A Belgian Magazine Is Threatening to Sue the Newly Rebranded Hermitage Amsterdam Museum for Cribbing Its Brand Identity

The logo for the H’ART Museum, as the institution will soon be called, looks suspiciously similar to that of HART magazine. 

HART magazine's logo [top] next to that of the newly-rebranded H'ART Museum. Courtesy of HART.

Last month, the Netherlands’ Hermitage Amsterdam announced plans to rebrand itself as the H’ART Museum as part of an ongoing effort to sever ties with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. But the new name, and the designs unveiled alongside it, have not been embraced by all. 

The Belgium contemporary art magazine HART has claimed that the museum cribbed its brand identity. Now it is considering legal action. 

In a press release, HART pointed to similarities between the Hermitage’s new logo and its own. Both appear to use the same font and are similarly styled in all capital letters, though the museum’s logo has an apostrophe after the “H.”  

The magazine, which covers the art scenes of both Belgium and the Netherlands, trademarked its name in 2006 and adopted its current design in 2019. Its release pointed out that the Hermitage Amsterdam filed an emergency application for the trademark H’ART after the magazine raised concerns. 

“Given the modest size of the Dutch-speaking part of the art world, it is somewhat incomprehensible that little or no research seems to have been done on the brand name HART, a name that the museum staff should have been well aware of, given the magazine’s presence in the Netherlands,” the publication wrote in its release. 

HART explained that members of its staff met with museum administrators three times in early July to discuss the issue, but no resolution was reached. 

HART has given the Hermitage Amsterdam ample opportunity to present an adequate response, but it has failed to do so,” the press release read. “Under these circumstances, the magazine have no choice but to further explore legal options.” 

In an email to Artnet News, a spokesperson for the Hermitage Amsterdam said that, “In our view, there is room for both brands; two different names and different interpretation, with the differences clearly known to the public.”

“For the time being, we assume that both parties can come out of it together,” the representative continued. “We would regret any legal proceedings, but face them with confidence.”

Hermitage Amsterdam

Hermitage Amsterdam will be renamed as H’ART Museum on September 1. Photo: Janiek Dam. Courtesy of Hermitage Amsterdam.

The museum was founded in 2009 as an independent non-profit with “unlimited rights” to borrow works from the historic Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg. But in March of 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Amsterdam venue cut ties with its parent institution. 

Doubling down on the gesture, the Hermitage Amsterdam announced last month that it would rebrand itself and partner with a slate of new international institutions—the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.—instead. The Hermitage Amsterdam’s updated identity will go into effect across its physical and digital materials starting September 1. 

“It’s an exciting new step for us, a contemporary and future-proof model,” the museum’s director, Annabelle Birnie, said upon announcing the new name. “We are building on our experience in the international field and are now spreading our wings. Our programming will be multi-voiced reflecting the times we live in. We will show major art exhibitions as well as intimate presentations.” 


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