Baltimore Museum of Art

Make your mark.

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Their outstanding collection of more than 95,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture.


We won the bid to rebrand the museum in late 2019. After over a year of collaborative work with the BMA’s leadership, staff, and Baltimore-based designer Bruce Willen of Post Typography / Public Mechanics, we launched the BMA’s new brand identity in May 2021.


The brand components—which are being implemented across all of the museum’s print and digital assets—visually articulate the BMA’s commitment to inclusivity, particularly in the way it signifies how the museum’s identity comes from its community. To realize this brand vision, we developed a digital system that allows the public to contribute their own unique marks to the new logo, making it an ever-changing manifestation of its audiences and their engagement with the institution.

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s logo is comprised of marks made by the public. The logo’s two-part structure first positions the museum’s name, Baltimore Museum of Art, beneath a dashed line, communicating that the museum serves as a platform for creativity. The second portion, which is situated above the line, captures the museum’s acronym, BMA, as created by staff, visitors, and collaborators. The overlapping, handwritten marks come to represent a shared experience, open for all.

Bma east lobby

To collect contributions, the BMA has installed iPads in its East Lobby, inviting visitors to submit their handwritten articulations of the letters, “B”, “M”, and “A” through an app developed by James La Marre. These letter marks enter into a repository from which the museum will continuously draw to complete its logo. The number of handwriting marks included in the logo will vary in each application, with some selected for recency and others because they resonate visually with a particular collateral.

In late 2020 the BMA introduced the mark-collecting idea via social media. Above are some of the early contributions which we later translated into the logo’s working design.

Topos BMA Brand Story Assets Colors

To launch the branding process, BMA Chief Innovation Officer Melanie Martin and the Marketing and Experience team spent four months in 2019 interviewing colleagues, trustees, docents, volunteers, museum visitors, Baltimore residents, and tourists to better understand how the museum is perceived.

This led the museum to determine that its work should be guided by and its branding speak to four essential traits: honesty, vibrancy, empathy, and fearlessness.

We leaned into these four essential traits starting with identifying a relational color system that reflects BMA’s personality and honor’s the museum’s process-driven sensibility.

First, to connote honesty, we looked at where the BMA began, with the gift of a work called “Mischief” by William Sergeant Kendall. We calculated the average color value of the work, and the resultant tan hue became the starting point for our institutional color system. From there, we developed a color value for vibrant by fully saturating the honest hue, arriving at an orange-red. Empathetic, a warm purple, is color-analogous to vibrant.

Topos BMA Indigo Static

Finally, for fearless, we chose a color that defies description, a hue somewhere between purple and blue.

Topos BMA Brand Story Assets Logos

Variations on the dashed line logotype platform, designed for brand extensions like the museum’s BMA Lexington Market outpost, the BMA Shop, and BMA Weddings and Events.

Haptic1

We also created a visual interpretation of the BMA’s haptic and collaborative approach to programming and interpretation. “Haptic backgrounds,” serve the utilitarian purpose of providing a base for all manner of collateral, from brochures to stationery to the new website.

Topos BMA Brand Story Assets Icons3

The platform-as-dashed-line, employed within the logo system, carries as brand identity ingredient for iconography, wayfinding, and print collateral.

Stationery

Topos BMA BC Assorments 3

BMA staff submitted their letter markings for general use and for their personal business cards.

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Topoa bma Env 3 B

Social Media

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Visitor Guide

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Membership Brochure

Street Banners

2014 BMA Front03 keystoned
Topoa bma banners flat 4 A
Topoa bma banners flat 4 B