Rijksmuseum van Oudheden — A podium for antiquity

Located in Leiden, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) is the Netherlands’ national museum of antiquity, with collections of international importance encompassing the Classical era, ancient Egypt, the near east, and the early history of the Netherlands. Eager to modernise, broaden its appeal (75% of visitors in recent years have been senior citizens) and capitalise on the increasing number of tourists visiting Leiden, the RMO asked Studio Dumbar to develop its new visual identity.

We positioned the museum as “a podium for antiquity”, but also “a window on the future”. It was important for the new identity to appeal to new visitors without alienating the existing audience: bringing the two worlds together. After all, the RMO isn’t simply a museum full of artifacts, but a portal providing a unique opportunity to find out who we are and where we come from – to learn vital lessons from our past.

The new identity allows the museum to tell relatively complex stories in a clear, simple manner. The new logo references the RMO’s Egyptian collection, with hieroglyphic initials set vertically in a cartouche – a framing device used exclusively by Pharaohs. A modern typeface recalls the monolithic authority of stone carvings, while gradient colours suggest the elusive quality of historical narratives: the mists of time. The visual language created for promotional material celebrates individual artifacts – as well as their original geographical context – whilst framing them in a theatrical, contemporary manner.

Launched in 2018 to coincide with the museum’s 200th anniversary, the identity has been successfully implemented, with clear guidelines ensuring consistency across a range of media, from the website to printed collateral and beyond.