Underline Studio’s identity for McMaster Museum of Art aims to disrupt museological convention
McMaster Museum of Art is a public gallery located within the campus of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada – a prestigious public research institution consistently ranked in the world’s top 100 universities. Its Museum of Art is a meeting space for both the university’s campus and the local community situated within the traditional territories of the Mississauga and Haudenosaunee nations. Through its collections, the museum aims to create inclusive, dynamic and experiential relationships between people and artistic practices; and disrupt the traditional museological narrative.
Aiming to achieve as such through their brand, the museum approached Toronto-based strategic branding and design agency Underline Studio for a revamped brand identity system. Their solution emphasises the ‘M’ of ‘Museum’ within a set of parentheses – making a connection between the symbols’ purpose of showing a remark or passage that departs from the theme and the McMaster Museum of Art’s mission to depart from convention. As well as playing the defining role in the logo, the parentheses expand across posters, banners and stationery to playfully highlight sentences or works of art.
Aiming to capture a combination of character and simplicity, Underline Studio chose Dinamo’s Monument Grotesk as the primary typeface and Pangram Pangram Foundry’s contrasting, spiky serif Migra solely for the parentheses. “We explored many typefaces for the parentheses and Migra gave us the perfect balance to Monument,” Underline Studio’s Creative Director Fidel Peña tells us. The contrast between the typographic pair is subtle, but makes for an idyllic choice that adds just enough personality to the identity to not take away from the artworks it aims to champion.
Much like their 2017 work for Art Museum University of Toronto, Underline Studio’s choice of colour adds an unexpected vibrance to the identity, and aligns perfectly with the museum’s disruptive aims. “We knew bright colours would be needed to give them presence within the University campus and showcase their varied collection,” Peña explains, concluding that they “went through a few iterations before arriving at the final palette” but found it “suits them really well” in the end.