When it comes to branding large, cultural institutions I imagine it would be difficult to make sweeping changes. The older it is the more baggage it has, though it seems like this hasn’t stopped Sagmeister & Walsh in their effort to create a stunning new identity for the Jewish Museum in New York.
Our goal in rebranding the museum was to connect the historic and contemporary, and engage multiple visitor generations. The new identity system we created is founded on ‘sacred geometry’, an ancient geometric system from which the Star of David was formed. The entire branding system is drawn on this grid, from the word and logo mark, to dozens of patterns, icons, typography, and illustrations. To address photography as part of the system, we built a processing app that turns a photo or webcam stream into a Jewish Museum illustration.
These days when you hear an identity system was “based on a grid” it’s a bunch of nonsensical lines that really don’t mean anything. In this case though (as you can see below) they truly embraced geometric form of the Star of David as their guiding light (I couldn’t resist) to create some really interesting iconography.
It’s also surprising how legible the typography is overall. They’re based on some rather funky grids but in each usage it works pretty much flawlessly. The standout of the whole project though has to be the use of the Yves Klein blue which packs a visual punch like no other color really can. There’s a visual equity to the color that’s already iconic, and when seen in applications like posters or tote bags around New York you’ll start to realize it’s connection to the Jewish Museum.
This is hands down one of my favorite branding projects of the year. It’s fun, it’s fresh, and now I feel like want to visit the museum. You can see the full identity rundown by clicking here.