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.

Designed for Theater

On View: Tuesday, January 25, 1983 to Sunday, August 7, 1983

A comprehensive review of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s permanent theater design collection. Among the designs for stage sets, costumes, and curtains are a 1580 print by Andrea Palladio for the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, a two-volume folio of the Paris Opera by Charles Garnier, and works by 20th-century set designers Oliver Smith and Robert O’Hearn.

theater, theatrical design, Architecture, drawings, costumes, permanent collection, exhibitions, ch:exhibition=35349707

Tiffany Studios: Metalwork and Other Decorative Arts

On View: Tuesday, January 18, 1983 to Sunday, April 17, 1983

A comprehensive exhibition of both rare and mass-produced Tiffany metalwork from the late 19th and early 20th century. The 75 objects on display include desk accessories, candlesticks, boxes, jewelry, and lamp bases in gold, silver, bronze, and enamel on copper.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, metalwork, gold, silver, decorative objects, jewelry, exhibitions

American Picture Palaces

On View: Tuesday, November 23, 1982 to Sunday, February 27, 1983

The movie palaces of the early 20th century are the subjects of this exhibition. Original furnishings, signs, photography, film footage, and architectural drawings from dozens of theaters bring the “Golden Age” of the American moviegoing experience to life. Among the featured theaters are New York City's Roxy Theatre, Paramount Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall, and Hollywood's Pantages Theatre. 

Architecture, architectural drawings, American, movies, 20th century, exhibitions

Scandinavian Modern 1880–1980

On View: Tuesday, September 14, 1982 to Sunday, January 2, 1983

A landmark retrospective of design from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Over 330 examples of ceramics, glass, metalwork, furniture, and textiles were selected from private and public collections in Scandinavia and the United States, documenting the continuity and changes that distinguish the Scandinavian tradition in design and the decorative arts. Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva, Marimekko, Hans Wagner, Georg Jensen, and Gustavsberg are among the designers whose skill and sophistication are on display.

Scandinavia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, ceramics, Glass, metalwork, furniture, textiles, exhibitions, ch:exhibition=35349997

Interior Design: The New Freedom

On View: Wednesday, September 1, 1982 to Friday, September 10, 1982

Videotaped recordings of Barbaralee Diamonstein in conversation with 12 American designers and architects, including Massimo Vignelli, Angelo Donghia, and Ward Bennett, about their approaches to the problems of contemporary interior design.

videos, interviews, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, American, exhibitions, ch:exhibition=35350523

Fashion Prints: 125 Years of Style

On View: Tuesday, August 31, 1982 to Monday, January 3, 1983

The majority of the prints on exhibition were originally assembled by Vyvyan Holland, Oscar Wilde’s son and subsequently housed in the Museum's collection. The prints, which collectively present a survey of 19th- and early 20th-century fashion for men, women, and children, provide a fascinating glimpse into what was considered “proper” attire for all occasions. 

fashion, prints, exhibitions


On View: Tuesday, August 3, 1982 to Tuesday, November 2, 1982

This exhibition is filled with examples of French and Italian lace spanning more than 500 years—including 16th-century gold ornamental braid and contemporary lightweight, flexible stitching. 

lace, lace making, textiles, permanent collection, exhibitions, ch:exhibition=35350419

Button, Button

On View: Tuesday, June 8, 1982 to Sunday, August 22, 1982

The Hewitt sisters collected buttons from the United States, England, France, and Eastern Europee. Selections from their collection, in addition to those from private New York collections, are featured in this exhibition of a thousand buttons. Materials include enameled and gilded porcelain, carved ivory, precious metal, and mother-of-pearl, as well as the synthetic materials that have been in use since the mid-1930s.

buttons, exhibitions. fashion, accessories

The Column: Structure and Ornament

On View: Tuesday, June 8, 1982 to Sunday, August 22, 1982

Columns are shown in drawings, prints, rare books, photographs, wallpapers, textiles, and decorative objects from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s permanent collection. Tuscan, Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns have been used by architects for structural support as well as decoration through the ages, dating to the fourth century B.C. Napoleon’s column in the Place Vendôme, Nelson’s column in Trafalger Square in London, and contemporary uses of this structure are included in the exhibition.

columns, Architecture, drawings, prints, rare books, wallpaper, textiles, decorative arts, permanent collection, exhibitions, ch:exhibition=35350415

Basketry: Tradition in New Form

On View: Tuesday, June 8, 1982 to Sunday, August 22, 1982

The exhibition of works by 10 contemporary American artists who transform ancient basket-making techniques into new forms. Both traditional and modern materials are used to craft these pieces, including reed, raffia, bamboo, grasses, willow shoots, clay, metal, and plastic cable.

handicrafts, artisans, baskets, 20th century, traveling exhibitions