The Rothko Chapel is home to many tensions: light and dark, sanctuary and public space, the arts and human rights efforts. Rather than smooth them over, we brought them to the forefront—with branding and storytelling designed to pique interest and drive understanding of the many contrasts that lie at the heart of the Rothko experience.

More than 80,000 visitors flock to the Rothko Chapel each year, many traveling from out of town or out of the country. Some come to experience the fourteen description-defying paintings by Mark Rothko. Others are drawn to the chapel’s human rights programming, or simply want to witness the light and shadows created by the building’s unique architecture.

Since 1971, the chapel has meant many things to many people. But where does Rothko’s motivational stillness fit into an increasingly fast, tech-driven world? How can silence speak volumes and captivate new visitors with the promise of a deeply personal experience?

Mark Rothko died in 1970 before he could see his masterpiece installed. His legacy to all who encounter his work in the Rothko Chapel is the transformative power of art.
Rothko Image Archives

Directly outside the building is a shallow basin reflecting Barnett Newman's sculpture Broken Obelisk (1965), an artwork dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. It was beside this sculpture that Dominique de Menil inaugurated the Rothko Chapel in 1971.
Rothko Image Archives

The Rothko Chapel is for everyone. It’s also different for everyone. Lengthy “instructions” on how to properly experience Rothko would be antithetical to the soul of the chapel itself. Rather than fight these tensions, they became our starting point: a place that was open to all, yet belonging to none.

Working closely with the chapel’s staff and board of directors, we created messaging and visuals that recast Rothko as a place where one can reflect on and reconcile the paradoxes that exist in every life. Touchpoints from print to web to signage now invite visitors to experience the Rothko Chapel on their own terms, framing time spent there as an escape from constant digital connection, and an escape into the mysteries we hold inside ourselves.

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