London galleries take top honours at IMCA awards

Two London-based arts institutions triumphed to take home top accolades for their design prowess at the inaugural International Museum Communication Awards, which aim to assess creative excellence in the museums and galleries industry.

The result was an impressive coup for the UK, since only eight winners were chosen from a total of 83 projects in the competition, with 60 participants from 37 cities and 20 countries.

One of the winning UK bodies was the Southbank Centre, which took home a special award in the Integration Category for its Wolff Olins-designed corporate identity. The other was the National Portrait Gallery, which scooped the golden award in the Exhibition Campaign category for its campaign for the exhibition Face of Fashion, by Thomas Manss and Company.

Contenders were competing in four categories: Corporate Design, Exhibition Campaign, Integration and Innovation. Awards were given after deliberations by a grand jury which was chaired by Damien Whitmore, director of public affairs at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Judges described the National Portrait Gallery’s campaign as ‘very well executed, with high impact and strong stand-out’. The jury was particularly impressed by its ‘elegance, strong use of typography and arresting use of images’.

In the same category, the silver award went to Kunst vzw in Ostend, Belgium for its campaign for the 2006 Beaufort Shore Hosts Art’s Show, by consultancy D’Artagnan, while the bronze award was won by the Max Planck Institute of History of Science in Berlin, Germany for its campaign for the Albert Einstein Ingenieur des Universums exhibition by Iglhaut & Partner and Regelindis Westphal Grafik.

The Corporate Design category golden award was won by Mudam in Luxembourg for its opening campaign Can’t Wait by Ott & Stein, Oliver Peters, Jean-Christophe Massinon and Mudam Luxembourg. Rotterdam 2007 City of Architecture scooped the silver award for its campaign by Dutch design collaborative 75 B, while the bronze went to Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France for its visual identity 2001-2006 by M/M Paris. Typically Parisian in style, the identity was described by the jury as ‘Chic, sexy and very French, this identity is a lesson in refinement, simplicity and playfulness.’

The Southbank Centre identity by Wolff Olins won the special award in the Integration Category for a ‘strong corporate identity, which has been professionally and successfully managed across all materials’. According to the judges it was ‘arresting, playful, provocative and distinctly urban’.

The second special award, the Innovation Category, went to Museums Quartier Vienna, Austria for its MQ Man campaign by Buro X Design GmbH.

Corinne Estrada, director of communications consultancy Agenda in Paris and Raoul Thill, director of Bizart, a design consultancy in Luxembourg, decided in August 2006 to pool their European expertise to create IMCA.

The first IMCAs for art institutions, museums and galleries aimed to assess creative excellence in the museum industry as well as encourage arts organisations to find original and inventive ways to communicate. Other nominees from the UK included the Royal Academy of Arts along with Hoop Design, Tate and Wolff Olins and Tyne & Wear Museums, Newcastle, plus its in-house design team and Sumo Design.

Following their inaugural success, the awards will be held again in 2009 and they are set to become an annual event.

The imca awards

• The first IMCAs took place on 29 November at Indigo Studios in Brussels

• Speakers included Marie-Hélène Beharel and Laurent Daubach from Luxembourg visual communications group Bizart, printer Nicolas Buck from Luxembourg and Geoff Linsell of Moving Brands, London

• UK members of the Grand Jury included its president Damien Whitmore, director of public affairs at the Victoria & Albert Museum; Emily King, a writer and curator specialising in graphic design and design editor of Frieze magazine; and artist Boz Temple-Morris

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