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The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s new logo spread across its Twitter page (screenshot via @artsmia/Twitter)

On Monday, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts unveiled its new identity. In addition to a new logo designed by Pentagram, the museum announced a name change: from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (plural) to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (singular), and from MIA, an acronym, to Mia, a … nickname?

Mia is “pronounced Mee-ah,” an institute blog post counsels, before going on to explain:

Over the years, as the museum began using MIA as a shorthand for its formal name, it was clear that the acronym, because of its long association with Missing in Action, was problematic. Mia, on the other hand, means “mine” in Spanish and other languages, and, as the new logo designed by Pentagram demonstrates, readily establishes a complete identity apart from the initials. Mia will now be the common name of the museum …

Yes, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Art now has a common name, one that’s inviting because it also happens to be a woman’s name, as well as a possessive pronoun. Would that all museums were so multifaceted.

Which got us to thinking: what if other museums were to rebrand along similar lines, scrapping their acronyms in favor of names or casual, friendly monikers? Mamma Mia, the possibilities are endless!

  • The Whitney Museum = Whit
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art = Phil
  • The Menil Collection = Men, e.g. “Men has a great collection of Rothkos”
  • Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art = Fred (which, let’s face it, is much easier to handle than FJJMA)
  • Legion of Honor = Leg; de Young = deYo, e.g. “Me say de, me say de, me say deYo!”; the larger body, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco = Fam, e.g. “What was up with all those layoffs at the Fam?”
  • LA MOCA on Grand Avenue = MOCA Grande, presented by Starbucks #brandsynergy (not to be confused with a MASS MoCA, which you can buy at Dunkin’ Donuts)
  • All National Academies = Nats
  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery = Al
  • Art Institute of Chicago = either Artie or Ike (for the attempted pronunciation of “AIC”)
  • Pérez Art Museum Miami = Pam
  • The High Museum of Art = Hi!
  • Hammer Museum = Ham
  • Solomon Guggenheim Museum = Solo, e.g. Han Solo
  • Harvard Art Museums = Harvey, or Harv
  • Detroit Institute of Arts and Dia Art Foundation = Dia, the two merging and effectively making one financially solvent and the other more open and accessible
  • Grey Art Gallery = Gag
  • Milwaukee Art Museum = Mam
  • Walker Art Center = Wally
  • Kimbell Art Museum = Kam
  • Seattle Art Museum = Seat
  • MoMA = Mom, to help curb its perception as a cold and unfeeling corporate art mall
  • The Getty = The Get
  • Mattress Factory = Matt
  • Brooklyn Museum = Brook
  • The Carnegie Museum of Art = Carnie
  • The Yale University Art Gallery = Yag
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art = Ima (pronounced “ee-mah,” which means “mother” in Hebrew)
  • Bennington Museum = Bennie

We look forward to rebrandings all around.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...

4 replies on “What’s in a Museum Rebranding?”

  1. “Miami Miami Miami” They might want to use some strategically placed color on that banner…

  2. Minneapolis has a talented design community, but the museum chose to let interns at Pentagram do their rebranding.

  3. its a shame to see all these big names using pentagram instead of working with smaller designers or firms (how many thousands of us are in NY?). from museums to politicians and anyone else with money backing them they head to the biggest name in design and more often than not, get a lackluster design completed by underpaid designers.

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