Responses by North
Background: When the museum first came to us, the brief was quite simple: to create a visual identity and consider the name to coincide with the opening of the new museum building. The target audience was a 50/50 split of locals and international tourists, with a desire to grow the museum’s appeal to younger visitors.
Reasoning: The museum’s curatorial vision had shifted in recent years to showcase the work of Edvard Munch to a contemporary audience, often juxtaposing other artists and art forms with his work to create new perspectives. This was in stark contrast to most other monographic museums which often become a kind of “mausoleum” for an artist—fixed and unchanging—and a place where you might only need to visit once. So, our creative response needed to facilitate this philosophy and present MUNCH as a dynamic, ever-changing and open institution.
Challenges: From a design perspective, the biggest challenge was to resist any literal visual cues or direct references to Munch’s art. It was a tempting route to take, and it generated some exciting ideas, but from an intellectual point of view, we realized that anything in this area could only be considered as pastiche and potentially even disrespectful to the artist. Instead, we chose to pursue ideas which aimed to evoke Munch’s ethos and complement his work.
Favorite details: In considering the existing name, Munch Museum, research showed that the “museum” aspect was a barrier to younger audiences. Through careful discussion with the museum, we arrived at a newly evolved brand name: the new museum will be known simply as MUNCH. We’re proud to have helped the museum to take this brave position and signal its bold ambitions for the future.
Visual influences: The visual identity is anchored by a custom font that references the new museum building, designed by Spanish architects Estudio Herreros. Respectfully bowing towards the city of Oslo, Estudio Herreros’s design was, in part, inspired by a photograph of Munch in Warnemünde, Germany. Almost naked, he is painting another almost-naked man on the beach and leaning forward inquisitively, just like the building.
Specific demands: North is also responsible for the building’s signage program, which will be installed in advance of the planned museum opening to the public in late 2020. There has been a lengthy period of adapting designs to meet local regulations and accessibility standards, which has certainly made the process more complex, but has also resulted in a wayfinding system which will be optimal for all audiences.