The Met Rebrands, Vitriol Flies in the Design Community

Iconic 'M' Dropped for Typographical Approach

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The design community and museum-goers around the world have been spewing vitriol over a big change to one of New York City's most revered cultural institutions. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently unveiled its new identity overhaul, in which it will be replacing its iconic, Vitruvian-inspired "M" -- its symbol since 1971, with a typographical treatment of the "The Met," as it's commonly referred to by patrons.

The new logo was created out of Wolff Olins and mashes the letters of each word together. It has already appeared in mailers, on a podium during a press announcement, letterhead and signage for the museum's new Breuer building. Wolff Olins is headquartered in the U.K. but also has an office in New York.

New York Mag/Vulture Critic Justin Davidson wrote a scathing piece whose title described the new logo as a "typographical bus crash."

"The whole ensemble looks like a red double-decker bus that has stopped short, shoving the passengers into each other's backs," he said. "Worse, the entire top half of the new logo consists of the word the."

The Independent's Christopher Hooton described it as looking "a lot like the title of a 70s lifestyle magazine."

And Pearlfisher's Karen Schnelwar called it "unbecoming."

This morning, the Met released the following statement explaining the new identity:

"Our new logo no longer relies on symbols and, instead, is based on our commonly used name 'The Met,' which has an immediacy that speaks to all audiences," the statement read. "It is an original drawing, a hybrid that combines and connects serif and sans serif, classical and modern letterforms. In this respect, it reflects the scope of the Museum's collection and the inherent connections that exist within it."

The symbol is meant to illustrate the museum's democratic principles: "Throughout its 146-year history, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has evolved to meet the needs of its audience. An unwavering part of the Museum's mission is to reach and inspire the broadest possible community -- locally, nationally, and internationally. ... Our new look reflects a driving principle of our institution, and was chosen because it represents something simple, bold, and indisputable: The Met is here for everyone."

The logo will appear across all Met locations -- at its main building on Fifth Avenue, the Breuer and the Cloisters, and in new maps, collateral, signage, digital and advertising. It will also be part of a new website with simpler navigation and a "more robust infrastructure." It has yet to appear on the museum's website and on its Twitter account.

What say you, readers? Is the new Met logo destined to go the way of The Gap?

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Feb 19, 2016
Wolff Olins New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art
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