This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.
Originally established in 1883, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is one of the largest, and oldest, museums in the United States, with more than 50,000 works of art in its collection housed in a 150-plus-acre area. Various components make up the IMA: There is the Lilly House and Gardens, a 26-acre historic estate and house museum; the 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, an art park that includes untamed woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake; the Toby, a 558-seat theater for film, talks and performances; the Miller House, a mid-century residence designed by Eero Saarinen with interiors by Alexander Girard, located off campus in Columbus; and, finally, the Indianapolis Museum of Art itself, which renders the odd and redundant designation of “Indianapolis Museum of Art IMA.” Clearly, a large organization with a lot of related parts. And to make sense of all of them, IMA worked with Pentagram partner Abbott Miller — an Indiana native, for those looking for authenticity and street cred — to create a new identity.
Let’s talk first about the main museum lock-up that helps introduce the visual language that then permeates the rest of the entities. The most obvious thing that you will either love or hate is the aggressive cropping of the word “Indianopolis” by slicing the second “A” in half and splitting it into two lines. I happen to love this. First, it resolves the issue of such a long word throwing everything off. Second, it can serve as a reminder that this museum is located in Indianapolis, Indiana by isolating that first line. And lastly, well, I just think it looks cool and adds a certain edge to the museum. The lock-up with the IMA acronym is where things get a little unbalanced, and there is an unresolved relationship between the two elements and their colors, sizes and letter-spacing. After you see the chart of the whole program, below, come back to this and see if it makes any difference to you.
For better or for worse, I maintain a heavy load of work lodged in my brain and whenever I see something new, I inevitably sift through all that visual debris for references, and when I first looked at this logo it reminded me of the work Abbott Miller did for Architect magazine in 2006. And rightly so, since the type choice is the same, Taz by Lucas de Groot. It’s a fine choice for both instances, but I just had to mentally make the division between the two. Luckily, absoluelty none of the thousands of visitors to IMA will have the same problem I did.
When you see the relationship between all the elements is when you are able to grasp just how complicated this standardization exercises can really be, and how the whole is, if not more, just as important as the parts. The chart above also shows a quick view of what lock-ups work well small and which don’t and it also helps emphasize the need for a simple visual solution and in this case, the type choice has such an interesting personality that it helps tie everything together. Simply browsing through the IMA web site you get a sense of the identity design and it’s all achieved through these lock-ups and the deployment of Taz over and over. The overall effect of this identity gives the IMA a fresh and almost provocative personality that the old logo simply couldn’t. Ever.