Established in 1856, Tretyakov Gallery — beta new site here — is the most comprehensive museum of Russian art in the world, with more than 170,000 works of art displayed throughout 62 rooms, in a stately building in Moscow. It technically opened in 1892 but its story goes back 36 years when a Moscow merchant, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, began collecting Russian paintings and then commissioning them, ultimately donating over 2,000 pieces to establish the gallery. Over the years, the gallery has established sister museums across Moscow, most notably a building dedicated to twentieth-century art, and a range of historical sites. Recently, Tretyakov Gallery introduced a new identity designed by Moscow-based ONY.
Today the gallery develops, it becomes closer to the people, from the format of the classical museum is transformed into a modern, relevant space filled with a diverse array of activities. To develop the image, which will unite the entire museum complex, its projects and activities, needed a universal sign. It could not be entirely new, but it had to look modern, in addition, it was to be understandable to foreign audiences.
The basis of the decision lay down a living letter “T”, shifts the focus on people and the ability to transform into a variety of images and objects. The new “T” combines the tradition of the Cyrillic alphabet and the Russian avant-garde aesthetics. The letter fits in the modern digital world and understood in many languages. The sign is the basis for flexible visual system - is not just a letter, and a window into the world of Russian art. In it there are paintings, sculptures, installations, people.
The old logo was fine… a typical depiction of the museum’s building with decent type. Not very exciting or interpretative and it got the job done but it was unable to encompass all of the extensions from the main gallery location. The new logo features a “T” in an abstract style that looks both classic and contemporary and has been designed to be flexible in what it shows in the stem, either serving as a window to place imagery or as a placeholder for any other vertical shapes, like humans. Keeping the triangles of the crossbar, maintains a consistent visual element as the stem changes, which is what gives this a slightly novel twist from the usual logo-as-window approach. The wordmark in the geometric sans serif isn’t quite right; I think the serif chosen for the identity (shown below) would have yielded a better combination of new and old between monogram and wordmark.
The applications are quite elegant and very nicely laid out with a large “T” punctuating each one. As in the wordmark, I think the serif typography works much better in the applications. One element that’s maybe hard to pick up on in static photos (but shown in the video below) is that the left triangle of the “T” can be used on the top-left corner of a layout — see second image in the posters group — as an anchor for the rest of the content.
Overall, this strikes the right balance of alluding to the 160-plus-year history of the gallery while establishing it as a contemporary cultural center.
Thanks to Ivan Filipov for the tip.