Montreal studio of designer Maxim Aginsky
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.

USHMM - branding

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Logo, Corporate identity & Web design (front page) for USHMM - A living memorial to the Holocaust @ December 2016
USHMM logo concept illustration
USHMM corporate identity
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is the United States' official memorial to the Holocaust. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the USHMM provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. It is dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy.


It is a challenge for anyone born a significant amount of time after a tragedy (I was born in 1979 - 34 years after the catastrophe) to create a visual symbol for that event which represents the emotions involved. On the other hand, I have a personal connection to the event.

Speaking literally, I exist because my family was able to escape from the city. One of our distant family members was able to help my grandpa and grandma run away from Kiev just before the Germans took it over in the autumn of 1941 and one of the most notorious episodes of the Holocaust – the Babi Yar execution - happened. Records show that 33,771 Jews concentrated in Babi Yar were executed by shooting on September 29 and 30th, 1941. Another 15,000 Jews were murdered in the same place during 1941 and 1942 and my grandparents, gratefully, were an exception. My father was born four years after the Babi Yar execution.

As you can see, I am connected. Of course, that does not mean that I have a higher emotional sensitivity than someone who does not have this kind of family story. Personally, I always choose spiritual relation over blood relation and believe that we "build" ourselves – this means: if the subject is important for the person and the person spends a good amount of time on it, he will have a stronger connection to it than someone that was just born into something, but does not give a penny about it.

Where was I going with this? Ah…yes. My apologies in advance to those who may take offence to my creations and explanations of it. I had good intentions. On the other hand, the designer's role is to translate meaning to the modern audience…

The logo concept

December 3, 2016

The mind map

Step 1.

The heart (Here we use the idea of the heart in its symbolic sense as the center of emotion. Color - red).

Step 2.

Crying heart (Crying is the shedding of tears in response to an emotional state).

Step 3.

Eye 50% + Tear 50%

Optional color scheme: eye – gradient, use all colors (the human eye has many colors and combinations); tear – blue color.

Step 4.

Let's use two halves of one heart (breaking heart) to create a crying eye. Anyone that is emotionally connected to the tragedy has a broken heart at the moment of the emotional connection and crying eyes, figuratively at least.

If we simplify the two halves of the heart, we get triangles which we can rearrange into the Star of David. I do not think I need to explain the relation between David's star and the 20th century holocaust. Here we have a direct association with the color yellow.

Concept sketches

USHMM logo concept sketches

The USHMM logo

Below is the final version of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum logo.

Crying heart USHMM logo 2016


Clearly following from the above, the color scheme will include: red, yellow, black, white and blue (secondary color). Possible gradient usage - combined using the established colors.

USHMM brand colors

Web design

Here are the first and third ("Visit the museum") sections of the front page. Each of the sections can be reached by a single turn of the mouse scroll wheel.

USHMM front website page sections on 27-inch iMac

USHMM front website page sections on iMac

The first section of the front page on mobile device screen.

USHMM front website page on iPhone 7

USHMM front website page design on iPhone 7

As one scrolls down, sections alternate from left to right like tears falling down. This idea is partly incorporated on the home page, but can be better visualized on other website pages where the blocks of information follow each other clearly.

Tears section illustration. Sketch

Tears section design idea

If the left-side halves are merged with the right-side halves we will receive Stars of David showing up from the top of the page to the bottom.

USHMM front website page design

The long page scroll became one of the main subjects for discussion among UX designers and people who have any relation to the field of website development. Real battles about the pros and cons of the long page scroll took place on the pages of internet. Some designers emphasize – and sure, it is user-friendly – giving space to the content, suchwise therefore dramatically increasing the page height and accordingly, the scrolling time. Others prefer to place most of the information into the initial view – the visible part of the screen - thus presenting the most important part to the user immediately.

Parallel concept STARTs here

Working mouse as a tool for commandments execution

Personally, I think that the user should "merit/earn" the view of the information. In other words, the involvement needs to be physically confirmed from the user side for the best interaction between the two participants - collective mind and user.

Genesis 3:19

You will work hard for your food, until your face is covered with sweat. You will work hard until the day you die, and then you will become dust again. I used dust to make you, and when you die, you will become dust again.

We need to scroll for our bread.

So in this context, the concept of the "working" mouse as a tool to earn the view of the information fits perfectly into the most influential concept ever.

Ignoring the rules can cause real disaster. The UX designers should remember the rules given by people and histories, printed forever in our hearts and collective memory, and follow them.

Parallel concept ENDs here


Since I planned to fit a lot of information into the USHMM front website page, and still needed to make it user friendly, I separated the content into sections and call each section with a single turn of the mouse scroll wheel - very little mouse involvement. Thus, at the same time we can have and enjoy long page structure with enough needed spacing, as well as having all important info right in front of the users' eyes all the time.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum front web page design. Desktop

USHMM full front web page final design

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