Fifth Avenue-53rd Street
MTA Arts & Design and Museum of Modern Art
The Subway: Design for a Modern Icon, 2020
Vinyl panels on downtown platform wall
The Subway: Design for a Modern Icon celebrates the historic connection between MTA and MoMA, two of New York’s most iconic institutions, and the way in which graphic design links the museum and the transit system. Panels along the downtown platform at 53rd Street station present a dynamic visual display highlighting the distinctive graphic design used within the subway system, created by Unimark International in the 1970s, headed by designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. The display includes quotations, an illustrated timeline, and pages from the “New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual” that unified the system and is still in use today with internationally recognizable signage. Also prominently displayed are details from the famous 1972 subway map of various intersections of lines in all five boroughs that highlight the beauty of both the aesthetic and civic design of the subway system. This exhibit, designed by MoMA’s Graphics department and curators from the Architecture & Design department, illustrates a fascinating history to riders who navigate the MTA system each day, and those who use the subway to reach the Museum.
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