Smithsonian Logo

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
Loading...

Smithsonian LogoSmithsonian Logo PNG

The Smithsonian Institution is a trust instrumentality of the US comprising several museums and research centers.

Meaning and history

Smithsonian Logo history

1894 (Seal)

The original Smithsonian logo created by artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens showcased a globe flanked by torches of knowledge. The torches represented truth and knowledge.

The seal could be found on annual reports and publications. It was used for more than 70 years until the Bicentennial festivities in 1966. The festivities marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of its founding benefactor, James Smithson.

1966

The new symbol was taken from the coat of arms of the founder, James Smithson. In comparison with the original seal, this one was cleaner. It showcased the sun with straight and wavy rays meaning heat and light. In heraldry, this emblem is called “The Sun in His Splendor.”

The words “Smithsonian Institution” either encircled the sun or were written over it.

The new design meant that the symbolic meaning of the logo shifted, too. In both cases, the Smithsonian logo symbolized enlightening. Yet, in comparison with the original torches, the sun is more powerful as it is a source of light that will long outlast any man-made source.

On the one hand, the sun emblem reminded of the Smithsonian’s roots. On the other, it showed that the Institution had the influence that would reach far into the future.

The seal was created at the request of Secretary S. Dillon Ripley.

1998

Smithsonian Logo-1998

In a blog post about the redesign, the institution explained the need for a new logo in the following way: “We wanted a unifying symbol to graphically cement the relationship of our many parts to the whole.” The issue was very important as, back then, almost every organization in the network had its emblem or logo. With the introduction of the 1998 emblem, all the museums, research institutes, and offices had to switch to single brand identity. They, however, were supposed to place their name below that of their parent institution.

The emblem was designed by Ivan Chermayeff from the New York firm Chermayeff & Geismar, Inc.

The sun looked pretty much like in the previous seal. This time, though, the name of the organization was placed below.

The color of the sun was the most obvious one, yellow. The palette of the circle in the background was probably inspired by the sky. Its color was somewhat warmer and darker than the sky in real life.

2018

Smithsonian Logo

At first glance, the design remained unchanged, except that the word “Institution” was dropped. Yet, if you take a closer looked, you will also notice that the blue circle grew larger in comparison with the sun. As a result, now there is more air in the emblem.

The hues appear to have slightly shifted – they are somewhat lighter. The blue is colder, more similar to the natural color of the sky.

In addition to the main logo, there was also an all-blue version. Here, the “sky” was dropped – you could only see a small sun icon. Next to it, there was the lettering “Smithsonian.” It featured the same type as in the primary logo but was blue.

Flag

The centerpiece of the flag is the sun logo. This time, however, it is given in a slightly different palette (the blue is darker). The flag is broken down into four large fields featuring a chequered pattern in dark blue and yellow. The sun in the center is also broken down into four pieces, as is the roundel.

Font

The Smithsonian logo features a simple yet elegant serif type.

Colors

For decades, the palette has included two colors: yellow for the sun and blue for the “sky” background. Yet, the hues have not been the same. Also, the flag features a darker blue than the main logo.