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Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest and most respected museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art – but for years it remained one of San Francisco’s best kept secrets.

AMBITION

Despite being positioned as a geographic and cultural authority on Asian art and culture in the US, the museum still struggled to capture awareness and fully connect with visitors. In 2009, however, they appointed a new director with a ground breaking vision and revitalised ambition to become the world’s most dynamic Asian art and cultural museum.

ACTION

In early 2010, Wolff Olins partnered with the Asian Art Museum to create a new brand strategy and identity. Through extensive interviews and research, we uncovered what visitors needed and how the museum was best placed to deliver. We challenged staff and board members to fundamentally shift their perspective – from thinking of the museum as a home for ancient objects to a thought provoking experience. Using the brand strategy as a foundation, we created a provocative new brand identity for the museum. The new logo, an upside down ‘A’, signifies their commitment to offer a fresh and
creative perspective on a collection spanning 6,000 years. As the mathematical symbol ‘for all,’ the logo also tells the world that the museum has something to say and something to show.

IMPACT

The Asian Art Museum officially debuted the brand identity with the launch of their exhibition Maharaja in October 2011. The brand strategy reinvigorated staff and board members with a renewed sense of purpose. It also helped them begin to transform their visitor experience and rethink the content and design of their exhibitions, programs and communications. In 2013 they set a new record for themselves when the opening weekend attendance at their China’s Terracotta
Warriors exhibit exceeded historical numbers by over 60%. With their 50th anniversary approaching in 2016 the museum shows no signs of slowing down.

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