The Daily Heller: It’s a Bird, It’s a Robot, It’s the Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s Green Chicken

Posted inThe Daily Heller

Mascots come and go. These days some very familiar mascots have given way to streamline vestiges of the original and others are altogether decommissioned. I’m still annoyed that Speedy Alka Seltzer fizzed out and, to be frank, I was very fond of Dunkie, the original Dunkin’ Donuts trade character, its/their absence leaves a big hole.

Founded in 1899 as the world’s first children’s museum, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) is New York City’s largest cultural institution designed especially for families, serving over 300,000 kids and caregivers annually. Generations of Brooklynites know BCM by its mascot, a friendly green “robot chicken” with a propeller beak and a crest made of flowers. Originally created in 1977 by Seymour Chwast for a promotional poster, the whimsical illustration evolved into a mnemonic, brandmark and logo for the museum.

Chwast claims the mascot is simply a congenial robot and not a Gallus domesticus (chicken or hen) masquerading as one. He designed the enigmatic faithful fowl (or whatever it is) as the basis for BCM’s institutional identity—and it has been thriving longer than anyone might have expected.

After almost 50 years, Pentagram partner Paula Scher (aka Pollo Scher), who is married to Chwast, was asked to refresh BCM’s brand identity. So, with Chwast’s blessing, the Pentagram team redrew the character to make it more adaptable for a variety of brand needs by imbuing him/her/they with digital dimension and movement.

Whether or not the inspiration was originally a chicken, it is one by consensus and it is currently joined in the pecking order by other birds in an array of pleasing colors, used as sub-brands for BCM’s various programs and initiatives. The basic form stays the same but the individual crests are customized for assorted museum events and activities. The new flock of mascots will be featured on signage and environmental graphics, as well as merchandise, promotional campaigns and social media.

Thanks to Pentagram, this delightful creation has not flown the coop.