The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a beloved institution—I suppose that’s why some of their recent changes have gotten such a strong reaction. I am certainly one of the museum’s admirers, spending many lovely days there with my artist mother. While I wait to get back there again, I’ll delve in to two controversies that touch on what we do all day at Vector TalentMEDIA: the design of the new Met logo and the word choice of their admissions signs.
First, the logo. The creative director and I joke that I’m always happy with a “wall of words”—who needs pictures? But I find that I have a real attachment to the long-time, ornate M of the Met. The firm that created the new look was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The design featuring conjoined letters grew out of the theme of connection, and the font is meant to be both classical and modern.” Now, please forgive this word person, but I’m with the detractors. If I were editing a document with this logo on it, I would ask if the image was distorted. “Check kerning?” was the first thing I thought when I saw it.
The Times reported that the original logo was based on a woodcut by someone who taught mathematics to Leonardo da Vinci, and the new one suggests the walls of the museum’s Temple of Dendur. This might explain everything about my reaction. The Egyptian temple has never much intrigued me, but I’m fascinated by the thought of da Vinci’s math teacher!
So let the Egyptologists and—I guess at the same time—the modernists enjoy their new logo. We’ll turn our attention to the Met admissions policy. Which sounds more forceful: “suggested” or “recommended”? As part of a legal settlement, the museum will now change its signs back from “recommended” $25 admission to “suggested” $25 admission. The former was considered too misleading—making patrons think they had to pay $25, when the actual policy is that they can pay whatever they like. I’m not sure who came up with the word change, but I don’t see it the same way. I ignore recommendations all the time—book recommendations, movie recommendations, recommended daily allowance of vegetables. But when I was a kid, if my mother ever “suggested” I do anything, I did it! Maybe it’s because I associate the Met with my mother, but I’ll bet if they had docents say in their best mom voice, “I suggest you pay $25,” there would be no confusion anymore.