Bruce Mau Design

From Urban to Contemplative Sound

MoMA: From Urban to Contemplative Sound

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is widely considered to be the greatest modern art museum in the world. In the early 2000s, the museum underwent a major renovation and expansion designed by Yoshio Taniguchi.

BMD was invited to reconsider the brand identity that would revitalize the museum’s image, but maintain and respect its distinctive brand. We ultimately decided to make only minor updates to the MoMA identity. Based on the refreshed identity, we developed a cohesive wayfinding and signage system.

We decided to treat the signage system as a metaphor for sound, and developed typography that would scale from a street level, "full urban" sound to a contemplative, quiet sound. As the system extends further and further from the street, the visuals become more subtle and hushed so that by the time one enters the galleries, the typography is almost silent, allowing the visitor to experience the artwork without distraction. This experience reflects the MoMA's mission to provide a space for art and thought, despite its being located in the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world.

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We decided to treat the signage system as a metaphor for sound, and developed typography that would scale from a street level, "full urban" sound to a contemplative, quiet sound.