National Gallery of Art

How does an 87-year-old institution step into its next chapter?

Audience DefinitionBrand NarrativeExperience StrategyOpportunity RoadmappingSegmentationVerbal Identity

New leadership charged with opening the doors wider to invite the Nation in.

Under new leadership emerged a new vision: Of the Nation, For All The People. It aimed to make the Gallery more approachable, forward-thinking; a hub for national creativity. As discussions on equity, justice, and inclusivity grew, so did the vision’s urgency. It sparked key questions about the Gallery’s role and potential.

But its formality—minimal context, subdued tone—appealed more to seasoned visitors than the wider public. Widening access, engaging the nation, and becoming a must-visit destination became crucial.

Sparked by three driving insights:

  • Visits need shape to feel meaningful.
  • You can’t have awe without hospitality.
  • Art can’t always speak 
for itself.
A New Voice

We created a new voice for the Gallery inspired by inquisitive interviewers who crack their subjects open, extract intimate stories, and lead audiences down a path of discovery.

It became present in every expression, written and spoken, on-campus and off, from wall texts and guided tours to publications and social posts. 

New experience principles

We defined new experience principles to help the Gallery live up to its new role, and conceived a number of new program concepts to build into the visitor experience.

And tools to deploy them

We developed trainings + tools for teams across the Gallery to spark inspiration, embrace new ways of working, and bring the role, voice, and experience principles into their work.


Chart-topping visitor numbers.

With the implementation of this work, along with other key shifts, The National Gallery of Art drew 3.3 million visitors in 2022—the most of any art museum in the United States—for the first time since 2008.

This increase has coincided with new programming, content, and storytelling, as well as the shift to the more conversational tone of The Curious Host which brings to life the Gallery’s new role to host conversation between art and the public.