Nazionale Bologna

A great collection, widely unknown
Inaugurated in 1885, the Pinacoteca Nazionale Bologna (National Gallery of Bologna) offers a vast collection of paintings, including seminal works by Italian masters such as Raphael, Titian and Giotto. Despite its heritage and masterpieces, the museum’s attendance was low, its great collection widely unknown by the citizens of Bologna.

A new vision
The city’s growing tourism and the appointment of a new, visionary superintendent created the conditions for this institution to rethink itself, renew its outdated communications and reclaim its relevance with the local community. Working in a team of five, led by my creative partner Massimo Pastore, I took part in the redesign project.

Adding the B for Bologna
The old PN monogram had been created in the 80s to unify all the National Galleries across the country. By adding the B for Bologna we wanted to emphasise the museum’s geographical and historical uniqueness. The combination of serif and sans-serif terminals represents a metaphorical bridge between ancient and modern world – a world the new PNB wants to inhabit.

The museum’s hidden gems
Pinacoteca means chest for paintings in ancient Greek – this inspired the concept of discovering hidden gems which informed the redesign throughout. The N is partly obscured, turning the PNB monogram into a more abstract graphic device often used to mask the paintings, as if they were seen through a peep hole. The grid showcasing the paintings’ details is also referencing an open chest where jewels are neatly organised.

“In Bologna, I bought the season ticket from the museum keeper. As soon as I have half an hour without visits or without walks, I go up to the gallery, often to see just a single painting – Raphael’s Santa Cecilia, Guido’s Portrait or Domenichino’s Sant’Agnese.”

19th-century French writer