Established in 1972, the Museum of the History of Photography in Krakow is the only museum in Poland devoted to photography. Its collection includes stereograms, autochromes, ambrotypes, albumen prints, glass film pictures, and celluloid film pictures depicting Polish history as well as many cameras and dark room equipment. Throughout the year it holds exhibitions with work from photographers from around the world to complement its focus on Polish photographers. In preparation for renovations in 2020 and 2021 to the two buildings it occupies and with the goal of broadening its audience, specifically to foreign-speaking visitors, the museum announced it’s changing its name to MuFo, a contraction of Muzeum Fotografii, and introduced a new identity designed by Warsaw, Poland-based Podpunkt, through an open competition, co-organized with the Association of Graphic Designers.
The museum, above all is a place for visitors. We wanted the whole identification to be extremely friendly, inviting, readable and strong. That’s why we focused on simple associations like lens, vision, voyeuring, observation and shutter. An eye is what all these terms have in common and it has become the symbol of the Museum.
The old logo was arguably fine with cropped letters inside a circle as if it were a camera lens zooming in on its subject. Unfortunately, to achieve that effect, the stem of the letter “h” was stretched beyond appropriate proportions and the “f” looked as if it was being sucked into a black hole. Not too bad, really, but fairly generic. The new logo is quite bold, introducing an eye as its icon, which is an apt metaphor for photography as, holistically, it’s about seeing the world and, more literally, it’s the element of your face that you smoosh against the camera. Its size in relationship to the wordmark (and how it’s used in application) is important as it makes the icon appear massive, almost with a Big Brother kind of vibe. The wordmark, typeset in TT Commons, looks good and manages to hold its own against the giant icon.
The eye icon can then expand into a series of eye and camera abstractions, which is an interesting idea and it’s done almost convincingly well but some of the interpolations between eye camera-front-view make you wonder what exactly you are looking at. Still, it’s a valiant deviation.
With a strong sign and variables layouts and form of the message it’s a dynamic project that gives multiple in-use options. A powerful sign is complemented by colors - the museum communicates in a very diverse urban landscape and in an extremely overloaded digital world. A wide range of vivid colors will empower the museums communication and will make it clear and recognizable.
Well played on the business cards!
The applications are on the brink of being great but they fall short when it comes down to the details. I love how the icon is used big, going edge to edge, and I like the blocks of color underneath it that hold the wordmark and other information but the spacing around the secondary elements is not quite right, as the loose spacing of the wordmark clashes when it’s placed 5 pixels above the bottom of a layout and there are too many things piled on top of one another. The color palette is all over the place so there is no cohesion in that regard and when the colors are used to tint black and white photography it sort of cheapens the work. The typography, all in TT Commons, is fine but, again, the spacing doesn’t really work and simply makes all the layouts feel busy and cramped.
Since this was a competition I have the feeling — the hope — that the applications were somewhat rushed and done more as proof-of-concept because there is plenty of potential here. Things just need to be reigned in and re-focused to communicate more clearly and to better celebrate the photography that is the core of this museum.