Mariana Mogilevich


Arts, Environment, Public Space
Curatorial, Editorial, Writing

Great Falls, Great Food, Great Stories

Great Falls National Historic Park | 2015-16

This project for the Great Falls National Historic Park in Paterson, New Jersey addresses one of the fundamental challenges for the future of the national parks system: how to engage and serve diverse audiences in a multiethnic society. This multidisciplinary project interprets the history and contemporary experience of the city of Paterson and its Great Falls in ways that engage diverse New Jersey audiences with the city, the park, and each other.

Great Falls Great Food Great Stories connects community stories and experiences to the park and its legacy, making its historical narrative of ecology, immigration and industry relevant to contemporary multicultural audiences and providing multiple physical and conceptual entry points into the park. A combination of wayfinding, interpretive signage, and partnerships with local food businesses work to intertwine the historical narrative of the Great Falls and Paterson’s culture and economy to contemporary life in the city through the lens of food. Through new stories, multilingual signage, special events and social media, the GFGFGS platform connects the national park and the city and encourages audiences to see both spaces as one continuum: The city is the park and the park is the city.

The project embedded the Great Falls and their legacy into the everyday fabric of the city, from commercial streets to restaurants, bakeries, and the public library. GFGFGS launched in September 2015 through a campaign of posters in restaurant windows pointing Patersonians to the Falls, and highlighting signature dishes to visitors. We also developed interpretive "storyfronts" scattered throughout Paterson's Market Street (also known as "Little Lima.") In 2016, we expanded the project to the predominantly Middle Eastern Main Street, and installed new "storyfronts" throughout city. The "storyfronts" tell a new story about Paterson: stories of Paterson's food, industry, and immigrants, developed from over a year of research and interviews with Patersonians. All the project signage and communication featured the three most-commonly spoken languages in Paterson (English, Spanish, and Arabic).

Great Falls Great Food Great Stories was the winner of the National Parks Service and Van Alen Institute’s competition National Parks Now in 2015. I was part of an interdisciplinary team with experience in design, communications, and community engagement, working with Frances Medina, Manuel Miranda, Valeria Mogilevich, June Williamson and Willy Wong. Manuel, Valeria and I expanded the project in 2016 in collaboration with the Hamilton Partnership and with the support of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Read more about National Parks Now ︎︎︎
Read more on Ethnic NJ ︎︎︎

Curatorial, Environment, Public Space

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