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I have read and heard and read again how great the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is. I have no doubt that it is, sadly I’ve never been there. What is it about the Walker that makes it so appealing? and what else goes on there? they have a great in house design group, right?

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.24.2002 BY Armin
Eric’s comment is:

re Walker. Yes, their in-house design for posters, catalogues and announcements is far better than most.

In addition, the space is fairly well laid out, many smallish galleries -- Like the phlanges at the Guggenheim. they are also pretty consistant in taking very interesting "small" exhibitions.

Not a lot of room for their permanent collection but you can certainly show-up and always be surprised.

On Oct.24.2002 at 09:38 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

It's a nice place. I'm not sure why it's world reknowned, but maybe that's because locals always take local fixtures for granted.

I like it because of the gift shop. ;o)

As for the in-house design, they're good, but, to be fair, they have a great 'client' to work for.

On Oct.24.2002 at 01:24 PM
Stephen Coles’s comment is:

What makes the Walker appealing to me is their custom typeface by Matthew Carter. A sturdy sans with attachable-detachable serifs of all types, slab and otherwise. Here is an article on the font that appeared in Eye and Texts on Type and what follows is from a review of a Oct. 12, 2001 Carter speech, very similar to the one I heard him give at AIGA Las Vegas in 1999...

The next project Carter discussed was completely different and modern. In the early 1990s, Carter was commissioned by the new art director of the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, Laurie Haycock Makela, to help create a new identity for the institution. The Walker is dedicated to contemporary art and the Avante Garde; therefore Makela felt that a monolithic logo was not the way to go as a logo implies such heavy permanence. And the Walker is more about change. Carter designed a san serif typeface to be used for the center's printed materials and web site. To bring this typeface alive, he designed five serif options (small horizontal elements that are traditionally added to the ends of main strokes of a letterform). These serifs could be "snapped on." One of the serif options was an Egyptian serif, a thick horizontal bar that could now run on top, through, or along the bottom of several characters in succession to create ligatures. And serifs could be added to letters that normally don't wear serifs, such as the letter O.

Carter showed us several slides from the development period of this typeface, including fax correspondences between himself and the typesetters at the Walker. "I'd send them this (fax with straight forward character samples) and I'd get back this from the Walker (fax with wacky anarchistic jumble of letter forms). The Walker saved all of the documentation from the development of the typeface. These materials were shown in a small, modular exhibit in Tokyo. One side of the gallery displayed faxes, memos, and final printed products using the Walker typeface. On the other side of the gallery, Japanese typesetters gave a shot at setting Walker. In one of these settings, the typesetter arranged the letters top to bottom and the words right to left across the page as Japanese text is written. In another example, a typesetter deconstructed Carter's Roman letterforms, taking apart the pieces and putting them back together again into Japanese characters. (See Walker motto).

Only after the completion of the typeface did Carter realize what had influenced it. In the 1970s Carter was using a photo comp machine to set non-roman scripts. Separate pieces had to fall into place to create the character. Voila, snap on serifs.

I'll be visiting the Center very soon, if only to see Carter's flexible type in use.

On Oct.25.2002 at 03:41 AM
Eric Olson’s comment is:

The Carter face is still in use, but only for the events calendar and the official identity. Otherwise, the floor is wide open, usually depending on the designers at the time. Of course this (in my opinion) is what makes the whole thing work. You have to change it up. Have you ever been to the Chicago Museum of Modern Art? Terrrible. The concept of carrying a single typographic treatment through on all exhibitions is hilarious. Of course I'm biased because I used to work at the Walker and they use my typefaces! Maybe I'm not the best person to ask.

On Oct.25.2002 at 08:38 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>Have you ever been to the Chicago Museum of Modern Art? Terrrible. The concept of carrying a single typographic treatment through on all exhibitions is hilarious.

For a museum of modern art, chicago's graphics and lettering are not that great and are kind of lame. But they do work within the context of the buidling, everything so clean and precise. Chicago's museum of modern art in definitely no pioneer in design or typography, but overall it's a great museum to visit.

>In the early 1990s, Carter was commissioned by the new art director of the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, Laurie Haycock Makela.

Lauire being an art director there explains a lot. And my two cents: Carter completely rocks. I met him while I was teaching at Portfolio Center. He reviewed all the typefaces that were being done in my class and gave evrybody advice, he even signed some of the students printouts. He gave one of the best lectures I've ever sat in. Too bad he is not that great of a speaker, kind of monotonous. He still rocks with that pony tail.

On Oct.25.2002 at 09:14 AM