Upcoming Exhibitions

WYSS institute selects

On view July 12, 2019 through march 8, 2020

Wyss Institute Selects is the 18th installment in the exhibition series that invites designers, artists, architects and public figures to examine and interpret the museum’s collection. The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University uses nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired technologies and commercial products that will bring about positive impact worldwide. Wyss will present their vision of Biofuturism, which in this exhibition will be inspired by nature and Futurism in design and art.

face values

opening sept. 20, 2019

Presented in Cooper Hewitt’s Process Lab, Face Values is an immersive installation that explores the pervasive but often hidden role of facial-detection technology in contemporary society. The exhibition is curated by Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt, and features original work by designers R. Luke DuBois and Zachary Lieberman, displayed within a digital environment designed by Matter Architecture Practice and complemented by a visual essay by Jessica Helfand.


Wyss Institute Selects is made possible by the Marks Family Foundation Endowment 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.

nature by design: selections from the permanent collection

Nature by Design presents a rotating selection of extraordinary design drawn from Cooper Hewitt’s collection of over 210,000 objects, inviting visitors to discover how nature and design have intersected in the past and continue to converge in our world. Learn more.

nature by design: COCHINEAL

On view Nov. 9 2019 through jan. 3, 2020

Since Pre-Hispanic times the cochineal insect has been used as a natural colorant by indigenous peoples from the Americas. This installation explores the enduring legacy of cochineal and its innovative use among contemporary designers from across the Americas through a variety of medium including lacquered furniture, textiles, and works on paper.

Nature by design: after icebergs

On view Nov. 16 2019 through sept. 7, 2020

In 1859, the American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church traveled by ship to Newfoundland to observe icebergs. On the 160th anniversary of his expedition, After Icebergswill present a selection of sketches and studies made by Church that document his first-hand impressions of these majestic forms of floating ice.

Nature by design: botanical expressions

On view dec. 7 2019 through june 14, 2020

Interpretations of botanical forms wind their way through the decorative arts of the late 18ththrough 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.


Featured Image: Drawing, Iceberg and Ice Flower, 1859 Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900) Brush and oil, graphite on paperboard 30.6 × 51 cm (12 1/16 × 20 1/16 in.) Gift of Louis P. Church, 1917-4-296-b Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution