As the fifth largest museum in North America, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the collections displayed within are world-renowned. The expansive museum space was recently transformed when celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind's addition, aptly named the Crystal, was opened this summer.
An important objective of the redesign of the ROM has been to create a wondrous and delightful visitors' experience. Understanding that signage is an important component of this experience, the ROM enlisted the services of the renowned design firm, Gottschalk+Ash International to develop a wayfinding system that would contribute to this objective.
G+A's solution was to create an environmental design program that is functional and clear, yet maintaining an elegance that would contribute to the unique architecture of the ROM. Two key issues were at the forefront.
The first was to link very separate and distinct architectural styles. Design director, Udo Schliemann solved this by introducing glass as the primary material. Intuitively, Schliemann understood that glass is a material that is elegant and forgiving and would blend well with the many backgrounds of the museum. His choice was also influenced by the already existing presence of glass in the architecture of the ROM (such as the casings), adding consistency to the result. The outcome is a system that aesthetically fits perfectly within two styles.
The second issue was to develop a system that was comprehensive enough to provide for wide ranging needs, yet simple enough to offset the intricate floor plan of the museum. By abstracting the floor plan, G+A was able to simplify its complexity. A straight line has been created as a path; thus, offering visitors a clear and simple way to navigate. Inspiration came from the functional subway map. Galleries have replaced subway stations and this simple path now allows visitors to easily identify where they are and where they need to go.
These solutions, along with a sophisticated treatment of graphic elements, colour, typography and iconic imagery offer a signage system that has the perfect balance of functionality and elegance and that truly enhances and reflects the essence of this magnificent museum. G+A was able to link the two very separate styles of the ROM through a wayfinding system that is both functional and elegant, reflecting the very essence of the museum while enhancing the visitor experience, comments William Thorsell Chief Executive Officer of the ROM.