The British Museum has one of the world’s largest collections, displaying over 50,000 artefacts in an exhibition area of over 75,000 square metres. In 2006 the museum undertook a massive upgrade to all maps, wayfinding and signage systems.
As part of this, I was commissioned to look specifically at the museum’s pictograms, with two key considerations in mind. They had to work together as a whole, so that when they appeared next to one another that they looked harmonious and part of the same family. They also needed to work at vastly different sizes. From only about 12mm on the printed map to a quarter of a metre high on signage.
To achieve this I paid particular attention to the negative spaces around each pictogram. I optically adjusted the amount of black in each pictogram to maintain an even tone across them all. I also made a Python script that measured the percentage of black to white in each pictogram.
The final set of 42 were made into a typeface so that all the different staff and contractors could apply the pictograms using the same borders, spacing and clear space. The name of this typeface is called Sloane after the architect of the original building.