The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Thursday, May 6, 2021


The Baltimore Museum of Art launches new brand identity
New logo to features visitor and collaborator contributions, embracing the museum’s role within its community.



BALTIMORE, MD.- The Baltimore Museum of Art today unveiled its new brand identity, developed in collaboration with the agency Topos Graphics + Post Typography. The brand components—which are being implemented across all of the museum’s print and digital assets—visually articulate the BMA’s commitment to inclusivity, particularly in the way it signifies how the museum’s identity comes from its community. To realize this brand vision, the BMA has developed a digital system that allows the public to contribute their own unique marks to the new logo, making it an ever-changing manifestation of its audiences and their engagement with the institution. The last significant change to the BMA’s visual identity was in 2005.

To launch the branding process, BMA Chief Innovation Officer Melanie Martin and the Marketing and Experience team spent four months in 2019 interviewing colleagues, trustees, docents, volunteers, museum visitors, Baltimore residents, and tourists to better understand how the museum is perceived. The team conducted conversations at and around the museum as well as at its branch location at Lexington Market and other high-traffic locations in Baltimore such as the Inner Harbor and Penn Station. The team gleaned information about what compels people to see art and visit the museum, the artistic encounters they most vividly recall, and any moments of challenge or pain that they may have experienced at the museum. This led the museum to determine that its work should be guided by and its branding speak to four essential traits: honesty, vibrancy, empathy, and fearlessness.




The effort also solidified the BMA’s vision to create a logo that actively embraces its community, resulting in a two-part structure developed by the design team comprised of Topos Graphics and Baltimore-based designer Bruce Willen. The first part positions the museum’s name, Baltimore Museum of Art, beneath a dashed line, communicating that the museum serves as a platform for creativity. The second portion, which is situated above the line, captures the museum’s acronym, BMA, as created by staff, visitors, and collaborators. To collect contributions, the BMA has installed iPads in its East Lobby, inviting visitors to submit their handwritten articulations of the letters, “B”, “M”, and “A” through an app. These letter marks will be entered into a repository from which the museum will continuously draw to complete its logo. The number of handwriting marks included in the logo will vary in each application, with some selected for recency and others because they resonate visually with a particular collateral. BMA staff have already submitted their letter markings for general use and for their business cards, and visitors will soon be able to design postcards with their marks and print them at the museum.

In determining this logo approach, Martin said, “We all make marks. We doodle, we sketch, and we write—and like the best art, these marks we make uniquely visualize our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Museums have a mandate to welcome their communities and respond to their needs. We like to think of this approach to a logo as a promise to do exactly that. With each mark, we respond and evolve just a little bit. We are committed to being a platform for creativity, to evolving with and because of our community.”

As part of the rebrand, the BMA also worked with Topos Graphics and Bruce Willen to establish new color and typography systems. All of these elements are envisioned to articulate the BMA’s essential traits. The website content management system was created by Aaron Buckner, an independent web applications developer.

The designers at Topos Graphics said, “One of the most inspiring early moments came when visiting the BMA’s 2020 Vision exhibition. The artworks on display were honest, empathetic, vibrant, fearless—the traits we came to understand as central to the museum. We sensed a clarity of the BMA’s vision and took note of the works’ roots in process and tactility. This experience, combined with fruitful exchanges with the BMA’s staff and community, informed our work tremendously and led to our process-oriented design results.”










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