Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Smithsonian Institution. Office of Public Affairs
Visual Identity Program Records, 1966, 1979-1980, 1985-1995, 1998-2007
This accession consists of materials maintained by Kathryn B. Lindeman, Director of Publications, in regards to the implementation and coordination of the Visual Identity Program and its system of logos at the Smithsonian Institution (SI). Early in 1998, Smithsonian Institution Secretary I. Michael Heyman engaged the design firm of Chermayeff & Geismar in New York City to design a system of logos for the museums, research centers, and administrative offices of the Smithsonian.
In conjunction with designer Ivan Chermayeff, the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) issued a book, "Smithsonian Design Guidelines." These guidelines provided guidance for Smithsonian Institution staff and contractors in the proper usage of the Smithsonian Institution logo. For a copy of these guidelines see Accession 01-079.
The logo consists of the wording "Smithsonian Institution" accompanied by the sunburst. The sunburst has been used in Smithsonian Institution references from its beginnings in the mid-1800s for knowledge, enlightenment, and brightness. In the 1960s, a Smithsonian Institution seal was designed with a sunburst at the center. Chermayeff & Geismar used that sun in the new design. Over the years the various Smithsonian Institution museums, research centers, and units had developed their own logo designs, often including a sunburst, forming a patchwork of logos in use around the Smithsonian Institution with no cohesive visual identity. Secretary Heyman, feeling the strong need to unify the uses of the Smithsonian Institution name and the look of Smithsonian Institution logos, began the Visual Identity Program, which was continued under his successor, Secretary Lawrence M. Small.
Also represented in this accession is David J. Umansky, Director of Communications, who, along with Lindeman, oversaw the Visual Identity Program. Included are memoranda regarding guidance on the use of the Smithsonian Institution logo in stationery and the use of the "Smithsonian Design Guidelines" book; materials related to waivers on the use and implementation of the Smithsonian Institution logo; materials related to violations of the use of the Smithsonian Institution logo; cost and budget information regarding the logo designed by Chermayeff & Geismar, printing costs, and the licensing of the use of the Minion font; materials related to the creation of new podium plaques and badges for Office of Protection Services officers; materials related to the Visual Identity Program website; concept and schematic drawings for signage for various units and museums; information on previously used logos; and other related materials.
Materials include correspondence, memoranda, notes, drawings, reports, guidelines, stationery examples, printing samples, logo presentation materials, meeting minutes, color slides and photographs, and black-and-white transparencies. Some materials are in electronic format.
Restricted for 15 years, until Jan-01-2023; Transferring office; 05/15/2007 memorandum, Toda to Jonas; Contact reference staff for details.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Heyman, Ira Michael, 1930-2011
- Chermayeff, Ivan
- Lindeman, Kathryn B.
- Umansky, David J.
- Small, Lawrence M.
- Smithsonian Institution
- Chermayeff & Geismar
- Chermayeff & Geismar Associates
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
- Floppy disks
- Compact discs
- Color transparencies
- Color photographs
- Black-and-white transparencies
- Electronic records
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 07-147, Smithsonian Institution, Office of Public Affairs, Visual Identity Program Records