San Francisco, CA
Client/Owner: Asian Art Museum
Architect: Gae Aulent
Experiential/Wayfinding Graphic Design Concepts:
Youn Choi as Design Director with Selbert Perkins Design
Renderings: Youn Choi
What is now a museum unto itself opened in 1966 as a wing of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park. Its purpose was to house a vast collection of Asian art donated by Chicago industrialist Avery Brundage. By the time of his death in 1975, the Brundage collection was comprised of over 18,000 treasures spanning 6000 years of history.
In 2013, to better accommodate this extraordinary collection, the city moved it to the former San Francisco City Library building and hired the late Italian architect Gae Aulenti to transform the old library into the Asian Art Museum. It is now the largest museum in the United States devoted exclusively to the arts of Asia.
Youn Choi’s experiential graphics and wayfinding program focused on creating an identity for the museum and its site. The challenge was to create an inviting, clear, and contemporary concept that reinforces the museum’s mission and complements its contents while respecting the historic integrity of the old structure. Options she presented included:
• Covering the entire building in a “veil” that can be lifted for the grand opening.
• Representations of familiar, traditional Asian elements, such as foo dog sculptures and paper lanterns, the latter of which would be rendered as lofty, attention-grabbing signage.
• Banners on the building and freestanding.
• Tall, slender signs and wall treatments for café and gift store identity.
• Papier Mache umbrellas.
• Colorful frames and pavement treatments at all entrances.