The Art Gallery of NSW
Reframing a cultural icon for the future
Established in 1871, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) is one of Australia’s most iconic art museums. Located in Sydney’s Domain with views across the harbour, the Gallery’s varied collection includes colonial and 19th century Australian works, European old masters, dedicated galleries celebrating the arts of Asia and a major collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
A new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA is set to open in 2022, doubling the Gallery’s size. This most significant development, and the AGNSW’s 150th anniversary in 2021, initiated a refresh of its visual identity. Mucho was selected from a list of distinguished local and international studios to partner with the Gallery’s in-house design team on the project.
A layered identity
Inspired by AGNSW’s rich layers of history, the new visual identity aligns with a revised vision and purpose repositioning the Gallery as a key contributor to the cultural life of Sydney and Australia. The logo is central to a flexible and accessible system that reflects the dynamic institution and its increasingly broad range of audiences. Composed of three open-frames, the symbol evolves the existing logo’s square form, and references architectural features of the Gallery’s existing and future buildings. A distinctive ultramarine blue is the brand’s primary colour, taking inspiration from iconic paintings of Sydney Harbour by renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley.
A key requirement of the brief was to rationalise and simplify the Gallery’s fragmented brand architecture. The sub-brand system applies a singular approach by utilising strict type and colour palettes, reinforcing the master-brand across all Gallery collateral.
A custom typeface named in honour of Australian modernist painter and printmaker Margaret Preston provides a unique tone of voice for the brand. Developed with type designer Vincent Chan from Matter of Sorts, it draws on research into the history of Australian graphic design by Chan and Mucho creative director Dominic Hofstede. Preston’s extended character set includes support for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The family strikes a balance between neutrality and personality, providing the Gallery with a broad typographic character.
A collaborative process
From the design development phase onwards, we worked closely with the Gallery’s talented internal design team to refine our initial concept proposal. The system’s flexibility was rigorously tested by the Creative Studio across myriad applications including corporate marketing, publishing, activations, communications, digital and exhibition campaigns (the examples shown below were the result of this collaborative methodology). An identity for the 150th year was also designed as the scope of the project expanded. Motion design studio Gimmewings was commissioned to create a set of principles and guidelines for the ever-increasing volume of videos and animations required by AGNSW.