The Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) is a leader among academic museums, cultivating inquiry and reflection by connecting people to art, ideas and each other. Approaching its centennial anniversary and armed with a new strategic plan, the Museum was poised to take its work to the next level — to be more welcoming, relevant and widely accessible as it continues to foster engagement, support the college’s academic goals, and deepen its reach across and beyond the campus. In order to fully realize this potential, SCMA engaged Minelli to create a new brand and new visual and verbal tools.
The museum’s home is Smith College and was established because early College leaders believed that students should be familiar with the art of their time. The museum has evolved as the college and the world evolved while remaining dedicated to scholarship, discovery, creativity, critical thought and an inclusive, equitable and accessible community. The culture is one of digging deep, speaking out and taking action.
Minelli led a deep discovery process that included reviewing the museum’s strategic planning reports, interviews with stakeholders, a survey of members, students, visitors and alumni, and an intercept survey at the museum. We listened carefully and synthesized what we heard to uncover the core themes that inform the brand strategy. The discovery process uncovered several creative tensions that inform all aspects of the museum.
The brand idea states boldly that SCMA is “where art and ideas collide.” Central to the brand are the tensions that define the museum’s dual roles of an academic art museum and a leading cultural resource. The brand idea celebrating the friction, energy, and spark created when academic rigor and creative curiosity are both present. These and other ethos statements reflect the organization and are used on institutional brochures, the website and fundraising materials.
The design intent, informed by the brand idea, is open, accessible, savvy, inclusive and dynamic. The new Smith College Museum of Art logo visualizes the dynamism of the brand. The creative tensions are represented by a slash that cuts through the letters, creating two parts that meet at the ‘edge’ to create a dynamic whole. Strong and declarative, the logo sits boldly on printed and digital media, often creating tension with the edge of an image or boundary of the page.
SCMA, the acronym of Smith College Museum of Art, is a widely used shorthand for the museum. The new logo elevates the acronym to create a strong and memorable mark that reflects the museum’s dynamic brand.
A centennial logo and ‘art meets next’ tagline are used with the brand tools to celebrate the anniversary and vision for the future.