(Est. 1846) “The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoo—shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world. The Institution was founded in 1846 with funds from the Englishman James Smithson (1765-1829) according to his wishes ‘under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.’ We continue to honor this mission and invite you to join us in our quest.”
Fisk Studio (Washington DC)
One of the biggest changes was the newly added margin around the sun. The visual tension where the sun touched the sky was making the logomark difficult to see. Adding just a little margin allowed the sun to shine and made the logomark easier to recognize when treated small. It was also a strategic choice to remove the word "institution" from the primary logo lockup. Several studies were done in order to arrive at the conclusion that logomark recognition was at 2-3% without the inclusion of the word Smithsonian.
Images (opinion after)
In principle there is not much new here but I can imagine how big these small changes felt to the people at the Smithsonian. Removing the word “Institution” from the logo — not from the name — probably required a hundred meetings but it makes a huge difference as it allows the important word, “Smithsonian”, to stand out as much as possible and given that it’s already a long word, it needs all the breathing room it can get. The change to the sun icon is also small but significant as I think it accentuates the shape of the sun a lot better. I still like the old one but in terms of performance I like the new version better. I’m surprised there isn’t a tiny-use version for when the Smithsonian logo is locked-up with the other logos and the sun becomes extra hard to discern. Overall, this is an identity evolution probably no one will notice but it’s a great, quiet change that should serve institution well.