Traveling Exhibitions

Cooper Hewitt exhibitions regularly travel across the country and the world.

willi smith: Street couture

The first museum survey of African-American designer Willi Smith (1948-1987), Willi Smith: Street Couture celebrates this under-recognized pioneer of streetwear fashion, who played an important role in the New York art scene of the 1970s–80s before his sudden death in 1987 of AIDS-related complications. Featuring key works, the exhibition will illustrate the evolution of Smith’s designs through his extensive collaborations with visual and performing artists, architects, and media vanguard, and will demonstrate fashion’s potential to break down cultural and social boundaries. Smith’s work will be revealed not only as an expression of the sociopolitical, economic, and artistic transformations of his time, but also as an actor in the reimagining of fashion from a siloed discipline reinforcing class, race, and gender divides toward an experience and lifestyle-driven industry that can create a space of play and indeterminacy.

Conceptualized for a broad audience of fashion, art, and design enthusiasts, as well as the general public, the exhibition creates new avenues for understanding Smith’s influential work in dialogue with a heady period in American history. On view will be photography, video, design drawings, garments, patterns, ephemera and architecture, most of which has not been seen in more than 30 years. Works have been culled from institutional archives and the personal collections of Smith’s friends and collaborators and feature a range of artists including Nam June Paik, SITE, Christo and Jeanne Claude, Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, Juan Downey, Steven Meisel, Keith Haring, and Dan Friedman.

The design of the exhibition will be executed by SITE, the original architects of Williwear’s iconic 1980s showrooms and boutiques. These visionary retail environments brought New York’s streetscape indoors to create a flexible framework for display and celebrate Smith’s inspiration from everyday people on the street. An essential element of the exhibition, the SITE showroom architecture is built from modular constructions of fencing, masonry, piping, and brick and can be recreated at subsequent venues through local sourcing.

Willi Smith: Street Couture will be accompanied by a book co-published with Rizzoli, with essays by figures in fashion, art, and culture. Topics include the emergence of street style in the United States, the history of collaborative practice, the downtown New York art scene of the 1970s/80s, the relationship between fashion, marketing, and race, and the impact of Black and queer communities.

Tour Schedule:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
February 14, 2020 – September 7, 2020

Availability: as of Fall 2020, for slots of 4 months
Space requirements: 1500ft2 | 139m²

Nature—Cooper hewitt
design triennial

Designers are striving to transform our relationship with the natural world. With access to deeper scientific knowledge and technology, they are radically rethinking design collaborations and resources. Their approach marks a growing symbiotic relationship with nature that expresses a hopeful and nurturing partnership.

Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, co-organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Cube design museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands, features 62 projects from 2016 and later of architecture, urbanism, product design, landscape design, fashion, visual communication, and materials research. They illustrate how designers are collaborating with scientists, engineers, environmentalists, academics and other stakeholders to find inventive and promising solutions to the environmental and social challenges confronting humanity today.

The exhibition is organized into seven sections, which describe designers’ strategies in working with nature. Understand focuses on how designers mediate scientific knowledge to enhance humanity’s understanding of nature. Simulate offers advances in scientific understanding and technology that enable designers to simulate nature. Salvage explores how humans’ impact on the planet is galvanizing designers to reclaim and repurpose raw materials. In Facilitate, designers embrace nature’s dynamic forces to promote biological growth in architecture and products. Augment features projects that harness nature’s capabilities to enhance objects, buildings and the human body. In Remediate, designers present works that attempt to slow, stop and reverse the damaging impacts of humanity’s footprint on the planet. And finally, projects in Nature seek a broader realignment with the planet and challenge us to respect nature rather than dismiss it.

Tour Schedule:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
May 10, 2019 – January 20, 2020

Availability: as of February 2020, for slots of 4 months
Space requirements: 8000ft2 | 743m²

Design with the 90%

Presenting innovative, low-cost design responses to the needs and input of underserved communities around the world, Design with the 90% extends a series of exhibitions organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum dedicated to socially responsible design. Over the last decade, these groundbreaking exhibitions have sparked a global dialogue around design’s significant role in addressing critical 21st-century challenges.

The first exhibition of the series, Design for the Other 90%, explored workable design solutions for counteracting the consequences of extreme poverty. Its next iteration, Design with the Other 90%: CITIES, addressed the complexities of rapid unprecedented urbanization. By the People: Designing a Better America showcased innovative and inclusive design responses to the impact of poverty in the United States. The projects chosen for Design with the 90% highlight how design is improving access to life’s essentials—clean water, health care, education, and shelter—as well as increasing economic opportunities and strengthening communities.

Tour Schedule:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
September 13, 2018 – August 31, 2019

Availability: as of Fall 2019
Square footage: 2000

Jewelry of IDeas: Gifts from the susan Grant lewin collection

Jewelry of Ideas celebrates a major gift of contemporary jewelry from Susan Grant Lewin to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. This exhibition features nearly 150 objects by over 100 modern and contemporary jewelry designers from eighteen countries. The exhibition  illuminates the radical conceptual and material developments in jewelry design that have transformed the field.

Tour Schedule:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
November 17, 2017 – May 28, 2018

Availability: as of June 2018, for slots of 4-6 months
Square footage: 1000-2000


Access+Ability highlights some of the extraordinary designs developed during the past decade with and by people who span a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Fueled by demand and advances in research and digital technologies, the proliferation of functional, life-enhancing products is creating greater access in homes, schools and workplaces, and people’s abilities to engage more fully in life. Low-tech designs that assist with daily routines such as bathing and dressing, game-changing digital technology like eye-tracking devices for hands-free communicating and editing, and sensors embedded in clothing that deliver information through haptic vibrations, plus innovations in wheelchairs for the developing world, are augmenting the potential for people to access the world in ways previously unimaginable. Similarly, customized solutions are embracing this new spirit, giving people aesthetic choices in everything from personalized prosthetics, to hearing aids designed like jewelry, to wayfinding apps.

Most of the 72 works in Access+Ability are in production, while some are prototypes that point to future directions in this rapidly advancing realm of design.

Tour Schedule:
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
December 15, 2017 – September 3, 2018

Carnegie Museum of Art
June 1 – September 29, 2019

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
October 19, 2019 – February 9, 2020

Availability: as of March 2020, for slots of 4-6 months
Square footage: 2000

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION on Traveling Exhibitions, PLEASE CONTACT YVOnne Gomez, at

For exhibitions from  the Smithsonian institution Traveling exhibition ServiCE (SITES), PLease Visit HERE.