Tacoma Art Museum

A rebrand with new color, materials and typography ties together a museum’s existing modernist building with an expansive new wing.
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma, Washington
Principal: Kristine Matthews
Project Lead: Cassie Klingler
Designers: Frances Nelson, Beth Grim
Architect: Olson Kundig
Fabricator: Berry Signs
William Wright, Max Cleary + Katy Lester
Branding, Donor Recognition, Wayfinding

Tacoma Art Museum almost doubled their exhibition space with a new wing of contemporary Native Art, and commissioned us to create new signage and wayfinding inside and out. Our material palette references both the original building–Antoine Predock’s modernist silver box–and the new wing by Olson Kundig, clad in deep brown Richlite, an industrial material fabricated locally.

As our signage and wayfinding concepts came together, we were also awarded the opportunity to rebrand the Museum. The iconic “TAM red” remains, and surfaces as a pop of color throughout the scheme. A suite of logos provide the Museum with greater flexibility and includes “Tacoma Art Museum” along with “TAM,” the nickname that the community has long bestowed on this cultural landmark.

“Studio Matthews brought an elegant and experienced eye to the communications and signage project. We greatly appreciated their creativity as well as personal engagement with the project. Their sensitivity to cost and future maintenance were an added bonus.”
—Stephanie Stebich, Museum Director

SEGD Jury Comments:

“It’s hard to not like the bold simplicity of TAM’s wayfinding and identity. Go ahead. Try to dislike this thing and see where it gets you. No really, go for it. Give up yet? Yes, I thought so. Big, bold, stenciled letters and tastefully placed messaging and signage win again.”

“The wayfinding, font design, and signage design at TAM do a wonderful job of complementing the modern aesthetic of the building. There are an elegant harmony and consistency across all components. This defines the space and allows, when appropriate in the case of promotional moments, to highlight the artwork.”

Core77 Design Awards 2015, Professional Notable Award
SEGD Global Design Awards 2017, Merit Award
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