The last time the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building (AIB) was in use, Usher topped the Billboard 100 charts. George W. Bush was president and social media was beginning to blossom on a campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Smithsonian’s second oldest building, the AIB, opened in 1881 as the country’s first U.S. National Museum. Its doors welcomed millions to wonders reaching the far-flung corners of the world –– from Edison’s lightbulb to Apollo rockets.
But the building has been closed since 2004, due to structural concerns…until now.
To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Smithsonian and announce the next chapter of the Arts and Industries Building, a series of future-focused events and exhibits will bring the AIB back to life.
Labeled as “The Future Project,” this dynamic space reimagines the traditional museum as a new destination for the Smithsonian to explore questions around where our species is headed while conveying a thoughtfully optimistic vision for the future.
When the Smithsonian began its plans to reopen the AIB, they tapped Beyond Definition to build an identity for The Future Project. They needed a flexible identity and dual-purpose logo that could stand on its own and serve the needs of both fundraising and promoting the Arts and Industries Building.
Our team developed two versions of The Future Project logo and established a brand identity through clean typography and a strategic color palette. We wanted visitors of the renovated space to feel immersed in a completely new experience, starting with the messaging and narrative displayed in the logo.
Version one, used for fundraising, showcases the Arts and Industries Building’s exterior in an isometric view. The second version, used for promotion, shows the same view with the roof off, revealing the exhibit’s interior space. The resulting identity and logos for the Arts & Industries Building and The Future Project launch the Smithsonian into the future, injecting energy and excitement into the space while amplifying the Smithsonian brand.
The final logos were then used to establish the design for a promotional brochure for The Future Project, drawing on the Smithsonian’s mission to engage and inspire.
Futures is more than fantastical sci-fi, flying cars, robots, and technology. Visitors will explore the past, present, and forthcoming while being pushed to ask “what’s next?”
The reopening kicks off virtually on Friday, November 19, 2021, with “Unexpected Conversations.” Guests include Bill Nye, Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, actor Kal Penn, and spelling bee champion Zaila Avant-garde.
We are incredibly proud to have played a role in the history of the AIB as it launches into a new, exciting phase.
You can learn more about the reopening event here.
Read our full case study on the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building here.