Civic and urban improvement and innovation by design
Project case study: Queens Museum of Art visual identity and way-finding
The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) is a much-loved, local and international New York cultural institution off the beaten path in Flushing Meadows, Queens. It’s a hub in the most diverse neighborhood in the United States, where over 30 languages are spoken. QMA’s landmark building, home to the UN’s first General Assembly and the 1964 World’s Fair New York Pavilion, is now undergoing a capital-funded architectural renovation and expansion, by Grimshaw Architects and the New York Department of Design and Construction.
To match the building’s facelift, and to raise awareness of the museum’s local, national and international influence and raise attendance from a variety of audiences, the Museum asked Constellation (The Map Office, Alex Lin and Turnstone Consulting) to envision a new visual identity that represents your organization now and next, on everything from business cards, a web site to a block-long façade of the building.
Turnstone’s role and response
As design researcher, Turnstone had the task at the project outset to frame a brand strategy for the museum. This, in turn, would inform a creative brief that the graphic designers could respond to.
Through interviews and small group discussions with over 30 stakeholders associated with the museum, Turnstone gathered experiences and opinions from senior and operations staff, educators, curators, new New Yorkers, parents of children attending workshops, benefactors and artists in residence. A standout interview was with the Principal of the Island Academy, the educational facility at Rikers Island jail; he sends his staff to QMA for art therapy each year.
With a 360˚ understanding of the museum’s operations, and value to its many constituents in the arts, education and local community life, we were able to synthesize the input we’d received and come up with a brand architecture: A vocabulary to describe what the institution stood for, and where it’s going – something meaningful now and aspirational (and still relevant and attainable) for its renovated, expanded future.
When we presented the strategy, the museum’s senior staff said we’d “nailed it”. The creative brief has informed at least the first phase of the design response: planning and executing environmental way-finding signage for the museum’s surroundings with the project architects.