Exhibiting a New Identity: The National Museum in Kraków Rebrand



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6 min


24 May, 2023

Established in 1879, Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie, the largest museum in Poland and the main branch of Poland’s National Museum, comprises 21 departments dedicated to different art periods. These include 11 galleries, 2 libraries, and 12 conservation workshops.

The museum’s main building, construction of which began in 1934, was interrupted by World War II and finally completed in 1992. The museum also has ten other locations throughout Krakow.

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With a mission to promote both Polish and global art, particularly the cultural heritage of Krakow, the aim is to showcase national and universal values.

This is achieved through their diverse collection of scientifically, historically, and artistically significant works, reflecting the beliefs of those who appreciate and identify with Polish culture.

Recently, the museum underwent a rebrand led by Podpunkt, a design agency based in Warsaw, Poland.

MNK logo before and after on white background
Credit to Under Consideration

A New, Abstract Logo

Let’s start by looking at the old logo which had quite a clever structure and captured the building’s exterior appearance.

The use of a rectangular shape and narrow columns visually represented the architectural features of the building, creating a strong association between the visual emblem and the physical structure.

This helps convey the identity and characteristics of the building in a recognsable way whilst still keeping things quite simple. Whilst we’re here to talk about the rebrand, I have to say that the previous design was pretty good.

Moving onto the new logo, this takes a more abstract approach with the “MNK” initials and blends all three letters together by having them share serifs and invisible stems.

On one hand it’s great, if you know what the individual letters spell out (Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie), but it could quite easily be misinterpreted as “XXX” without that knowledge.

However, this issue is resolved when the logo is presented alongside the full name, making it less of a concern. Over time, people will associate the initials with Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie, allowing the initials to stand alone.

The execution of the logo is well done, with the 45-degree angled strokes effectively capturing the distinct characteristics of each letter.
MNK shape logo on grey background
Credit to Under Consideration

Creating Cohesion Between Locations

We’ve talked a lot about the new logo and its abstract approach, but aside from being a bit quirky and different, there’s a real purpose behind the updated design.

Since the museum has lots of different branches and collections scattered around the city, it can lead to inconsistencies. For instance, every branch previously had its own complicated name, which weakens the brand and leads to confusion.

Also despite existing in separate locations around Krakow, it’s crucial all of these branches tie back to the master brand.

To achieve a unified system, the design agency, Podpunkt, created the new logo to represent the various buildings or pieces of art found in each branch.

This ties all of the elements together and creates a tight visual identity.

To capture the diversity of the 12 branches of the Museum and its collection, the first serif in the logo is a dynamic, changing form. Each shape is inspired by the art or building of the branch it represents.

One of the problems we encountered during our workshop and strategy phase, was the complicated and inconsistent names of the Museum’s branches. In cooperation with the Museum, we introduced a new system of short, memorable names for the branches, and connected them to the main MNK brand. – Podpunkt Project Page

MNK icons on grey background
Credit to Under Consideration

Introducing A Series of Minimalist Icons

In line with their brand concept of cohesion and connecting various aspects of the museum, the rebranding initiative introduces a new set of icons. These icons serve as sub-brand representations for each department of the museum, creating a cohesive visual framework.

While the icons maintain a minimalist design, they make a strong visual impact and vary depending on the department they represent. Some icons are literal, while others are figurative, emphasising the art or reflecting the architectural features of the buildings in which the art is housed.

These distinctive shapes are employed to symbolise each department, and some of these icons are incorporated into the logo by replacing the initial serif. This approach effectively showcases the different departments visually and provides a glimpse of what visitors can expect to find inside or around them.

Overall, this method of incorporating department-specific icons within the logo is an excellent way to visually communicate the diversity of the museum’s offerings and the unique experiences available to visitors.
MNK advertising banners
Credit to Under Consideration

Intertwining the Logo

The logo harmoniously integrates with the artworks, allowing a significant portion of the image to be visible through its open strokes, creating a sense of spaciousness and breath.

I particularly like the instances where the art interacts directly with the logo, with certain elements appearing in front of it. This adds a captivating visual intrigue to the overall composition.

The logo maintains a balanced approach, allowing the photos to take center stage without overshadowing them. The abstract initials cleverly frame the visuals, drawing more attention to the elements inside.

Consistently, the typography is skillfully applied across various applications. It possesses a distinctive blend of traditional and contemporary aesthetics, striking a visual tone that beautifully balances both sides.

Exhibiting a New Identity: The National Museum in Kraków Rebrand

Overall, this is a rebrand well done.

Whilst using initials can be a little risky for any brand, established or startup, the way this has been executed is very effective.

Also as time progresses, the updated logo design will become a staple in the minds of museum visitors and it will no longer rely on the full brand name.

Applied across collateral this also works very well, as consisting of initials only and being minimalistic allows the photography to take centre stage.

At Canny, we love diving into rebranding projects analysing what worked against what didn’t. We’ve delivered some fantastic rebrands. Just take a look at some examples of our work for inspiration. Get in touch with the team to find out more about how we can help you.

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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