The Box logoWe’re sure you’ve probably seen that the new name for our pioneering £37 million cultural centre is out there.  Yes, we are now ‘The Box, Plymouth’ with our strapline: Where the Greatest Explorer is You.

A symbol for Plymouth’s current regeneration, and a museum for the future, our new name and matching brand has been selected as a result of research and collaboration with a number of local and national focus groups, as well as ongoing joint working with the city museum and art gallery’s staff, funders and volunteers.

In collaboration with the world’s leading arts design, marketing and advertising agency, Dewynters, our centre’s leadership team has selected the name ‘The Box’ alongside a striking new logo, which will also been revealed across the hoardings at the building site on North Hill.  The strapline ‘Where the Greatest Explorer is You’ will also be used across initial communications, as will the term ‘Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives’ to reflect the consolidation of the venues which will be managed by The Box team.

Our Interim Chief Executive, Paul Brookes, said: “Finding the right name is a major challenge, however ‘The Box’ fits us perfectly in so many ways. The central feature of our daring, contemporary architecture is already known as ‘The Box in the sky’ and is the strong concrete box, the dramatic cantilevered archive in the sky, designed by architect Ben Aston, which will house the archives and precious collections from around the city.

In addition, the initial concept for the history centre was based on a modern-day take on a cabinet of curiosities, revealing what’s hidden within, whilst provoking thinking that is out of the box.

Mr Brookes continued: “So, our dual mission of loving our past, whilst stepping into the future is at play here. Plus our team is currently working furiously behind the scenes, co-ordinating tens of thousands of individual boxes, packing the varied collections, which will be housed within The Box for its official opening in 2020. Like our architecture, ‘The Box’ as our title is a strong, brave, contemporary move, and we are delighted to see that it is causing much debate as people hear it, and get used to it.  This is exactly what we expected. ”

Artist impression of the Mammoth gallery in the Plymouth History Centre - set to open in spring 2020Councillor Ian Bowyer, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “The name ‘The Box’ symbolises the pioneering spirit of our exciting new contemporary museum. This is an absolutely transformational project, creating a place and experience that will encourage engagement and understanding through sharing its vast and diverse collections and archives. Alongside this, The Box will see some of best of contemporary art come to Plymouth. What’s on at The Box is going to be a question that not only Plymouth residents will ask, but regional day-trippers as well as national and international visitors.”

Dewynters, the marketing and design agency for the arts and live entertainment, has worked on branding projects for national and international organisations including the Royal Academy, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and the British Film Institute. Dewynters led the creation and development of The Box brand.

Specimen box brand developmentJames Charrington, CEO of Dewynters, said: “This has been an intriguing process for all involved, and we have had an extremely passionate response from all of the focus groups.  The project started with over 70 naming options, and by a clear process of elimination, brought that down to five. ‘The Box’ emerged as the definite favourite, for a number of emotive and strategic reasons.  The logo was designed to reflect the exciting new proposition in Plymouth, and is based on the structure of a specimen box with the different typefaces representing the individual collections coming together under one roof.’”

Funding for The Box has been secured from a range of significant partners including Plymouth City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, the Coastal Communities Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the University of Plymouth and the Wolfson Foundation. The Box is a partnership led by Plymouth City Council with the University of Plymouth, the South West Film and Television Archive, the South West Image Bank and the National Museums of the Royal Navy.

The main question that everyone has been asking is what were the other 69 potential names, and how did you make the decision?  Here’s some of that background.

Types of name

Suggestions for a name were numerous, over 70 were received from stakeholders, staff, focus groups and the public.

Names of other cultural projects, nationally and internationally, tend to fall into one of these 6 categories:

  1. Location: e.g. Riverside, Southbank, M Shed – in our case we have considered North Hill, Tavistock Place, PL4, etc.
  2. Architecture: e.g. Louvre, Curve, Shard, Gherkin – in our case we have considered The Light, Lightbox, The Box, etc.
  3. Word association: e.g. Eden, The House – in our case we have considered Guzz Box, Mammoth Plymouth, Compass, The Case, The Muse, etc.
  4. Benefactor or Collection: e.g. Tate, Ashmolean, Whitworth, Hayward – in our case we have considered The Cottonian
  5. Acronyms (though they often are known first by the longer version): e.g. V&A, ICA, RAMM – in our case we have considered HEART, MAP, MAPP, etc.
  6. Description: e.g. York Art Gallery, Museum of Liverpool – in our case Plymouth Museum, Museum of Plymouth, Plymouth Museum and Contemporary Arts Centre, etc.

In discussing the long-list, variants of 5 names emerged:

  • Light, Light House, The Light
  • Ark, Arc, or ARCA (which is a variant of both Ark and of Box, as it means “strong box” in Latin and Spanish and is the origin of the word “archives” and could also be an acronym, eg. Archives Research Contemporary Arts)
  • The Box, Lightbox
  • MAP, MAPP, MAAP, HEART (acronyms)
  • Plymouth Museum, Museum of Plymouth, Plymouth Museum and Contemporary Arts Centre

Rationale for the name

There are a number of reasons why The Box, Plymouth was chosen:

  1. The central feature of the architecture of the project is the archive in the sky, the strong concrete box, The Box in the Sky, in which the precious collections from around the city will be safely housed. The daring, contemporary architecture counterpoints with the Edwardian architecture of the Museum and Library and the Georgian architecture of the Church.
  2. The Box is simple, unique and the URL is available.
  3. The Box fits well within a family of names in Plymouth, e.g. The House, The Red House, the Hoe, the Sound.
  4. The name allows association beyond Plymouth in the wider south west region and nationally.
  5. The initial concept for the History Centre was based on a modern-day take on a cabinet of curiosities, revealing what’s hidden within, provoking thinking out of the box.
  6. Over 100,000 individual boxes are being sourced to transport the varied collections from around the city to be housed within The Box.
  7. The Box presents opportunities for all kinds of sub-brands within the complex: Gift Box (the Shop), Lunch Box (café or outdoor food outlet), Box Office, Gogglebox (viewing platform or media lab), InBox (Welcome desk).
  8. It can be translated into a strong visual identity.

Family of Venues: Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives

The staff of The Box, Plymouth will be recruited during 2018/19 from the Council’s Arts and Heritage team and through public advertisement. Staff will be responsible for a number of venues including The Box, Smeaton’s Tower, the Elizabethan House and the Merchant’s House. The family of venues will be known as Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives.