Preserving the printed word, digitally: a refreshed brand and a new web presence for The Printing Museum.
- Art Direction
Founded in 1979 to preserve and promote the art of printed communication and its impact on civilization, The Printing Museum mounts rotating exhibitions, educational workshops, and houses an extensive collection of historical artifacts all revolving around ink on paper.
Preservation and evolution are frequently at odds, a conflict which proved particularly acute for The Museum of Printing History (now The Printing Museum). In addition to resolving how to adapt its programming and mission to encompass the evolving digital landscape, the Museum was in need of a visual system which was flexible and easily relatable to screen and ink based technologies.
As the digital age has unfolded and begun to redefine print’s place in the world, The Museum of Printing History likewise struggled with building engagement and placing itself in a world more familiar with the monitor than moveable type. The Museum was beginning to adapt its vision to a more expansive definition of print centered around the ever changing media that enable communication and the dissemination of ideas.
To keep pace with the evolution of the Museum’s mission, the brand strategy needed to accommodate a forward trajectory, but still be inclusive of technologies from the 1400s. A mark was needed which could pay homage to the start of print’s journey and travel through its many iterative forms—past and future living together. We also felt it important that the identity be approachable, inviting, and reinforce the Museum’s vibrancy as an educational institution.
We started by advising a simple name change: The Museum of Printing History became The Printing Museum. Not only was there a natural ease in remembering the simplified name, we also found that much of the community had naturally come to know the organization already as “The Printing Museum.” With the new name, the Museum gained the flexibility to encompass all aspects of its operations, as well as communicate that it was active and shifting with the time, rather than serving as a shrine to the past.
In the quest for a similarly inclusive visual identity, we found our solution in the most humble of communicators, the single dot of ink. With the ability to create complex images when appropriately structured, turn four colors into a rainbow when overlapped, or simply denote the end of a thought, the dot is an anchoring technology in print and screen alike. We used its most basic form as the logo, a simple black circle, and created an adaptive system of colorful patterns using its more advanced form, the halftone screen. Our color palette was a natural extension of this line of thinking. Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and Black—the components of four color process (CMYK) printing—make for an identity which pays homage to its roots and is easily translatable to a variety of print methods.
An ongoing process, The Printing Museum’s new identity is beginning to be implemented through its assets and the impact is already being felt. Workshops offered have begun to frequently fill to capacity and attendance and community engagement have greatly increased. A recently completed web update boosts the Museum’s online profile, adds responsive support for mobile devices, a user-upgradable content management system and built-in functionality to accept donations while an upcoming signage and exterior wall graphics will help guide and engage visitors.