Your exhibition logo design is most likely the first point of contact your audience will have to a new exhibition. It could be seen it on a poster, an ad in a community paper, or on the title wall in your space. So it’s important that the exhibition’s logo design is clear no matter how it is viewed and that it communicates the tone of the show. In my last blog, I gave my 3 Step Process for How to Design a Museum Exhibition Logo. Following this simple process can be a tool to keep focused and create interesting and appropriate exhibition graphic design.
Step 1: Research
What is the exhibition about? What tone should it set?
Who is the exhibition for?
What’s the ultimate goal of the exhibition?
Is there any precedent?
What time period is the content or subject from?
What framing elements will need to be included?
Step 2: Design
Step 3: Collaboration
In January of 2019, I began a design exercise of creating an exhibition logo, or title wall design, for 27 different shows. To create each exhibition logo, I followed the basic steps outlined in my process: research the exhibition, define a tone, establish an overall shape, refine type, and add visual elements when appropriate. Below you will see all 27 exhibition logos and reflections on my experience completing this logo challenge.
Title Wall Challenge: Parameters
I set a limit of 1 hour to work on each exhibition logo: 15 minutes of research, 30 minutes of sketching, and 15 minutes of computer rendering. These were somewhat flexible, but I did my best to adhere to the time limit. The exercise was to stretch some creative muscles, not create final logos, so I didn’t want to overthink or overwork any of the marks.
Because research is such an important part of my process when designing exhibition logos, I wanted to work with real exhibitions so that I could dive deep into readily available content. Each title in my challenge was taken from a real life exhibition that was a past recipient of the Excellence in Exhibition Awards by the American Alliance of Museums. I read each exhibition’s press release and looked for supplemental research from news articles. I purposefully did not explore the marketing for each exhibition as I wanted to keep a clear head and not replicate what had already been done by the hosting institution.
When working on my designs, I did not make many color decisions in order to focus on the shape and text of the logo.
Title Wall Challenge: Experience
For the most part, I was able to follow the steps in my process. I was limited in knowing details specific to target audience and what each exhibition’s space would look like. I was also not able to have that important collaboration stage with others familiar with the content.
In researching each exhibition logo, I identified three words that would inform design choices. This was most useful for defining tone; i.e. play, connection, somber, legacy.
Examples from the exhibition logos seen above:
National Geographic Sacred Journeys – exploration | pilgrimages | sacred
The Science Behind Pixar – lighting | technical | animated
Broken? Fix It! – making | utilize | play
State of the Art – road trip | discovery | connection
Title Wall Challenge: Reflections
My goal in this logo challenge was to try new things and explore new techniques. Knowing that I would ultimately present all 27 exhibition logos together, I wanted each one to be unique. There are some logos I love and some I feel need more work. Having an ongoing creative brief that I could dive into and have fun with was an energy boost to my creativity. I was able to try new skills, learn about new fonts, and work with a variety of tones and styles.
More than anything, I loved learning about each museum’s brand and mission and the incredible work happening all over North America.
This simple Title Wall Challenge was the best way to start the new year, and I’m so proud of each little exhibition logo that was made. Branding is more than a logo, though, so my next step is to take my favorite marks from this logo challenge and expand what it could look like throughout an exhibition’s graphic design. Stay tuned!
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Exhibitions and Institutions included in the Title Wall Challenge:
1. Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration – Eastern State Penitentiary, Currently on view
2. Altered State: Marijuana in California – Oakland Museum of California
3. Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road – The Getty Museum
4. The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe – Asian Art Museum
5. William Conner House – Conner Prairie, Currently on view
6. Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People – San Diego Natural History Museum
7. Girls Writing the World: A Library ReImagined – Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Currently on view
8. Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations – National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian, On view through 2021
9. Coast to Cactus in Southern California – San Diego Natural History Museum, Currently on view
10. National Geographic Sacred Journeys – Children’s Museum, Indianapolis
11. Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio – Denver Art Museum
12. The Science Behind Pixar – Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Currently on view
13. Living Seashore – National Aquarium, Currently on view
14. Object Project – The National Museum of American History, Currently on view
15. Pacific Worlds – Oakland Museum of California
16. Broken? Fix It! – Long Island Children’s Museum
17. The Wonder Sound – The New Children’s Museum, Currently on view
18. State of the Art – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
19. Your Brain – The Franklin Institute, Currently on view
20. Our Living Languages – Royal BC Museum, Currently on view
21. Dear Boston - The Office of the City Clerk Archives and Records Management Division (Boston City Archives)
22. The Big Graph - Eastern State Penitentiary, Currently on view
23. FreePort – Peabody Essex Museum
24. Design for the Modern Child – Philadelphia Museum of Art
25. Jungle Trails – Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Currently on view
26. Shop Life – Tenement Museum, Currently on view
27. Nature Lab – Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County, Currently on view
Full list of recipients : Excellence in Exhibition Awards by the American Alliance of Museums