Current Exhibitions

View of gallery wall painted blue with large circular opening, flanked on either side by vertical posters and visitors looking at artwork. Circular opening provides sightline to other parts of the exhibition and more visitors within the museum.

on view through FEBRUARY 20, 2023

A collage of four images, from left to right: the illuminated exterior of a cholera treatment center; a figure putting on a multi-colored mask with a clear section over the lips; a hand holds a lozenge-shaped green plastic device; a person wearing blue and white scrubs against a pink background.

What is design’s role in times of crisis? Communities and individuals come together to aid each other, push for change, and create new spaces, objects, and services. Epidemics—both in the past and in the present—have triggered the discovery of new ways to treat and prevent disease while exposing systemic gaps and failures.

This exhibition features the work of designers, artists, doctors, engineers, and neighbors who asked, “How can I help?” In response to crisis, they created medical devices, PPE, mutual aid, infographics, posters, and architecture. Their creative actions have included open-source collaboration, rapid-response prototyping, hacking, and activism. The exhibition is curated and designed by MASS Design Group with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Architectural case studies and historical narratives appear alongside creative responses to the current pandemic.

Learn more about Design and Healing.

Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects
On View through February 13, 2022

A black ink outline drawing with shaded grey washes on off-white paper depicting the early 20th century, neo-Georgian style, sprawling mansion that houses the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, viewed from below as it is almost entirely submerged in turbulent, surging waves, and engulfed by dark, storm clouds.

Jon Gray, co-founder of the Bronx, New York-based creative collective and cooking advocacy group Ghetto Gastro, curates the 19th installment in the exhibition series that invites designers, artists, architects, and public figures to examine and interpret the museum’s collection.

Learn more about Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects.


on view through APRIL 10, 2022

Graphic advertising poster for [AEROSHELL LUBRICATING OIL], with a stylized image of a sleek racing car in motion, in black, deep blues, white, and warm yellow

The largest-ever exhibition of works by graphic design pioneer E. McKnight Kauffer (American, 1890–1954) traces the designer’s transformative role in integrating avant-garde style into modern life. Renowned in his lifetime as the “poster king,” Kauffer’s career encompassed all media as he relentlessly pursued innovation in the commercial arts. The exhibition features more than 150 design objects, ranging from riveting posters promoting revolutions in transportation to book jackets and illustrations for the most influential publications of the time, as well as groundbreaking abstract designs for theatrical productions, carpets, film titles, and more. The publication E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist in Advertising—a 2021 Alice Award finalistis available at SHOP Cooper Hewitt.

Learn more about Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer.

botanical expressions
On View through September 25, 2022

In the galleries of Cooper Hewitt is displayed a large, old fashioned book with its pages open. Behind the book is a case with a set of 12 porcelain plates with botanical models painted on them. Behind the case, printed in jumbo scale on the wall, is a botanical illustration of a flowering plant with pink flowers. Two butterflies with black and yellow wings flutter around the flower.

Interpretations of botanical forms wind their way through the decorative arts of the late 18th through the early 20th centuries. Botanical Expressions focuses on key figures—Christopher Dresser, Emile Gallé, William Morris, and Louis Comfort Tiffany—whose knowledge of the natural sciences and personal practices of gardening enriched their creative output as designers. A timeline of objects reflects botanicals in form and pattern, highlighting shifting styles across geography and media in textiles, ceramics, glass, wallcoverings, and more. Significant loans from Smithsonian Libraries include illustrated guidebooks that designers used for natural research and drawing instruction.

Immersion Room
Temporarily closed

To ensure the healthy and safety of our visitors and staff, the Immersion Room is temporarily closed.

Learn more about the Immersion Room.


Exhibition supporters

Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics is made possible with major support from Crystal and Chris Sacca. Generous support is also provided by Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Cooper Hewitt Master’s Program Fund.

Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer is made possible with support from the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery Endowment Fund and the Esme Usdan Exhibition Endowment Fund.

E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist in Advertising is made possible in part by Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

Nature by Design is made possible by major support from Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee. Additional support is provided by the Cooper Hewitt Master’s Program Fund.

Digital Experience supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Exhibitions of the permanent collection are made possible by major support from Nancy Marks. Additional support is provided by Elizabeth and Lee Ainslie and the Henry Luce Foundation.

The Immersion Room is made possible by major support from Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee.

Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects is made possible by Crystal and Chris Sacca and the Marks Family Foundation Endowment Fund.