Australian National Maritime Museum

one of Australia’s
best loved

The background


The Australian National Maritime Museum is Australia’s national centre for maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology, located in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. In a drastically changing landscape, potent competition, decreasing funding and heightened visitor expectations, the Australian National Maritime Museum was at risk of becoming anachronistic in this new experience economy.

Against this backdrop of declining support in public funding, glitzy attractions along the harbour front were increasing, thanks to a major redevelopment of Darling Harbour. The museum had to take action to survive or it would sink.

Our thinking


To take the museum from cliched relic to dynamic modern museum, we worked closely with its staff, visitors and stakeholders to create a brand strategy, narrative and identity that redefined its value proposition and signalled its role in connecting us to the sea.

A series of workshops and interviews with people from all parts of the museum from the Chairman to the Head of Catering (over 450 people in total), unlocked the critical insight that visitors want an experience that connected them to the adventures of the sea not a detached lesson in maritime history.

A key insight from our research was that visitors want immersive experiences, not passive history lessons. This led to the brand idea of ‘The Spirit of Adventure’, where the museum would embrace a more dynamic position and engaging experience.

“Our museum lies within the country’s busiest tourist precinct, receiving more than 25 million visits a year, and is also the Australian Government’s most visible cultural institution in Sydney. The unveiling of this bold, new direction inspired by the sea marks the next phase of our revitalisation.”

Kevin Sumpton
Director and CEO
Australian National Maritime Museum

The creative


The name and creative was about putting the sea and our connection to it at the heart of the brand. Our research revealed that the previous name was acting as a barrier to entry, as it felt very institutional and the word ‘maritime’ was largely misunderstood.

To get to the core of what this place is all about and bring the strategy to life, we developed the name “Mu-SEA-um” to act as a more familiar and colloquial way of referring to the institution, making it more friendly and approachable, and reinforcing the connection to the sea.

The vibrant colour palette, fluid logotype, photography and playful illustrations create an impactful identity that brings the brand idea to life across exhibitions, content, programming, digital and service. The unveiling of this bold, new direction inspired by the sea marks the next phase of the museum’s revitalisation.



“We’ve experienced a stratospherically bumper summer on the back of the new brand launch and our exhibition strategy. 82% up year-on-year, which is pretty epic for January – our peak month.”

Jackson Pellow
Manager Brand & Marketing
Australian National Maritime Museum



Best Overall Brand Identity – 2020 ANZ Transform Awards

Gold – ANZ Transform Awards
Category: Best Visual Identity from the Public Sector

Gold – ANZ Transform Awards
Category: Best Brand Evolution

Winner – 2020 Good Design Awards
Category: Communication/Branding & Identity

Distinction – 2019 AGDA Awards
Category: Identity/Branding (Large Business)

Merit – 2019 AGDA Awards
Category: Identity/Logos & Trademarks

Bronze – 2019 Best Design Awards
Category: Large Brand Identity/Cultural


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