of Prototype, 2008

Sitting on the edge / Art furniture show in the Mission gives the mind new places to rest, 2003


Clients & Collaborators:

Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
Asian Art Museum
Baltimore Museum of Art
Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Dallas Museum of Art
frog Design
Golden Gate Parks Conservancy
Gyroscope Museum Exhibits
– Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
– The Leonardo
– The Bishop Museum
Hope Lab
Intervista VRML
Jaime Kopke
Kathy Mancall
Lauren Allen
Machine Project
Mark Allen
New Mexico Highlands University
Oakland Museum of California
Phil Ross
Post Typography
Pseudo Studio
Rucker Design Group
Sainsbury Wellcome Centre
Sarah Schultz
Sasha Harris-Cronin
Scott Minneman
Silicon Graphics
San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living
Speck Design
Stanford University
Walker Art Center
West Office Exhibition Design
– California Science Center
– Las Vegas Springs Preserve
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)