February 1, 2019

National Museum of Iceland Rebrand

National Museum of Iceland Rebrand

I’m working on a project with my interns that helps them build their writing skills. Here’s the second one, by Natalia: a recap on the new Museum of Iceland rebrand.


The National Museum of Iceland, located in the capital city of Reykjavík, is devoted to highlighting the country’s culture and history. Before it got its own building in 1950, the museum was housed in different attics across the city. Since its establishment, the museum was renovated in the 1990s, and now features permanent collection on Iceland’s history, and iconic contemporary works. Now, thanks to a new identity designed by Jonsson & Lemacks and Siggi Odds, the National Museum of Iceland has a new look.

If one looks at the previous logo and compares it to the new logo, there doesn’t seem to be much change. The only real change seems to be the logo type and the simplified color palette. However, if you look further than the logo, it can be seen that the museum now has a fully implemented, and through identity. The museum’s new identity heavily relies on typography, but not in the way you might expect. The National Museum of Iceland finds great success in “utilizing a custom headline typeface which includes 4 historical typefaces. The typefaces are inspiring glimpses from Iceland’s cultural heritage: Fuþark runes, used from the 9th century; Fraktur or calligraphic lettering, used in our famous manuscripts and sagas from the 12th century; Höfðaletur (Head letters), a carved ornamental lettering from the 16th century, and sans serif typography, used in printing and digital techniques from the 19th century to the modern day.”   

Iceland is proud of its heritage, and the museum’s new identity doesn’t shy away from relics of the past. Aside from the custom typefaces, the new color palette was determined based on manuscript pigments. The style of photography mixed with the new identity combines together and elevates the art pieces in to a modern time, almost editorial.  

What do other people think? There’s mostly good reactions, considering that instead of doing a complete new look, the designers chose to improve on what was already there. Emunah Winer points out, “Amazing what switching to a single color can do to that icon. It shows restraint of the designer to not overhaul it completely…”, while Colouryum states that “I really want to like this. The only thing is I feel I would have cleaned the lines on the icon to tie it in with the sharpness and boldness of the colour and text. To me it feels a bit out of place being the only rough edged element.” 

My opinion, you ask? I like the the identity, but can’t help but agree that the texture of the icon starts to pull apart from the very clean typefaces. The design team had the opportunity to include the distressed textures from their source materials, and saw that it would hinder having such variety in a cohesive system. Seeing as the logo is the only place where a texture is seen across platforms, it seems more like an oversight than intentional. Regardless, I’m excited to see the ways the National Museum of Iceland continues expanding its new visual identity. Should I ever get the opportunity to visit, you already know I’m getting one of those new tote bags.

Source: Under Consideration

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