Founded in 1971, the MIT Museum has the mission to make the innovation and research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology available to all by presenting the best of science, technology, engineering, arts and math. In October 2022, the museum reopened in a new expanded 56,000 square foot location at 314 Main Street in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, with architecture by Howeler + Yoon, exhibition design by Wendy Evans Joseph, and digital media by Blue Cadet. Pentagram designed exhibition graphics for over 25,000 square feet of new galleries, as well as the Museum’s brand identity and signage.
The construction of the new Museum provided the opportunity to create a multifaceted cultural institution that provides different views into MIT in a series of ongoing exhibitions. The gallery sequence forms a continuous spiral, connecting the pedestrian plaza and ground floor lobby to the second and third floor galleries, and culminates with the museum collections. The design by Studio Joseph shifts from curving planes and organic materials such as cork, felt, and wood to perforated metal and scaffolds of rails.
The Museum asked that each of the galleries have their own unique identities and interactive experiences, related to the scientific concepts within. The Pentagram team created nine different graphic approaches, each of which uses the Museum identity as a starting point, but diverge in ways that respond to both the content presented and the exhibition design by Studio Joseph. The strong graphic approach provides a visual coherence that helps tie the galleries together.
These exhibitions range from “Essential MIT,” a survey of the groundbreaking projects that have come out of the experimental culture and collaborative spirit of the MIT community; to “AI: Mind the Gap,” an in-depth look at the promises and misconceptions of AI; and “Gene Cultures,” about advances in genetic technologies. Each show has its own distinct typographic identity, with the type changing to reflect the topic at hand: letterforms come into focus in the logo for “AI: Mind the Gap”; are three-dimensional for “MIT Collects”; and are built out of pieces for “Gene Culture.”
With the new location, the Museum strategically wanted to increase the amount of learning and hands-on spaces. Graphics play a huge role in guiding group and personal interactions with the multitude of artifacts, robots, AI formats, and other materials, as well as visual explanations of the complex scientific and technological concepts. The Pentagram team produced over 600 individual exhibition titles, graphic panels, and object labels to support this effort, and over 30 custom diagrams and infographics accompany the objects on display.