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Design Strategist, Mexic-Arte Museum

Design Strategist, Mexic-Arte Museum

Photo by Kade Schemahorn

Photo by Kade Schemahorn

Mexic-Arte is the Mexican American Art Museum of Texas. The museum is located in the heart of downtown Austin–a part of the city rich in Mexican heritage.

Photo, Texas State Archives

Photo, Texas State Archives

Mexican American-owned businesses like the Chili Factory and Garza's Market dappled 5th Street from Republic Square all the way to Brush Square. Mexic-Arte marks the center and heart of what museum founders propose as the 5th Street Mexican American Cultural Heritage Corridor.

Mexic-Arte's mission is to promote the cultural significance of Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and traditions through collection, preservation, and presentation.


Photo, Mexic-Arte

Photo, Mexic-Arte

Museum Executive Director Sylvia Orozco leads the implementation of diverse programming and partners with local and national agencies to see projects through like the exhibition at right, inviting artists to construct community altars in celebration of el Dia de los Muertos. Though they've been successful–many ideas never make it through all the red tape.

Working with designers Kade Schemahorn and Philip Koske we set out to build a cohesive narrative that Sylvia could present in her master plan before city planners and stakeholders. First step was to develop constraints that would guide the design process. We listed Sylvia's goals for the museum, affinity mapped them, and narrowed down to 3:

  • Incorporates Mexican American history into the environment

  • Invokes a sense of inevitability through partnerships and adoption

  • Supports and builds upon the existing concept of the MACH Corridor with Mexic-Arte as the anchor

We created over 200 hand drawn concepts then filtered them through our constraints with post-it notes. A hierarchy emerged among the concepts. They could be grouped into small programs Sylvia and her team could execute on their own: DIY. There were Mid-size programs that required permitting and collaboration with city partners. The last grouping extended Sylvia's partnerships to private entities like MTA–Austin's primary transportation provider. This provided Sylvia and her team with a framework they could work within moving forward.


Our design strategy included a provocative narrative and a set of complimentary installations and programs that Sylvia and the Mexic-Arte team could present to planning agencies.

Each set of designs is based on an important historical location along the 5th Street Mexican American Cultural Heritage or MACH corridor. Collection A builds on Brush Square beginning with weekend events in the square centered around Mexican music, folk art, dance, and food. The commuter rail stations will feature educational posters and banners telling the rich history of the MACH corridor. At the edge of the park will be a sculpture by a Mexican-American artist.

Illustrations by Philip Koske

Illustrations by Philip Koske

Collection B plays off Mexic-Arte's position as the heart of the MACH corridor. The museum itself is wrapped in Mexican-American graffiti and art. Street signs call attention to the emerging stories with Viva Austin imagery. Private segway tours will stop at Mexic-Arte and, with information given to them from Sylvia's team, they can tell an exciting part of Austin's history.

The 3rd collection features a geo-located mobile app that notifies you when you're near a historical location. You'll be able to open the app and read stories about markets and historical moments at Republic Square for instance. You can also see a 3D mock-up of the city highlighting important Mexican-American businesses.