Launched earlier this year, the Myseum of Toronto is a non-profit organization that celebrates “the evolution of [Toronto’s] communities, cultures, and urban and natural spaces” through the “ideas, art and artifacts we share” in order to generate “a deeper, more personal understanding and appreciation of all that is Toronto”. The Myseum will not have a static venue; instead, it will pop up across the greater Toronto area and rely on its online presence as exhibit space. The inaugural identity for the Myseum has been designed by the New York and Toronto offices of Interbrand.
(All images via Matthijs van Leeuwen’s website.)
The name, Myseum of Toronto, was developed to inspire citizens and invite them into the project as co-creators. As the exhibitions are built from personal stories and artifacts from Torontonians, highlighting “my” within the name was a key way to signify how citizens can interact with and co-create the Myseum, as well as instantly differentiate the experience from a more traditional museum.
I’m conflicted about the name. In part I like that it twists the word Museum ever so slightly to create a catchy name but it can also verge on the too-cute-of-an-idea spectrum. The logo and identity, though, help taper it into serious territory.
As for design, thinking digital-first led Interbrand to an animated, circular logo that lives in a dynamic world. By emulating a clock with its ticking motion, the logo represents how time acts as the lens through which we access all Toronto has to offer at the Myseum, from the past through to the future. A simple black and white identity helps to keep the focus on the stories, artifacts and places that make Toronto what it is.
The first thing that might come to mind to many of you (as it did to me) is the heatedly debated identity for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam by Mevis & Van Deursen; one that I didn’t like one bit, still don’t, even after Mark Kingsley’s passionate argument in its favor at the 2014 Brand New Conference (see “preview” link at the link). Unlike the Stedelijk, this logo I like. Perhaps it’s simply that I like circles better than “S”s but the use of the typically lackluster Helvetica Roman — although I think this might be Neue Haas Grotesk — feels much more engaging and interesting here. Repeating “MYSEUM” four times allows the logo to rotate as an online application and gives it the option to be cropped in any way in print. Despite the troublesome “Y”, the logo is nicely spaced and convincing on a curve. The logo looks best small, when the letters become more texture (as can be seen on the backdrop image) than individual characters to read.
In application, the logo is used mostly big and sometimes cropped — which is why I like to zoom out of the images to make the logo look small — and the layouts are very minimal and all in black and white. At times, it feels a little too drab; even when the logo is placed on top of photos of people as in their website, it feels like a sad museum. Better art-directed photography would give this boost as perhaps some colored paper for the stationery… anything to give it a bit more of a pulse. Nonetheless, I do like the notion of presenting a metaphorical blank canvas through which to tell the stories of Toronto and this identity doesn’t get much in the way (although, as always, I would argue for a more interesting type choice than Helvetica).
Thanks to Brent Couchman for the tip.