Our visual identity for the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art was built out of a process of community engagement, collaboration with MIMA’s staff, and research into the local area. It began as our response to MIMA’s idea of the “useful museum”, informed by John Ruskin’s notions of learning through making and thinking through doing.
One important element was involving the local community in all aspects of the gallery’s operations, while visits to local sites provided certain cues. We used paint colours that we found splattered on the Tees Transporter Bridge as the palette for MIMA’s new brand, and fabricated exhibition furniture from perforated steel to acknowledge the industry’s historical importance to the area.
Over the course of the year, we were regular visitors to MIMA and ran workshops with both the team there and the general public. We invited participants to reflect on the relationship between art and society, and on their expectations of the museum. Their poetic and insightful responses – formatted using creative systems and methods of typography design instigated by us – formed two evolving exhibitions entitled ‘Where Are We Now’ and ‘Print Room’.
We created the brand communally and developed an expanding architecture comprising a new School of Art and Design, a Café and the Museum. We are now in the process of developing a new website with e-commerce facilities, an archive and comprehensive online collection display.