There are an enormous number of talented designers, both past and present, who contribute to the visual richness found in the exhibits, books, brochures, educational guides, catalogs, websites, and signage at the Smithsonian. Yet despite the public nature of their work, the designers behind what the public sees remain mostly unknown since much of their work is unsigned and unattributed. With enough research, it is usually possible to determine who the designers are; case in point, I was able to figure out who designed the star logo for the National Collection of Fine Arts (now Smithsonian American Art Museum). It would be a wonderful thing if Smithsonian designers were more personally recognized, as their work plays an integral part in how visitors experience the Smithsonian. I do not want to speak for the designers, but perhaps how they think about their work can be conveyed in the following quote from graphic designer Saul Bass:
I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares, as opposed to ugly things. That's my intent.
- Design + Archives: Star Search, The Bigger Picture
- Design + Archives: Posters (Smithsonian American Art Museum), The Bigger Picture
- Record Unit 503: Office of Exhibits Central, Records, 1954-1979, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 551: National Museum of American History, Department of Exhibits, Exhibition Records, 1957-1992, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Accession 15-199: Smithsonian Photographic Services, Exhibition Posters, 1978-2001, 2005, Smithsonian Institution Archives