Helvetica at MoMA

Helvetica Bold, 36 point, sorts

Yesterday, Brian and I made a trip up to New York City to see the Helvetica exhibit at MoMA. It was interesting, but the exhibit was even smaller than I expected. Beforehand I tried looking for information on the web about how large it was to gauge how long it would take, but everyone that wrote about it didn't really go into that detail. So, for future reference by others out there, this photo shows the entire exhibit.

The entirety of the Helvetica exhibit

Probably one of the parts of the exhibit that I found most interesting was this diagram they provided for comparing Helvetica with Akzidenz Grotesk.

A comparison of Helvetica and Akzidenz Grotesk

Since I have been asked a few times about software for comparing typefaces, the use of translucent overlays struck me as a useful basis for developing such software. More photographs from the trip are over on Flickr.

Another unfortunate thing is that they are not doing even irregular showings of the Helvetica documentary at the museum. Hopefully, I'll be able to find it somewhere eventually. Apparently the film was shown in Philly, but I missed it.  It looks like I might be able to catch it in DC in September.


  1. Karl said,

    July 9, 2007 @ 2:48 am

    I am so reminded of this strip.

  2. Chung-chieh Shan said,

    July 9, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the report. “Helvetica 1957” in the lower-left corner is pretty clearly set in Akzidenz Grotesk. It seems that “Akzidenz Grotesk 1896” is set in Helvetica?

  3. Joshua Dunfield said,

    July 12, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

    The comparison appears to show that Helvetica’s main innovation was the capital ‘R’. 🙂

    Tangentially, do you happen to know what this is? (Newer signs in the Toronto subway seem to just use Helvetica.)

  4. Chung-chieh Shan said,

    July 13, 2007 @ 2:04 am

    Identifont says it is Futura, and indeed, a site on Toronto transit says it is “best viewed with Quadrat’s Toronto Subway font or Futura Medium BT.”

  5. Will said,

    July 23, 2007 @ 6:44 am

    It’s similar to Futura, but not identical, as you can see here. (In particular, note the uppercase R.)

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