The logo has two parts. The left side shows an illustration of a detail of the museum building in white, set against a red background. The acronym VNFMA, also in white, is next to the museum. Beneath the museum illustration are the words "Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. The right side shows the same illustration and acronym in red, set against a white background. The name of the museum in Vietnamese — Bao Tang My Thuat Viet Nam — is just below.
David Pierce, assistant professor of art and art history, is helping lead the rebranding effort at the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum. His work includes the redesign of the museum's logo and other visual elements

When the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum decided to refresh the way it presents itself to the public, it tapped David Pierce, assistant professor of art and art history, to help lead the project. This designer, painter, filmmaker and animator spent the summer in Hanoi to begin working with the museum to develop a new logo, signage, brochures and other materials.

The Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum in Hanoi is one of its nation’s premier cultural institutions, home of a beautiful and distinguished collection of artworks and objects from every era of Vietnamese history.

Now the 57-year-old museum is refreshing the way it represents itself—and it has hired David Pierce, assistant professor of art and art history at Adelphi, to help lead the process.

“I am consulting with them on creating a new brand guideline book and brand identity,” Pierce said.

Pierce spent this past summer in Hanoi working directly with the museum’s director of communications and staff members to develop designs for a new logo, signage, floor map, brochure and gift packaging.

New signage puts a smile on an imposing building

Housed in an 86-year-old colonial structure built as a boarding school for the daughters of French officials, the museum blends in with government buildings in its neighborhood. One

The design for the new brochure. It includes a photograph of the exterior of the museum, seen on a sunny day; a portrait of a young girl from the museum's collection; a map of the museum, with small photographs of highlights of the collection; and the words "Vietnam Fine Arts Museum."

A design for the new museum brochure.

of Pierce’s first tasks was to help it stand out by designing colorful banners to hang on the building’s facade.

“They’re like the banners you see when you walk by MoMA [Museum of Modern Art] in New York City on any given day,” he said. “They keep the museum from looking like an office building. The banners make it look like a welcoming place you want to come to.”

He is also revising the museum’s red and gray palette, adding a range of playful colors to make everything from signs to gift shop tote bags feel more modern and lively.

“Red is the national color of Vietnam, so we kept that as the primary color,” he said. “But since color plays a massive role in communicating identity and mood, we’ll be adding colors like oranges and greens. The new branding will say, ‘This is a vibrant place where you can bring your family, or you can just wander in and feel welcome.’ ”

Pierce isn’t stopping there. He’s adding a second font to the museum’s style book to give signage and brochures a more contemporary appearance, and he’s proposed incorporating a pattern from the museum building’s traditional Vietnamese woodwork as a visual motif for use on signs, tote bags and the institution’s website. He is also redesigning the floor maps inside the museum to make it easier for visitors to find their way through the rambling building.

Pierce returned to the United States at the end of the summer and is continuing to work with the staff on many of the details. He will return to Hanoi to complete the project.

A history with Vietnam

Pierce’s stay in Vietnam this past summer was hardly his first. He had been there many times during his three years teaching graphic design in

The artist is seen from behind, sitting at a table. We cannot see his face. The white walls are filled with his paintings and drawings, including abstract works and images of military helmets set against flat backgrounds of color. The room is lit by a fluorescent overhead light. There are paint marks are on the gray floor. Art materials sit on a cart and low tables. A roll of bubble wrap and a floor lamp are against the wall, and a whirring box fan sits on an old wooden chair.

The artist in his studio.

Hong Kong. A friend who works as a translator for the museum learned of the institution’s desire to redesign its signage and introduced Pierce to the museum’s director of design.

“I went to Hanoi to visit the museum and say hello,” Pierce said. “We sat down and started talking design. Then the conversation led to collaboration and this partnership grew from there.”

Pierce’s work with the museum is just one of his many projects. A designer, painter, filmmaker and animator, he has exhibited in Taiwan, Thailand, England, Italy and Israel, as well as extensively in galleries in New York City. His films, most recently the animated short Plausible Audio, have been selected for numerous festivals.

He is very satisfied with his collaboration with the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum.

“It’s been an amazing project,” he said, “and I’m excited that it’s going to help bring even more people into this gorgeous old building to see the incredible stuff the museum is doing.”

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