Institute vs. Institvte

Museum History

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Katie Rahn
April 27, 2012

Art Institute logo

Dear Art Institute, Your graphic on your home page has a typo. You are calling yourself the Art “Institvte” of Chicago. It is a pretty huge error. Just thought you would like to know.

This email echoes the most commonly asked question to my department: did you know that your logo is spelled incorrectly? We always reply to the people who ask, but for all of the people out there who didn’t feel compelled to write us, the answer to that question is a definite “yes.” But because we do understand why there might be confusion, we thought we would set the record straight and give you a little background on our logo.

museum facade

Our logo was redesigned by Pentagram in 2008. And while it has a modern sensibility and was created in anticipation of the opening of the Modern Wing in 2009, Pentagram was inspired by the facade on the museum’s original building (see above). If you look at the text above the banners, you’ll notice that the museum’s name is spelled with a Latin “V.” This is a nod to the classical architecture of the building, as the uppercase “U” wasn’t introduced until the 16th century.

detail of museum pediment

Note that this convention extends not only to the museum, but also to the artists’ names that run across the upper border of the facade. If you look at the architrave of the building the next time you’re here, you’ll notice there’s no “U” in sight!

—Katie Rahn

view of modern wing entrance

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