The NCMA’s New Visual Identity

At the North Carolina Museum of Art, we believe in the power of art and how it can connect communities. So, when we set out to update our visual identity as another exciting layer to the reimagining of the People’s Collection, we didn’t have to look very far for inspiration.
Thomas Sayre, Gyre, 1999, three ellipses of concrete, colored with iron oxide, reinforced with steel, and mottled with dirt residue from earth casting,overall length 150 ft. Gift of Artsplosure, City of Raleigh, and various donors

The iconic rings of Gyre by Thomas Sayre visually encapsulate the Museum’s sweeping indoor and outdoor collection and the intersection of art, nature, and people. As a groundbreaking seminal commission in 1999 for the developing Museum Park, Gyre is by the hand of a North Carolina artist with international recognition.

A black sketch on white paper of three continuous loops that look like cursive letter e's on a cross-hatched ground.
A planning sketch by Gyre artist Thomas Sayre from February 26, 1999

Director Valerie Hillings talked with Sayre about his artistic process and the initial sketches of his first public earth-casting sculpture. From these conversations she worked with the graphic design team on a logo that evokes volume, forward motion, and a distinct sense of place. The textured gestural mark calls to mind the act of sketching or painting. These elements come together to represent experiences in both the Park and galleries that extend across the state of North Carolina and buoy us toward the future.

This new identity is the culmination of two years of research by a cross-departmental committee and six months of design conception by Museum graphic designers Christin Hardy, Allison Maslow, and Dave Rainey. They worked to visually communicate three key aspects unique to the NCMA: a one-of-a-kind indoor and outdoor campus experience; a sense of communal ownership inherent to the People’s Collection; and a celebration of North Carolina and its creative community.

Through programs, partnerships, and education initiatives, we bring the People’s Collection to all one hundred counties across North Carolina. We know that many visitors first encounter the NCMA through these off-site experiences, our website or a social media post, in an advertisement, or on a flier. We want these touchpoints to quickly communicate what makes the People’s Collection so special, signaling a sense of welcoming and belonging to all North Carolinians.

Our commitment to being accessible to everyone includes this new visual design. The brand contains hyperlegible typefaces and high-contrast colors for easy readability. These will be used across Museum communications, including the website, printed materials, social media posts, video and audio content, and email marketing. Efforts also include Spanish translations of campus signage, maps, and gallery text; captioned video and audio content; and accessibility icons to alert visitors to accessible areas and resources on campus.

What is the People’s Collection? It is yours.

In addition to creating a new look and feel, we recently refined our Museum mission and vision statements to focus on the ways we support North Carolinians through their state art collection.


The North Carolina Museum of Art stewards and shares the people’s art collection and inspires creativity by connecting our diverse communities to cultural and natural resources.


To be a vital cultural resource for the entire state and a national leader in creating a welcoming experience of belonging and joy

You can dig into our new look in this brand identity overview, which includes a letter from Director Valerie Hillings; dives into the “Museum voice,” mission, and values; and demonstrates the brand’s flexibility across platforms and usages.

Karlie Marlowe
Karlie Marlowe is director of marketing and visitor services at the NCMA.

7 thoughts on “The NCMA’s New Visual Identity”

  1. Love the new brand! I watched the PBS special on Thomas Sayre, his upbringing on the grounds of the Washington Cathedral and ten years living in North Carolina. His concrete circles are inspirational, creative and reflective of major architectural gestures.
    Great idea to link Sayre’s art more closely with NCMA.

  2. Ok, now that the ink is flowing in your pen, where is the new logo?
    This new logo is embarrassing. It does for creativity (and NC!) what trump does for democracy! (Sorry, but nothing says it better in 2022!)

  3. I love the new logo! It distinguishes NCMA from other museums that are limited to a building. Our museum cannot be confined by 4 walls. It boldly spills out onto the beautiful landscape of North Carolina. This logo serves to remind us of how unique our museum really is.

    1. New logo is predictable, but okay- a clear downgrade, but defensible- however the new fit choice makes it look like the design team just set Microsoft Word to default, title case, and hit BOLD. Not iconic, not artistic, and not memorable in the slightest- there are plenty of “accessible” fonts that are beautiful. This isn’t one of them. Go back, or choose another one… please.

  4. Not keen on the graphic image. It looks like bad writing next to the typeset words. A black-and-white image of three of the Gyre’s arcs seen through each other would connect to the artwork better than the loops, which a viewer would not understand without an explanation. The words set in two lines do not need to be justified. The word spaces in the second line are wider and look obvious. Just set them flush left or centered and let “Museum of Art” be shorter than “North Carolina.”

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