• 05.19.10

Meet the New MOCA Logo, Same as the Old MOCA Logo

The Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. has just quietly reverted to a 30-year-old logo which was designed by icons Ivan Chermayeff & Tom Geismar. What’s up with that?

MOCA logo

Museums are great at keeping musty artifacts around, but L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art actually brought a dead icon back to life on Tuesday. Fresh off of the announcement of actor/director/artist Dennis Hopper’s show and the appointment of Jeffrey Deitch as curator, the museum has decided to dig up a 30-year-old logo, designed by Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, who designed identities for NBC, Mobil, PBS, and National Geographic. (So fresh is the decision that the museum’s Web site still hosts the old identity.)


According to AIGA, which awarded the duo a medal in 1979, this could mean all sorts of throwback fun, like these brochures and other collateral from 1984. It’s unusual, to say the least, for a brand to revive a 30-year-old logo, and even then, to use it completely untouched. Don’t get your hopes up, though: Christopher Knight at the Los
Angeles Times
reports that the logo is a “work-in-progress that may
undergo additional alterations.” Let’s hope those alterations are being performed personally by Chermayeff & Geismar themselves; a rep from the firm says they aren’t currently at liberty to discuss the rebranding, but they are “delighted” that MOCA is going to use the logo again.

MOCA logo

Maybe this is dredging up too many Aqua Net-scented, Flock of Seagulls-accompanied memories for some of you (us younger art critics might say it reminds us of the educational toy company products we played with during that time), but I’m loving the fact that MOCA embraced their past in all its ’80s glory. Upon closer investigation the symbols themselves have been bestowed with new meaning: Each character stands for MOCA’s different locations, which were not all around 30 years ago, and the assignment of each building is kind of brilliant. Although does anyone else see this and think…MOCA Grand Avenue is for beginners?


About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.