Exhibitions Archive

This archive includes past Cooper-Hewitt exhibitions dating back to 1975. Earlier exhibitions, including those set as early as the 1930s when the Museum was the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration, are being compiled and will be added at a future date. The Museum is currently closed for renovation, scheduled to re-open in 2014.

Past exhibitions can also be explored online through exhibition catalogs and related publications in our collection of historical publications.

La Nijinska: A Dancer's Legacy

On View: Tuesday, March 18, 1986 to Sunday, July 6, 1986

This exhibition traces the career of Bronislava Nijinska, a pioneering choreographer who was influential in the development of ballet as a modernist art form. The exhibition spans her early training at the Russian Imperial Theatrical School with her brother Vaslav Nijinsky and her career with the Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo through to her years in Paris and the United States.

dance, 20th century, modernism, ballet, theatrical design, costumes, exhibitions

Playing Cards

On View: Tuesday, March 18, 1986 to Sunday, May 25, 1986

This exhibition features selections from more than 100 different playing card decks. The earliest cards are from a 15th-century Visconti-Sforza tarot deck painted by Bonifacio Bembo, while the most contemporary are represented by an uncut printer's sheet of a deck produced with offset lithography. Although most cards are made of paper, examples made from leather, ivory, aluminum, and steel are also on display.

playing cards, games, graphic design, printing, illustration, exhibitions

Toys from the Nuremburg Spielzug Museum

On View: Monday, March 3, 1986 to Sunday, May 11, 1986

More than 200 toys are on display from the Spielzug Museum in Nuremberg, Germany. Nuremberg has been famous for its toys since the late Middle Ages; the exhibition features vintage dolls, doll houses, miniature shop interiors, building blocks, magic lanterns, steam engines, books, and games produced over the past five centuries. 

Organized and presented by the Spielzug Museum of Nuremberg in cooperation with the Goethe House New York, Lufthansa Airlines, and Bayerische Vereinsbank.

toys, Germany, traveling exhibitions


On View: Tuesday, January 21, 1986 to Thursday, March 13, 1986

This is the first major exhibition of Memphis furniture, ceramics, glassware, and drawings in New York City. Established in 1981 in Milan, Memphis is a design movement that defies the rules of classic, functional design. Works are on view from an international set of Memphis designers and architects, including Ettore Sottsass, Matteo Thun, Marco Zanini, Gerard Taylor, Martine Bedin, Michele de Lucchi, George Sowden, Andrea Branzi, Aldo Cibic, and Peter Shire.

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum is the final stop on this traveling exhibition's tour.

Memphis, drawings, furniture design, ceramics, glassware, Italy, 1980s, 20th century, traveling exhibitions

Advertising America

On View: Tuesday, December 17, 1985 to Sunday, March 9, 1986

An exhibition of more than 150 advertisements from the Museum's permanent collection. 

graphic design, advertising, exhibitions

The Golden Eye: An International Tribute to the Artisans of India

On View: Tuesday, November 5, 1985 to Sunday, February 23, 1986

The exhibition displays products and crafts resulting from the collaboration between Indian artisans and internationally-recognized designers from the West. The exhibition includes massive carved stone benches by Mario Bellini, tables by Ettore Sottsass, modular toys by Milton Glaser and Ivan Chermayeff, brocades by Charles Moore, and clothing by Mary McFadden.

Organized by Indian designer Rajeev Sethi, the Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation of India Ltd., and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum as part of the nationwide Festival of India 1985-1986.

India, crafts, artisans, handicrafts, exhibitions

The Modern Spirit: Glass from Finland

On View: Tuesday, October 1, 1985 to Sunday, January 5, 1986

This exhibition highlights distinctive Finnish glassworks from the first decades of the 20th century through the years following World War II. The more than 200 pieces on display represent the work of Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, and other leading modern artists and designers. The exhibition showcases items from the collections of the recently-constructed Finnish Glass Museum in Riihimäki and from the Museum of Applied Arts in Helsinki, many of which are being shown for the first time in the United States.

Finland, glassware, 20th century, exhibitions

Paris Recorded: The Thérèse Bonney Collection

On View: Tuesday, September 17, 1985 to Sunday, December 8, 1985

More than 140 photographs by the photojournalist Thérèse Bonney are on display in this exhibition documenting the evolution of design and decoration in Paris, from the watershed Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925 through the early 1930s. These photographs, selected from the Museum's archives, capture the great changes in the Parisian streetscape due to innovative, modernist facades and art deco influences in window displays at stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Bon Marché.


Thérèse Bonney, 1925 Paris Exposition, France, 20th century, Architecture, interior design, decoration, window treatments, retail, photography, photojournalism, exhibitions

Carnegie's Libraries: A Sesquicentennial Celebration

On View: Tuesday, June 11, 1985 to Sunday, September 8, 1985

To mark the 150th exhibition of Andrew Carnegie's birth, this exhibition focuses on the architectural impact of Carnegie's philanthropic public library program in the United States, which helped construct more than 1,600 buildings. Architectural drawings, photographs, cartoons, posters, and 300 vintage postcards, illustrate the program's broad geographic scope as well as the skillful planning solutions developed by architects in response to the problem of designing a relatively new type of building.

Architecture, architectural drawings, posters, postcards, American, libraries, Andrew Carnegie, exhibitions

Chicago Furniture: Art, Craft and Industry 1833–1983

On View: Tuesday, May 21, 1985 to Sunday, August 25, 1985

An exhibition of the history of furniture making in Chicago, from the development of mechanization and mass production to design innovations in art furniture.

This traveling exhibition was organized by Sharon Darling, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Chicago Historical Society. 

furniture, Chicago, traveling exhibitions, ch:exhibition=35350349