27.9.2011 Wolff Olins

Asian Art Museum Launches New Brand for Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum, one of the City of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection, announced today that it is reinventing itself with a new brand to engage a broader audience. The brand aims to deliver on the museum’s new artistic vision to spark connections across cultures and through time, making Asian art and culture more relevant and meaningful for all.   “The Asian Art Museum is a portal to worlds of unbound imagination, creativity and beauty. We explore these themes in a global context and invite all to discover their connections to Asian art and culture,” said Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum, also officially known as the Asian Art Museum — Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture. “Our new brand promises to awaken the past and inspire the next. It means we’ll unlock the past for visitors and bring it to life by sparking connections. We’ll also be a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.”   “The point of emphasizing these connections,” said Xu, “is to deliver stimulating, sometimes unexpected art experiences that entice visitors to discover more, and to view art from different perspectives.” Contemporary expressions will play a large role in two of the museum’s upcoming exhibitions, Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts, opening October 21, and Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, opening in spring 2012. Maharaja is the first exhibition to comprehensively explore the rich culture of India’s great kings and their artistic patronage. It features 200 spectacular works of art including elaborate jewelry, ornate weaponry, royal costumes, and exquisite paintings. For a contemporary perspective, the Asian Art Museum is partnering with local Bay Area artist and Pixar animator Sanjay Patel. Maharaja inspired Patel, who has published three books featuring his vibrant illustrations of Hindu deities, to create his own joyful and striking interpretations, which will be displayed inside the museum as well as in exhibition promotional material. This commissioning of contemporary works to add a new dimension to a primarily historical art exhibition is a first for the museum. Phantoms of Asia will feature a pan-Asian collection of contemporary works and will be shown in tandem with historic works from the museum’s collection to spark imaginations beyond space and time.   International brand consultancy Wolff Olins helped to redefine the brand and designed a new logo to directly reflect the museum’s bold vision and new perspective. Its graphic, upside down A mark, accompanied by the word “Asian,” also communicates the museum’s desire to engage all: in mathematics, an upside down A denotes “for all.” “We were attracted by the museum’s ambitious vision and desire to build a brand to unlock the potential of its vast collection and thought leadership. Beyond visual expression, the new brand will transform the visitor experience over time to create new ways of connecting the collection and the community, ultimately leading to more visitors and support for its vision,” said Nick O’Flaherty, Strategy Director at Wolff Olins.   The launch of the museum’s new brand is well-timed. The Asian Art Museum, which successfully restructured its long-term debt earlier this year, is on sound financial footing and eager to expand its reach and impact. Moreover, the growing global influence of Asia makes the museum’s mission — to lead a diverse, global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture — ever more relevant. “More than half of the world lives in Asia,” said Xu. “Here in San Francisco, one-third of the population identify themselves as Asian. Opening our minds and hearts to the arts and cultures of this part of the world is an important step in better understanding the people, politics and influences that drive this vast, dynamic region of diverse cultures.” “We’re on a life-long journey to raise the bar in delivering stimulating, relevant and inspiring experiences,” added Xu. “There are many stories to tell, important artworks to reveal, and new ideas to be developed and shared. We’re ready to lead the discussion.”