At the 1941 dedication ceremony for the original West Building of the National Gallery of Art, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke about the relationship between the American people and art:
“A few generations ago, the people of this country were taught . . . to believe that art was something foreign to America and to themselves—something imported from another continent and from an age which was not theirs—something they had no part in.”
Roosevelt went on to say that Americans have discovered that they do have a part. But we know that our nation’s relationship to art was destined to change many times over through global war, the civil rights movement, and other identity-shaking experiences of subsequent generations. Recent events have made it clear that all too many Americans remain marginalized from art and from a great many other things in this country.
As we reopen the West Building to the public tomorrow after months of closure, we rededicate ourselves to realizing President Roosevelt’s hope: that the people of this country will know that art is “not a treasure in the past or an importation from another country, but part of the present life of all the living and creating peoples.”
And to signal our renewed purpose and help us celebrate the joy of our mission of public service, I am delighted to introduce our reimagined brand identity.
The emphasis on National in our new logo reflects our renewed commitment to serve as the nation’s art museum.
Our new color palette represents the institution we aspire to be: energetic, vibrant, and diverse.
President Roosevelt also said that “it is the act of making and not the act of owning which is art,” and in a real and tangible way, every visitor to the National Gallery will help in our making. By interacting with our collections, programs, and scholarship, by making new stories and taking fresh inspiration back into the world, our public will help shape our change and growth.
The lights are turning on in our galleries! We welcome you to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity. We the people belong here, at the museum of the nation and for all the people.