Responses by Stephen Gilmore, creative director and partner, North.
Background: MUNCH is a new museum building in Bjørvika, Norway, Oslo’s burgeoning waterfront arts and culture district. We developed a comprehensive signage and wayfinding system for the museum that spans all front- and back-of-house facilities. The wayfinding system needed to speak to MUNCH’s goals of creating a meeting place for everyone to enjoy and broaden perceptions of what a museum can offer.
Design thinking: Signage is often designed to recede into the fabric of a building. Here, the system is deliberately bold and characterful.
One of the most significant expressions in the museum wayfinding system is its ubiquitous use of the MUNCH red color. Inspired by Edvard Munch’s artwork, the brand color acts as a beacon, drawing visitors to museum information and services. We used strong, solid materials in striking MUNCH red for interior and exterior signage that maintains legibility even from a great distance. This system extends to museum staff and gallery assistants, who are uniformed in the same red.
Challenges: MUNCH, previously known as Munchmuseet (“The Munch Museum” in English), was moving to a new building more than five times larger than its old site. Its offering was also evolving to a substantially more extensive portfolio of programming and events, with longer opening hours, permanent and temporary exhibitions, and additional facilities, such as a restaurant, library and concert hall. The signage system needed to communicate the complexities of this multifaceted offer in both Norwegian and English while remaining flexible enough to extend to future initiatives.
Favorite details: On the building’s facade, we developed a dynamic MUNCH logotype sign large enough to be visible across the fjord. Fully flexible per character, the sign shifts in color throughout the day to suit particular museum events.
Visual influences: The design strategy for the signage program was developed to reflect MUNCH’s brand and visual identity, which we also designed. The signage and brand needed to work together harmoniously and ensure a seamless experience for visitors.
Specific project demands: MUNCH is a remarkable museum, one of the world’s largest dedicated to an individual artist, with 4,500 sq. m. (more than 48,000 sq. ft.) uniquely arranged across thirteen floors. The concept of a “vertical museum” needed careful consideration from a wayfinding perspective to help visitors confidently navigate within this distinctive configuration.