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April 4, 2007

Museum Naming Lessons Hit Close To Home

A recent blog post about the Portland Art Museum entitled “The great disappearing logo mystery” gives a professional’s view on PAM’s old logo and its new image. Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives does not like it at all, stating that the design is “trying to be too clever for its own good.”

blog-omotives-PAMnew.jpgI thought it was interesting to note just how seriously museums need to be regarding logo and name development, given that the general public is their client. PAM's failed effort cost thousands and is apparently due to be scrapped, at what promises to be a significant additional cost. Dealing with these challenges is one of the chief responsibilities of Brian Ferriso, who was recently named director of the museum.

Toronto, which just announced plans for a new cultural history museum, should take careful note. That museum does not yet have a name but according to The Star, it might be called the “Global City Museum,” a name that might unfortunately remove the focus from Toronto's history.

In February, the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia said it plans on dropping the word “Confederacy” from its name, garnering some jokes about what the new name should be. One blogger suggested the new name be “The Museum of That Group of States That Seceded From The Union The Name of Which Escapes Me at the Moment.”

Today, a Washington Post article profiles the flagging museum and its competition with the much better named (and far more lucrative) American Civil War Center. The name “confederacy” is indeed too fraught with negative emotion, I suppose, and, even worse, a lost cause. This may indeed be one museum where the name is damaging its image.

henry.jpgA few days ago, Paul Schmelzer at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis took a lighter note on museum naming, suggesting that one man decided to pay “in the six figures” for naming rights to four bathrooms in the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.

Schmelzer noted that naming rights to the bathrooms at the Walker went for “three figures” to the former director, Kathy Halbreich, who choose to name them eponymously, after her son Henry. Much more reasonable, I'd say.

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Posted by William Lozito at April 4, 2007 9:19 AM
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