I was honored to be invited by Crowded Ocean to be the lead creative in the branding of the Exploratorium Gala Opening Event. The Grand Opening was a series of events for donors, friends and family, the media, major San Francisco socialites and philanthropists, that all culminated in a party at the new Pier 15 that was destined to be the hottest ticket in town.

The huge spectrum of stakeholders and interested people meant that the creative materials needed to be both individually tailored and at the same time consistent. The list was long:

• Save the date invitation and landing page.

• A unique invitation to the Gala party for the Museums most important donors and boosters.

• Dinner invitations for all of the constituent stakeholders at multiple giving levels .

• The program for the evening of the Gala party.

• Sneak preview invitations for the media

• Sneak preview invitations for donors


In order to provide attendees with appropriate lead time the project kicked off with a save the date postcard. I established a more formal tone for this piece and the dinner invitations as they represented the more serious side of the museum. Nothing beats  the elegance of a letterpress tone-on-tone card, and I then carried the black-on-black over to the landing page.


For San Francisco society the invitation took the form of a hand delivered 24x36 poster in a custom printed commemorative tube. My inspiration needed to go no further than the powerful photography of in house Photographer Amy Snyder. Over the duration the project Amy had shot over a hundred thousand images, documenting and observing every detail of the process. As a tribute to this incredible body of work and also the remarkable journey from a run down waterfront corner to a world class interactive museum I chose to make the poster from a selection of her images.

I also incorporated an existing component of the museum branding referred to as "additive content", these simple hand drawn elements were already being used across their marketing materials so I created a version the Exploratorium "O" that could be incorporated as a graphical element across all of the various materials.

The poster was delivered by courier to the attendees homes in a custom tube featuring an element of the museums architectural detail that would also feature in the dinner invitations.


Included in the invitation was also the program for the evening events. I continued the theme from the poster, combining the images and the additive art.


In the lead up to the Grand Opening the museum invited all of the various stakeholders to a series of events including dinners and opportunities for a sneak preview. For the more formal dinners I continued the theme of the sophisticated tone-on-tone letterpress leveraging the beautiful plankton spirals from the stainless steel wall on the side of the museum to inspire and intrigue the attendees.


The previews included Community donors, friends and family and the media in both print and digital form.

© 2018 Tim Sawyer