Harvard museum mag Index goes online, and its Look-Alikes series is a masterpiece
There’s plenty of serious and seriously interesting content in Index, the digital expansion of the Harvard Art Museums’ thrice-yearly magazine. Whatever you’d want to know about various aspects of the collections, activity and history of the museums (including their renovations) it’s in there, updated every weekday, produced by staff at the museums and arts venues around the world.
But one of the best features of the website – an untraditional, Tumblr-style responsive design by museums creative director Steven Waldron and senior graphic designer Zak Jensen with international developer Your Majesty – is also one of the most whimsical and fun: the Look-Alikes.
There are five of these Look-Alikes so far, all using museum staff. “For this series, we at Index have taken a good, long look at ourselves and our colleagues at the museums and have matched staff members with artwork look-alikes in our collections. Taking advantage of a few props occasionally, the results have given us more than a few laughs and sometimes moments of awe,” goes the blurb attached to the images.
The most striking so far are Allison Jackson, a projects conservator, next to Pablo Picasso’s 1901 “Woman with a Chignon” and Daron Manoogian, director of communications, by Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 self-portrait dedicated to Paul Gauguin.
The other three reveal a fairly charming sense of humor. There’s Jeff Steward, director of digital infrastructure and emerging technology, doing his best stone face to match up with a stylized, sculpture of the Olympian god Hermes carved anywhere around 27 BCE to 14 CE. There’s Jenny Magee Stenger, the magazine’s staff writer, capturing the goofy spirit of Jean Dubuffet’s 1954 “Woman with Uncombed Hair” with surprising precision. And, finally, Erin Northington, a student outreach and program coordinator, being Louis-Marin Bonnet’s 1774 “The Woman Taking Coffee” – but replacing the woman’s elegant porcelain pour with a paper takeout cup with a cardboard sleeve.