The Metropolitan Museum of Art is adopting a new scarlet palette, and its choices have some observers seeing red.
A few weeks before the venerable institution opens its new modern-art annex on Madison Avenue, a new logo has set off a geyser of mostly negative reaction online, where the design was labeled "a disaster" and "a graphic misfire."
The museum said in a statement Thursday evening that while some may resist change, the design was chosen "because it represents something simple, bold, and indisputable: The Met is here for everyone."
The new logo replaces a lone "M" with "The Met" in capital letters that appear to flow into one another. It is the work of the New York office of Wolff Olins, a firm with additional locations in San Francisco, London and Dubai.
"We think it's great that people are talking about the work. At Wolff Olins, we always aim to create work that people feel strongly about," said Amy Lee, the strategy director, and Lisa Smith, creative director and head of design at Wolff Olins, New York. "The project is about far more than just a logo—it is about expanding the reach and relevance of the Met."
The new logo, which will replace the museum's decades-old one starting March 1, is part of a broader rebranding campaign that includes signage and other elements.
"The new logo no longer relies on symbols and, instead, is based on the commonly used name 'The Met,' which has an immediacy that speaks to all audiences," the museum said.
In a blistering assessment Wednesday on Vulture.com, Pulitzer Prize-winning music and architecture critic Justin Davidson described the logo as "two short words printed in scarlet letters, stacked and squashed together. The whole ensemble looks like a red double-decker bus that has stopped short, shoving the passengers into each other's backs."
He also took issue with the logo giving equal prominence to the word "The."
While commenters on the online article and some on Twitter tended to agree with Mr. Davidson, not all were critical. "I think it looks great personally," one wrote of the logo. "Much like the art contained within the museum itself, true beauty lies in subjectivity not objectivity."
On the Real Clear Arts blog, art critic Judith H. Dobrzynski, who has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, deplored the logo, pointing to her 2015 article casting a dubious eye on the museum's rebranding campaign.
With the new design, the Met trades a classical image for a more minimalist one, a step some designers lament, said Steve Cup, a 28-year-old independent illustrator and designer in New York. "The whole minimal idea is just getting done to death. I think we're a little sad to see the Met embrace that right now. I think a lot of us are trying to get away from that."
Ms. Lee and Ms. Smith called the design "both modern and classical," a nod to the Met's 5,000 years' worth of art.
Red was chosen, they said, because it "embodies passion and vitality, and has done so across time and culture."