The continuity of the species
Lance Wyman's 1975 logo for the National Zoo.
The Smithsonian's National Zoological Park was founded in 1889 and, in the 1970s, was home to nearly 1,800 animals and more than 360 species spread across 163 acres of land in Rock Creek Park, Washington D.C. Prior to 1975, the zoo’s signage system, which employed hundreds of different design styles had become ‘disorganised’ and ‘inconsistent’. The results of an extensive visitor survey further confirmed this issue and precipitated the need for a cohesive system.
The National Endowment for the Arts–and as part of the Federal Design Improvement Programme (FDIP), an initiative to improve all forms of Federal communications through design–hired Robert E. Mulcahy as art director for the Zoo. Working with the New York-based design firm of Wyman and Cannan, Mulcahy set in motion the creation of a new graphics system and visual identity for the Zoo.
Continue reading to see the ‘trailblazer’ pictograms and totem system for guiding visitors and discover the concept behind Wyman’s logo.