I’m an Experience Designer and Educator who works with groups from healthcare and museum settings to create real-world, interactive experiences, and exhibits. These span immersive experiences to engage residents who struggle with Alzheimer’s, room-sized environments to introduce museum visitors to art, to engaging passers-by in London to the workings of the brain. I’m a frequent panelist on the subject of public interaction design and innovative exhibition design practices.

I’ve twice served as a panelist on the Innovation Lab at the Center for the Future of Museums, AAM Program Review Panel, and as a Program Advisor for the Presidio Parklands projects and the Institute at the Golden Gate. Prior to museums, I had a career in Interaction Design working with Xerox PARC, Salon.com, Speck Design, among others. I’m an adjunct professor in the graduate design program at California College of the Arts. I hold a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Colorado, and an MFA in Design from Stanford University.

Maria was the perfect partner for Daylight when we needed a professional to lead an exhibit design program. If you are looking for someone with strong design talent, deep exhibit expertise, who also happens to be a caring, enjoyable collaborator, work with Maria! – Sven Newman, Partner, Daylight Design


We hired Maria as a contractor to work on the visual design and interaction design for a high-profile research project. Maria was a delight to work with. Even though she was a contractor, we all soon regarded her as a member of the team. Her designs were clean, attractive, and creative; I still find myself going back to them for ideas. She always had a positive can-do attitude. I would love to work with Maria again in the future. It would be hard to imagine a more capable, personable, and productive designer. – Eric Bier, Principal Scientist at PARC

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
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)

Interviews and Press

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

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

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

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