Wolff Olins on its new Met logo

The new identity for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which combines serif and sans-serif typeforms, is revealed in full.

By Angus Montgomery on February 20, 2016

Wolff Olins has revealed its full identity system for New York’s Metropolitan Musuem of Art, which combines serif and sans serif fonts and it describes as “a deliberate move to incorporate both classical and modern ideas”.

The identity was revealed earlier this week by New York magazine, which only published one image of the new logo – a typographic wordmark saying “The Met”.

Wolff Olins has now revealed more imagery of the new identity, which is set to launch in full on 1 March.

“Open and accessible”

The consultancy says the new identity is the result of a two-and-a-half year collaboration between Wolff Olins and a cross-disciplinery team at the Met, which included the museum’s head of design Susan Sellers.

The consultancy says: “Audience research revealed that while The Met’s incredible breadth and depth, spanning over 5,000 years of art across cultures, is a huge asset, it is also a challenge — many people feel overwhelmed and find it hard to navigate.

“Together, the team developed a strategy focused on making the Museum more open and accessible to users, and more coherent as a holistic experience across the soon-to-be three locations (The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer, opening March 18) and online.”

Wolff Olins says this research revealed a set of principles which became the starting point for the design process.

The consultancy says: “We agreed that the visual identity system should be made up of elements that would combine contrasting characteristics of The Met — bold and elegant, modern and classical, accessible and wise.”

The design team says a decision was made early on in the process to lead with the museum’s “common use” name of The Met, and that this would then be used in the museum’s new logo.

Combining serif and sans-serif

Wolff Olins says of the new logo: “The mark is a unique drawing inspired by the idea of making ‘connections’ — helping users connect ideas across time and culture, across the collection, between themselves and the art they interact with.

“The letterforms are connected together in bespoke ways and combine both serif and sans-serif letterforms — a deliberate move to incorporate both classical and modern ideas, a nod to the fact that The Met spans 5,000 years of art.”

The consultancy says it chose red as a key colour for the new identity because “it embodies passion and vitality, and has done across time and culture.”

“Looking to the past and the future”

Wolff Olins adds: “The result is a crafted mark that looks to the past and to the future, or any place in between.”

For the photography and illustration in the new identity, the consultancy says it wanted to move away from “static and formal composition:, adding “instead, the emphasis is on the everyday role the museum can play in people’s lives.”

The Met says of its new identity: ““There may be debate about the logo, because it involves change, but the museum chose it because it represents something simple, bold, and indisputable: The Met is here for everyone.”

The new identity will replace an existing logo which is understood to have been in use since 1971 and is based on a letter M which was adapted from the 16th century book De Divina Proportione, by Luca Pacioli, an associate of Leonardo da Vinci.