To reframe art within a broader and more inclusive context, The National Gallery of Canada worked with AREA 17, a brand and digital product agency based in Paris and New York, to remodel its branding system.
AREA 17 worked to ensure the branding encompasses a more inclusive perspective of Canadian art and culture through an open system of inclusion and ever-changing dynamic designs. The result is an identity full of color, engaging graphics, and editorial photos that encapsulate the rich history and culture within the gallery.
As Canada’s preeminent visual arts organization, and comprising the largest collection of contemporary Indigenous art in the world as well as the country’s largest Canadian and European collection of art, The National Gallery of Canada represents Canadian identity on a world stage.
Coinciding with the launch of its strategic plan to address systemic shifts to their institution, the Gallery engaged AREA 17 to transform its brand to reflect the important work it was doing to decolonize the museum, decenter narratives, amplify new voices and reframe art within a broader and more inclusive context.
The new brand needed to reflect the organization’s efforts of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, as well as encompass a more inclusive perspective of Canadian art and culture. Working with national focus groups across the country, and with an advisory council of Indigenous Elders from the nearby First Nations community of Kitigan Zibi, the National Gallery of Canada developed a brand with AREA 17 that incorporated an Algonquin word into the brand.
The word is Ankosé, and it means "Everything is Connected", "Tout est Relié". It means that we are all connected, to each other, to the land, the water, the sky, to art that surrounds us, to the past, present and future. It is a call to action for people to see beyond the frame of the canon, the building, the narratives to see the limitless connections that exist beyond it.
Like the word Ankosé, the brand is an open system of inclusion, and is ever changing. The entire system is devoted to shifting the organization from the geometry of a square (Western WorldView-Westminster Parliamentary Tradition) to a permeable circle (Indigenous World View and Governance System). The system is made up of the individual shapes of the logo, denoting the multitude of voices, ideas and perspectives that combine, shift, interconnect to create a larger whole.