The National Gallery of Art’s Branding System By Michael Gericke and Michael Bierut Is Frame Worthy

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Pentagram partners Michael Gericke and Michael Bierut have created the new stunningly colorful visual identity for The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

The goal of the branding identity was to create a system that would beautifully reflect the vibrant and diverse projects within the gallery's walls. The energy is seen through the thoughtful color pairings and through the one-of-a-kind typographical system that was created as a nod to the incised inscriptions on the side of the gallery’s building.

Each of the colors within the system were chosen to evoke a meaningful impact. For example, "Inspiration Red" was picked to incite excitement and passion, whereas "Imagination Magenta" was selected to encourage originality and inclusion. Choosing hues that make a lasting impact creates a more powerful system overall, and it’s clear that these pairings are purposeful and effective. Let’s be real, who can deny an orange and magenta color combo?

“We sought to create a broad identity for the National Gallery that reaches out to be welcoming, inclusive and is connected the old and the new, the classic and the modern. The new logo is quite contemporary but derived from the essence of the carved letterforms that have been embedded in the facades of the West and East Buildings for decades,” said Gericke of the project.

The typeface was developed specifically for the logo inspired by Empirca, a font designed by Tobias Frere-Jones and Nina Stössinger at Frere-Jones Type. The result is a warm and uplifting look that still radiates a sense of originality. Additionally, the simplicity of Pope's West Building and the modernness of Pei's East Building were used as inspiration when creating the one-of-a-kind "N" letterform throughout the branding system. From a social media icon to an impactful icon on a pin, the typography implemented in the "N" letterform is geometric and straightforward.

Michael Gericke and Michael Bierut designed a gallery far from intimidating; instead, they've created a branding system that's welcoming, universal, and inviting a new lesson to be learned through artistic endeavors.

“With our doors finally open, we re-present to our public how the National Gallery will meet our mission of welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity––with generosity, inclusivity, and joy,” said National Gallery Director Kaywin Feldman of the reimagined visual identity.