The Studio Museum in Harlem today revealed its new graphic identity, custom typeface, and website, heralding the impending opening of the storied institution’s new home on New York’s West 125th Street.
The bold new identity, inspired and influenced by Black culture, reflects the Studio Museum’s mission as a site for the dynamic exchange of ideas about art and society.
Designed in collaboration with the multidisciplinary creative studio Pacific, founded by Elizabeth Karp-Evans and Adam Turnbull, the new Studio Museum brand is multifaceted and drives forward a legacy of graphic innovation.
The new visual identity forefronts typography and a color palette that offers a range of creative options for storytelling across print and digital media. The new brand pillars are defined by the institution’s name: Studio—to be a dedicated space for artists of African descent; Museum—to steward a growing permanent collection, groundbreaking exhibitions, and community partnerships; and Harlem—to remain community-centered and committed to Harlem as a cultural destination.
“…a community-centered institution and globally minded place…”
Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem said, “Just as our building will further enable us to serve our artist community, the dynamic brand and website will allow us to consistently communicate the work and ideas so central to our mission. Collectively, these efforts are rooted in the legacy we have established while strongly defining the Museum going forward, projecting our identity as a community-centered institution and globally minded place ‘Where Black Art Lives.’”
Throughout the decades, the Museum’s graphic identity evolved and responded to the times using print and digital media to enhance narratives about Black culture and to support an ecosystem of artists and art workers. The Studio Museum’s new logo incorporates a custom typeface, Studio Museum Black, and is accessible and scalable for a variety of applications, from small-scale print publications and digital icons to large-scale signage and out-of-home advertising. The stacking of the words creates a figurative stoop, a nod to the vernacular architecture that so clearly defines Harlem, which is also referenced in the design of the Museum’s new building.
The variable font, customized from Pangram Pangram Foundry’s Fragment, was created to be elegant but utilitarian in nature. It is drawn in both roman and italics, with refined serifs and an accessible sans-serif. The weights and italics can coexist to create lively and playful yet sophisticated visual narratives. Playing off the traditional system of naming font weights, in which “black” refers to the heaviest and boldest option, Studio Museum Black is used primarily in a medium weight. The dynamic font also has a striking simplicity, with two styles in three weights, allowing for easy use while demonstrating the range and depth found within the color black.
A bold color palette has been introduced to maintain the visual language of the Museum. Core colors of black, white, and gray directly reference the materiality of the Museum’s new building. The Museum selected 100% black as its primary color. A secondary grayscale color palette extends the dialogue of representation beyond the binary of black and white, allowing for myriad high-contrast pairings and subtle combinations with black. The tertiary palette draws from artwork for additional color—expressing the limitless possibilities of Black art.
“…a digitization effort to make its permanent collection more accessible…”
To complement the Museum’s visual transformation, the new website, designed and developed by Base Design, communicates a reinvigorated institution and serves its expanding digital needs. The Museum took on a digitization effort to make its permanent collection more accessible, and the new studiomuseum.org features close to one thousand works from its growing permanent collection, along with more than one hundred biographies of Black artists represented in the permanent collection and the Museum’s Artist-in-Residence program. Engaging content in the margins of the web pages forges connections that reflect the dynamism and vibrancy of the Harlem community.
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Founded in 1968 by a diverse group of artists, community activists, and philanthropists, the Studio Museum in Harlem is internationally known for its catalytic role in promoting the work of artists of African descent. The Studio Museum is now constructing a new home, at its longtime location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street. The building—the first created expressly for the institution’s program—will enable the Studio Museum to better serve a growing and diverse audience, provide additional educational opportunities for people of all ages, expand its program of world-renowned exhibitions, effectively display its singular collection, and strengthen its trailblazing Artist-in-Residence program.
While the Museum is closed for construction, its groundbreaking exhibitions, thought-provoking conversations, and engaging art-making workshops continue at a variety of partner and satellite locations in Harlem and beyond. For more information, visit studiomuseum.org.
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