Museum of Arts and Design



Practice Area


Museum of Arts and Design


Project Vision

The Museum of Arts and Design in New York collects and presents contemporary and historic innovations in craft, art, and design. The museum opened its new home at Two Columbus Circle in September 2008. As part of the museum’s relocation, MAD commissioned Pentagram to create static and dynamic interior and exterior signage and wayfinding as well as a suite of interactive interpretive media for the galleries.

Developed in conjunction with MAD’s new identity, the unified media and signage program makes reference to the building’s architecture while reinforcing the museum’s mission to celebrate the creative process. The program puts MAD at the forefront of the use of dynamic and interactive technologies in museum environments.

To create a street and sidewalk presence, drawing visitors into the museum and setting the tone for the media inside, interior and exterior “attractor displays” run horizontally between the building’s ground-floor columns and display information and images from current programming and upcoming exhibitions.

A 14-ft.-high wayfinding totem is an iconic entry feature in the museum’s lobby. The dynamic floor directory reinforces MAD’s new identity while providing visitors with an overview of programming and special events. The totem’s vertical alignment corresponds to the building’s verticality (there are seven publicly accessible floors).

Wayfinding displays on each of the public floors consist of portrait-format screens that continue the wayfinding totem’s vertically oriented dynamic directory system.

Within the galleries, four exhibition interactives, three collection research stations, and a collection interactive provide windows into the museum’s permanent collection. They encourage the exploration of more than 2,200 objects through a relational database that sorts objects into groups or filters them by country of origin, date, and technique.

The collection interactive, a 57-in. display on the third floor, presents a birds-eye view of MAD’s entire collection. An array of objects fills the screen, and objects rearrange themselves as visitors interact with them by selecting a variety of filters and sorts. Zooming in on a specific object reveals primary information. An auto-mode selects objects at random and entices visitors to interact with the piece.

Exhibition interactives are 30-in. flat-screens located on the four gallery floors. They encourage visitors to explore objects on display through a simple yet engaging touch interface. As visitors navigate through the collection of objects, they can discover objects related through technique, form, or by artist; watch educational videos; listen to audio clips; and view still images. Ancillary media, including interviews with artists and technique demonstrations, were specially commissioned for use with the screens.

Project Details
The wayfinding system alone is worth the price of museum admission.
Juror 1
The system is simple and compelling. The hardware integration is excellent and lets the visitor focus on the content, which seems to be orchestrated clearly and in a highly aesthetic way. We look forward to seeing more of that kind of work: content over style.
Juror 2
Design Team

Lisa Strausfeld (creative director/partner, dynamic media); Michael Bierut (creative director/partner, identity and static signage); Christian Marc Schmidt, Christian Swinehart (designers, dynamic media); Kate Wolf (team coordinator, dynamic media); Rion Byrd-Gumus, Kai Salmela (designers, static signage); Joe Marianek (designer, identity)

Design Firm



Shen Milsom & Wilke (A/V consultant), HB Communications (A/V integrator), Sciame (builder), C-nario (software/programming, show control/media distribution system), Rubenstein Technology Group (software/programming, content management system)


Visual Graphic Systems (static signage), RPVisual Solutions (dynamic media)