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P is for Window

Reviewed Oct. 20, 2011 by Armin

Industry / Culture Tags /

Portland Art Museum Logo, Before and After

Established in 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The museum houses more than 42,000 objects that span American, Asian, Modern and Contemporary, and Native American Arts, as well as photography and silver. In September the Portland Art Museum introduced a new identity designed by Portland-based Ziba.

Based on this research, a brand strategy was developed to reflect the essence of the institution. Ziba’s design team created a visual identity that clearly communicates the many facets of the Museum. The iconic anchor for the new mark is a large, bold, “P” that serves as a portal — a window — into the Museum. In its application, the collections, exhibitions, and programs will be framed.
Press Release

Portland Art Museum

The previous logo was actually pretty interesting with a smart combination of a traditional serif with a jarringly bold sans serif lacking counters that, together, spelled out the whole name. I’m sure it caused some confusion since you either read “Portland Museum. Art.” or “Art. Portland Museum.” but I still like how it dared to not be straightforward. The new logo, whether intended or not, is a good evolution from those counterless characters through the use of a towering, counterless “P” supported by a nicely contrasting condensed sans serif to spell out the whole name, highlighting the word “Art” in a way reminiscent of the old logo. The final configuration is contemporary and bold — perhaps not terribly groundbreaking, but something the museum should be proud of.

Portland Art Museum

Then we have the good ol’ logo-as-window approach. I think we are reaching a point where as much as we need to ask “Will it fax?” we need to start asking “Will it function as a window?”. It’s starting to become a bit of a cliché but we have to admit that that’s because the approach not only sells amazingly with clients but works visually well 99% of the time. And in this case, since the holding shape is so big, it works especially well. Again, nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s nicely done.

Portland Art Museum

Thanks to Cliff Little for first tip.



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Brand New, is a division of UnderConsideration, displaying opinions, and focusing solely, on corporate and brand identity work. More…

UnderConsideration is a graphic design firm generating its own projects, initiatives, and content while taking on limited client work. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Austin, TX.

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