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A Visual Identity that Matches the Vision

Whether inside the four walls of its iconic building or beyond, Carnegie Hall’s mission is to bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience.

In the late 1800s, Andrew Carnegie reinforced his status as a visionary with the acquisition of land along Seventh Avenue between 56th and 57th streets for the creation of his Music Hall. Built in what was then a rural area far beyond where most would travel for cultural events, the Hall opened in 1891 to a packed house and garnered widespread critical acclaim. One newspaper reported, “Tonight, the most beautiful Music Hall in the world was consecrated to the loveliest of the arts. Possession of such a hall is in itself an incentive for culture.” Overnight, Carnegie Hall became an anchor for America’s growing cultural identity and one of the most important stages in the world.

Carnegie Hall has since set the international standard for musical excellence, welcoming artists and audiences from around the world. Established as a nonprofit organization in 1960, the Hall has continuously reaffirmed its commitment to serving diverse audiences, developing groundbreaking education and social impact programs and exciting artistic initiatives that open doors to great music for everyone. The Hall is always aspiring to deepen the impact music can have in a changing world.

 

For me, Carnegie Hall was the Holy Grail, the be-all and end-all of musical life in this country for all performing artists. No other place we played in had its unique history. The whole measure of American musical performance was created at Carnegie Hall.
— Isaac Stern, President, Board of Trustees, 1960–2001

 

Long before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic silenced Carnegie Hall’s stages for the longest closure in its more than 130-year history, the Hall’s staff embarked on an exploration of its visual identity. In the last 15 years, the aspirations and impact of Carnegie Hall’s work have grown and shifted, as has the surrounding world. In 2007, Carnegie Hall launched its first citywide festival with many of the city’s greatest cultural institutions, bringing together performances and events across the broadest cultural spectrum designed to stimulate the curiosity of audiences. In 2013, Carnegie Hall launched the first of three national youth ensembles, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, and continued to expand this program with NYO2 and NYO Jazz, created specifically to convene the nation’s finest young talent to travel the world as youth ambassadors. In 2020, in the wake of COVID-19, Carnegie Hall developed programming that connected artists and viewers at home through free, online programs that combine music and storytelling, including Live with Carnegie Hall and Learn with Carnegie Hall.

The Carnegie Hall of today is much more than a concert hall. And the ways people experience it are vast and varied.

A young person might encounter Carnegie Hall for the first time by attending a concert of any number of genres in one of our three concert halls; or they might participate in a national grantee program like PlayUSA in North Carolina, Alaska, or New Jersey; or they might simply follow us on Instagram. While unforgettable performances and the lifelong memories they create continue to be the signature experience, the need to effectively represent Carnegie Hall in all of these moments has never been more important.

In 2018 with this in mind, Carnegie Hall began to examine how to visually represent its work to further the goal of ensuring music and the Hall itself remain accessible and welcoming across in-person and online experiences alike, inviting discovery and welcoming exploration.

For this work, the Hall partnered with Champions Design, an award-winning New York City–based design agency that has worked on the branding of Dartmouth College, The New York Times, and the National Basketball Association, among others. Champions embarked on a research-grounded process that began with a deep exploration of Carnegie Hall’s history, stories, and people. While considering the many ways the organization has grown in the last 130 years, the team went back to the Hall’s roots, inspired by visual elements that sprang from the landmark building itself.

After more than two years of work, we are excited to share a new visual identity that captures the magical history and visionary spirit of Carnegie Hall in a way that also unifies our diverse programs, is flexible enough to speak to a range of audiences, and is distinctive enough to stand the test of time. While we didn’t anticipate a global pandemic would slow our release of this update, there couldn’t be a more fitting moment to reintroduce Carnegie Hall to the world.

Join us in exploring the stories behind the visuals that make up our new brand. You may find them familiar, while at the same time new. With a renewed sense of spirit, more than a century of experience, and a vision for the possibilities of the future, Carnegie Hall is setting the stage for the next generation of artists and audiences.

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