Established this past January, 2016, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto is a new institution that combines the existing Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre located in separate buildings but within spitting distance. The former houses a collection of varied items from around the world including drawings by Picasso and Matisse and the latter focuses on Canadian art. The identity for the joint institution has been designed by Toronto-based Underline Studio.
The museum sought a new brand identity that would emphasize its placement within the city and its engagement with both the university community and greater Toronto public. [We] created a brand identity program that is built upon an angled logo and functions across a range of promotional collateral including brochures, programs, posters, banners and a website. The logo is set at the same 16.7 degree as the street grid of Toronto, firmly situating the museum in its Toronto location.
The new logo is typeset in a slightly obscure choice of Neubau’s NB International Pro that has the plainness of Helvetica from afar but reveals more personality up front, which is good as the logo is regularly used large in the applications. The logo is placed at an angle that matches that of Toronto’s grid, a clever idea that helps add some more interest to an otherwise dry logo. The left leg of the “A” is almost straight and I wonder if it would have made sense to modify it slightly so that it sits at a perfectly vertical angle. Also, the bottom left corner of the “A” should have aligned with the top left corner of the “M”. It’s so close it looks like an oversight.
It’s interesting that the logo only goes by “Art Museum” instead of its full name of “Art Museum at the University of Toronto”. It’s a bold move… kind of like a hamburger joint just being named “Hamburger Joint”. “Art Museum” sounds like a category more than a specific place. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just interesting and surprising.
The applications have a deadpan simplicity broken only by the angled logo, which is enough of a visual approach to establish a distinguishing identity for the organization. What really makes the identity work, though, is the color palette that provides a literally vibrant energy to the materials and stands apart from the more typical black and white coloring of museums. Overall, this is a pleasing identity with potential for a range of engaging applications based on the angle of the logo (or other elements down the road).
Thanks to BP&O for the tip.