National Gallery of Canada
Representing Canada through Ankosé
As Canada’s preeminent visual arts organization, and comprising the largest collection of contemporary Indigenous art in the world as well as the country’s largest Canadian and European collection of art, The National Gallery of Canada represents Canadian identity on a world stage.
Coinciding with the launch of its strategic plan to address systemic shifts to their institution, the Gallery engaged AREA 17 to transform its brand to reflect the important work it was doing to decolonize the museum, decenter narratives, amplify new voices and reframe art within a broader and more inclusive context.
The new brand needed to reflect the organization’s efforts of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, as well as encompass a more inclusive perspective of Canadian art and culture. Working with national focus groups across the country, and with an advisory council of Indigenous Elders from the nearby First Nations community of Kitigan Zibi, the National Gallery of Canada developed a brand with AREA 17 that incorporated an Algonquin word into the brand.
The word is Ankosé, and it means "Everything is Connected", "Tout est Relié". It means that we are all connected, to each other, to the land, the water, the sky, to art that surrounds us, to the past, present and future. It is a call to action for people to see beyond the frame of the canon, the building, the narratives to see the limitless connections that exist beyond it.
"AREA 17 showed from the very beginning that they understood where the National Gallery was going. They listened deeply, and were willing to shift and incorporate the advice from Algonquin-Anishinaabe Elders to bring the brand to life. They’ve created something that is extremely beautiful, anchored in digital strength through animation and brilliant colour, and tied to the teachings of Elders. We are so grateful to them for helping us ground the institution in a spirit of belonging and reconciliation for years to come.” — Rosemary Thompson, VP Corporate & Public Affairs & Marketing National Gallery of Canada
Like the word Ankosé, the brand is an open system of inclusion, and is ever changing. The entire system is devoted to shifting the organization from the geometry of a square (Western WorldView-Westminster Parliamentary Tradition) to a permeable circle (Indigenous World View and Governance System). The system is made up of the individual shapes of the logo, denoting the multitude of voices, ideas and perspectives that combine, shift, interconnect to create a larger whole.
"This is a strategic platform that walks the walk and demonstrates how this new era of decolonization, amplifying new voices, and being more inclusive can take shape in the context of branding." — Underconsideration