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Nature Museum Visual Identity

Nature Museum
Chicago Academy of Sciences
Environmental Signage

Nick Adam
Concept, Design Direction, Strategy, Design

Cheryl Kao

Tom Mulhern


Nature Museum Team

Erin Amico
President and CEO

Sara Persky
VP of Marketing

Dana Arnett
PNNM Museum Board Trustee

Janelle Vreeland
Web & Social Media Director

James Liebenson
Marketing Manager

Jessie Buckey
Marketing and Content

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences (Nature Museum) has been connecting Chicagoans with nature and science since 1857, making it Chicago’s oldest museum and one of America’s earliest scientific institutions. Following a new strategic plan, the Nature Museum commissioned Nick Adam’s team at Span to evolve its visual identity to broaden its influence in the spheres of environmental action, conservation, and research.

Span worked closely with the Nature Museum to craft a bold new brand identity inspired by native Illinois prairies. The identity system and website were designed to be adaptable to the Nature Museum’s diverse audiences. Visitors get to experience the vibrancy of the Nature Museum as a place to connect with nature, while scientists and researchers can recognize the Chicago Academy of Sciences as a hub for scientific study and public engagement.

For the wordmark, Span crafted it using Céline Hurka’s typeface Tonka, whose flaring stems convey a historic, organic essence — symbolizing the museum’s dedication to nature and environmental leadership. The complementary font, Miles Newlyn’s New Atten, is a charming humanist sans-serif inspired by the voice of naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

The straightforward, confident logo elevates the Nature Museum’s presence and communicates in an accessible, inclusive voice while linking the museum to the Chicago Academy of Sciences.

Inspired by the Illinois prairie, the color palette spans catalpa green to columbine pink to milkweed cream—unexpected blends that reflect nature’s diversity and beauty. The abstract icon evokes butterflies, flowers, and clouds—capturing the sense of wonder the natural world inspires. Beyond its official use, the icon serves as a lens to view the world and when composed into patterns, instills a sense of positive activity.

Span’s identity system for the Nature Museum can use the logotype in a manner that stands alone as a mark of leadership or it can dynamically integrate with the organic shapes and imagery. This adaptability suits diverse scenarios, from advising corporations on sustainability to inspiring new nature champions. In addition to the visual identity, Span redesigned the Nature Museum’s website, signage, and other collateral for the museum and its store.

At the Nature Museum, we are more than a repository of history: we are pioneers in conservation, active cultivators of environmental stewardship and innovators in educational and community-driven science programs. Our brand identity, which largely remained unchanged for the past 20 years, now takes a transformative step forward to match the Museum’s dynamic evolution,” said Nature Museum President and CEO Erin Amico

Nature Museum Museum Board Trustee, Dana Arnett, was instrumental in helping lead the process with Span. He shares,

On behalf of the Nature Museum marketing team and Board of Trustees, we're grateful for the care and creativity that Span brings to our ongoing rebranding efforts. Their contributions are already helping elevate the purpose and public presence of this storied institution."
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