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People think of museums as places to learn about art and the world, but even these nonprofit corporations must brand and market themselves like global businesses with charity logo designs. Because there are a lot of creative minds at a museum, their logos tend to be some of the most innovative and creative on the market. Here are ten museum logos that are winners both in their field and in the world of logos as well.

1. The Smithsonian Logo Design

The Smithsonian Logo Design
The Smithsonian is one of the best known and most comprehensive museums in the United States, and their logo shows this prominence. The museum name is written in a newsy font reminiscent of a headline, adding a factual slant. The logo image itself is a large black circle with a sun created out of negative space. A symbol representing the light of knowledge along with one representing unity is an appropriate logo scheme for this and any museum.

2. The J. Paul Getty Museum Logo Design

The J. Paul Getty Museum Logo Design
The Getty Museum’s logo rejects the inclusive circle used by the Smithsonian and other museums, instead using the straightforward, hard-edged square as the central shape. The surname of the museum’s founder is in a thin, modern font that lends a softer touch to the logo. The off-center placement of the letters is a touch borrowed directly from modern art, making this square logo nonetheless artsy and stylish.

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Logo Design

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Logo Design
This New York City museum has a logo that is a work of art in itself. An ‘M’ is featured in a circle, including all who see it. The circle is the color of a sunset, suggesting the light of knowledge. The M letter was created by Da Vinci for “De divina proportione”, a mathematics book by Luca Pacioli around 1497 in Milan. In all, it’s hard not to see the logo and understand fundamental facts about this museum, making it a clear winner.

4. Seattle Art Museum Logo Design

Seattle Art Museum Logo Design
This Seattle logo also is ultra-modern, although it still has many logo design elements that are recognizable. First, the thin lettering is unassuming, although the capital letters are bold. The logo features the name by which the museum is locally known, SAM, along with the full name written in the same font in a square shape. This square along with the lines drawn through it give the logo an all-business feel. The cool, watery blue is calming enough to offset the plainness of the logo. In all, this logo shows balance, an excellent attribute for a museum.

5. The Exploratorium Logo Design

The Exploratorium Logo Design
This San Francisco museum was among the first to feature exhibits meant to be touched by children and families. However, it has since cultivated a more serious image and added activities that interest adults. The logo shows both the museum’s softer side and its more adult aspirations. The museum’s name is undeniably friendly yet minimalist, with a rounded font in all lower case letters. The ‘O’ is larger than the rest of the logo, adding a friendly touch while enclosing the phrase ‘40th’. This logo is an anniversary special, but it’s safe to assume that next year’s logo will keep the simplicity and straightforwardness.

6. The Louvre Logo Design

The Louvre Logo Design
The Louvre’s logo is timeless in black and white. A photographed image of clouds behind the lettering creates a film noir image while the simple, serifed letters are serious but modern. The clouds are slightly asymmetrical, adding an artistic touch. The message is that this is a serious museum with high aspirations.

7. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Logo Design

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Logo Design
This logo features the familiar square shape, but with a few artistic touches. First, the image is clearly the neck of a guitar, although the way it is oriented to angle away from the viewer implies forward movement. Second, the image is subtly in the shape of a triangle, which is both a shape denoting strength and the shape of one of the museum’s buildings. This logo wins for being appropriate and yet different from almost every museum logo out there.

8. The Hawaii Maritime Center Logo Design

The Hawaii Maritime Center Logo Design
This maritime museum has a logo that shows its main subject while incorporating common symbols as well. The colors are various hues of soothing oceanic blues. The upside down triangles to the right resemble sails, but they also are upside down triangles, a symbol of strength. The waves are both appropriate for the subject and also a symbol of movement and forward thinking. This logo mixes the most common symbols of the ocean in a new and attractive way that is relevant to its audience.

9. Chicago Children’s Museum Logo Design

Chicago Children’s Museum Logo Design
This museum features numerous activities and displays for our youngest art and science lovers. The logo expresses this perfectly. Rather than a calm blue or another adult color, the key color of this children’s logo design is a playful bright orange. The key image is a child’s handprint, showing that this is a hands on center for children.

10. Kennedy Space Center Museum Logo Design

Kennedy Space Center Museum Logo Design
The Kennedy Space Center Museum also has a logo that shows exactly what it does. The logo is in black and white, except for a red, wave-like shape that circles the logo. This creates a shape with the friendliness of the circle along with the movement of a wave like shape. At the end of the wave is a small, red space shuttle, which is appropriate as this museum is special simply because it is one of few where live space shuttle takeoffs can be observed. The font is simple and rounded, but with thick bold letters that connote strength.

As you can see, museum logos tend to be stark in feeling, much like modern art, while others have more explanatory images. The key to both is retaining elements that subtly express the institution’s intentions. These logos have been an integral part of making these museums among the best in the world. Your logo can do the same for your company if it is designed with the same care and attention to detail.

Design Museum Boston Logo Design

Design Museum Boston Logo Design

Why is there a museum dedicated to design? Design, including logo design, clothing design, landscape design and more, is a field that is highly visible in the United States, even ubiquitous. However, this does not detract from the art involved in design. Design can be functional and commercial, but a great deal of artistry and talent are involved. Good designers are born, trained and learn their field over the course of a lifetime. We think that design definitely deserves a museum.

Of course a museum focused on design needs a logo that is a good example of the profession, and the logo for Design Museum Boston does not disappoint and could be included in the top 10 museum logos. It uses the popular mosaic motif, with parts of the mosaic missing at the bottom of the image. Plain letters in rounded lettering without serifs create a friendly and yet professional feeling. Benton Sans is not the most creative font, but it is a good choice when you really want viewers to look at the rest of the logo.

Mosaic designs usually represent many parts coming together to form a whole. This is appropriate for any community organization that is funded by donations and grants, but especially for Design Museum Boston. This museum is not your average tourist spot.

This museum needs a solid brand more than most because it does not have its own facility. Rather, it is “a decentralized network of physical and virtual exhibits” that has exhibits in traditional museums, public parks, and even websites. Because design does not by nature exist in a vacuum, but rather is a part of everyday life, this museum will be a part of everyday life as well.

One of the things that we really love about this logo is that the motif can be used in a variety of ways to create continuity in the brand. For example, as you see in the Donate button from the organization’s  website, arrows and other shapes can be created using the same colors and mosaics, making them a recognizable part of the museum’s identity. This is particularly important because the exhibits will not be grouped in the same space. They need to be group stylistically instead.

We predict that Design Museum Boston will be an enormous success. First, the logo design and visual identity are very good—good enough to make an impression even on the design-loving crowd that this museum’s exhibits will draw. Second, this is an unusual concept that represents design well, but also helps to keep down overhead costs such as rent and electric. Last, design is an important part of our culture. It makes our surroundings and indeed our lives as a whole meaningful and aesthetically pleasing.

In a design oriented world, amateur work stands out more than ever. Is your company’s logo ready to stand beside the many great logos of your competition? Does it represent your company in a meaningful and beautiful way? If not, it may be time to talk to a professional logo designer.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.