Standard Deviations (exhibition)

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Standard Deviations was the name of a Museum of Modern Art exhibition that was notable for showcasing the 23 digital typefaces that MoMA acquired in January 2011[1] for its Architecture and Design Collection. The exhibition was open from March 2, 2011 through January 30, 2012.[2] The full title of the exhibition was Standard Deviations: Types and Families in Contemporary Design, though the title was originally announced as Standard Deviations: Prototypes, Archetypes, and Families in Contemporary Design. The exhibition was organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Kate Carmody, curatorial assistant.

While the exhibition showed works of design other than typefaces, the selection and acquisition of typefaces was significant in the history of typographic design. Aside from a set of 36-point Helvetica Bold lead type designed by Max Miedinger in 1956, these were the first typefaces acquired by MoMA.

Twenty-three typefaces[edit]

Typeface Year Designer Foundry Source
Bell Centennial 1976–1978 Matthew Carter Mergenthaler Linotype Company [2]
Big Caslon 1994 Matthew Carter Carter & Cone [3]
Dead History 1990 P. Scott Makela, Zuzana Licko Emigre [4]
FF Beowolf 1990 Erik van Blokland, Just van Rossum FontShop [5]
FF Blur 1992 Neville Brody FontShop [6]
FF DIN 1995 Albert-Jan Pool FontShop [7]
FF Meta 1984–1991 Erik Spiekermann FontShop [8]
Gotham 2000 Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones Hoefler Type Foundry [9]
HTF Didot 1991 Jonathan Hoefler Hoefler Type Foundry [10]
Interstate 1993–1995 Tobias Frere-Jones Font Bureau [11]
ITC Galliard 1978 Matthew Carter International Typeface Corporation [12]
Keedy Sans 1991 Jeffery Keedy Emigre [13]
Mantinia 1993 Matthew Carter Carter & Cone [14]
Mason 1992 Jonathan Barnbrook Emigre [15]
Mercury 1996 Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones Hoefler & Frere-Jones [16]
Miller 1997 Matthew Carter Font Bureau [17]
New Alphabet 1967 Wim Crouwel [18]
Oakland 1985 Zuzana Licko Emigre [19]
OCR-A 1966 American Type Founders American Type Founders [20]
Retina 1999 Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones Hoefler Type Foundry [21]
Template Gothic 1990 Barry Deck Emigre [22]
Verdana 1995 Matthew Carter Microsoft [23]
Walker 1995 Matthew Carter Walker Art Center [24]

The selection of typefaces met with some criticism. On Design Observer,[3] Paul Shaw expressed "puzzlement" over the selection and questioned the omission of important foundries and typefaces in the digital era. While the timeframe of the selections represents a time of diversification in type design, all but two are associated with either Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Emigre or FontShop.


  1. ^ "MoMA - Digital Fonts: 23 New Faces in MoMA's Collection".
  2. ^ "Standard Deviations: Types and Families in Contemporary Design". The Museum of Modern Art.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 2012-07-12 at