In this article, we present the MatrixExplorer system, aimed at exploring social networks. It has been designed for researchers in social sciences – sociology and history – and is based on an interactive process with multiple views. MatrixExplorer design comes from several interviews with researchers and a participatory design session that helped us assess users need in term of visualization and exploration of social networks. MatrixExplorer provides two representations for graphs: matrices and nodelink diagrams. Exploration starts from a matrix representation to preserve readability and provides an iterative process to filter and organize the graph to reveal a structure and abstract it so that it can eventually be visualized as a readable node-link diagram.