VCU graphic design students re-design the Black History Museum

Samantha Foster

Spectrum Editor

One graphic design class is reaching out to the community this semester by re-designing the Black History Museum and pulling black history out of February.

The class, called “Design Rebels: Socially Conscious Design in Theory and Practice,” is taught by Noah Scalin, who is well-known for his work, “Skull a Day.”

Design Rebels focuses on community action by creating a single, large-scale project. Previous semester projects have included work with homeless shelters and public middle and high schools.

“We spent the first part of the semester doing a lot of readings and discussions on ethical issues (that) often dealt with design,” said Hunter Graham, a graphic design major and student in Design Rebels. “(During) the second part of the class, we developed a project to complete ourselves.”

In addition to their project, Design Rebels will be hosting a discussion on black history on Dec. 3 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Sweet Mo Mini’s, located at 902 West Broad Street. The event is open to all members of the community, including VCU students and Richmond locals, and hopes to open the discussion of the importance of black history to American history as a whole.

“We are hosting this event to help pull black history out of February,” Graham said. “It is something relevant to us everyday. We live in such a diverse community, the struggle, the resilience, the story is important to everyone. We are our history.”

Students in the class pitched their ideas for projects mid-way through the semester. The Black History Museum was ultimately decided upon because of their importance to the community and their lack of a strong brand.

“The Black History Museum was chosen because of the need. There is no need to rebrand the VMFA or the Science Museum. We wanted to make the Black History Museum as recognizable as those,” Graham said. “The Black History Museum doesn’t receive the attention it deserves and a lot of the reason why is because they do not really have a strong brand. There is not really an image for this museum outside of the museum walls.”

The Black History Museum was also chosen as the main project by Design Rebels because of its importance to Richmond and the importance of black history to Richmond.

“Richmond is so richly rooted in black history. Richmond was basically one of the points in the triangle that made up the slave trade. Jackson Ward prospered as a black community creating all kinds of amazing American people,” Graham said. “We wanted to help show that.”

The current logo for the Black History Museum is a drawing of the museum entrance and columns. Next year, the Black History Museum will be moving from their current location to the Richmond Armory, so their current logo will no longer be applicable after their move.

“Our whole goal with the project was to give them an image to help the museum stand and be recognized in the city and all over the state,” Graham said.  

In addition to a new logo, Design Rebels also created pieces for the museum to help draw the community into the museum.

“We are really excited about everything we have created. We still have not done a final proposal, but we are all really hopeful that the museum will pick up and implement the brand we have designed,” Graham said.

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