Traveling Exhibitions

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


Beautiful Users, organized by Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Design, introduces visitors to one of the fundamental changes in design thinking over the past half-century: the shift toward designs based on observations of human anatomy and behavior. In the early twentieth century, designers and architects began considering measurements of human anatomy in order to create more functional products and to standardize design. For example, designer Henry Dreyfuss and his colleague Alvin R. Tilley created “Joe” and “Josephine,” generic depictions of the average American body, and Tilley and designer Niels Diffrient went on to create Humanscale, a system of measurements that accounts for people of diverse ages, abilities, and heights. “Beautiful Users” is the first in a series of exhibitions that seek to introduce the public to the people and methods that define design as an essential human activity. On view at Cooper Hewitt December 12, 2014 to April 26, 2015.

On view at Museum of Design Atlanta, June 25, 2016-January 8, 2017.


How Posters Work features more than 170 pieces from Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection, dating from the early twentieth century to the present. The posters on view show how dozens of different designers—from prominent pioneers like Paul Rand, Philippe Apeloig, and M/M Paris, to lesser-known makers—have mobilized principles of composition, perception, and storytelling to convey ideas and construct experiences. Curated by Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design, How Posters Work shows how designers have used the medium of the poster to explore clarity and complexity, flatness and depth, static representations and unfolding stories. The 208-page book that accompanies the exhibition is a rich primer in visual thinking. On view at Cooper Hewitt May 15 to January 24, 2016.

On view at Milwaukee Art Museum, March 31-June 5, 2017.


Cooper Hewitt’s renowned Triennial exhibition series showcases some of the most exciting, provocative, and innovative design created around the globe during the previous three years. Curated by Andrea Lipps, Assistant Curator, and Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design, the 2015 presentation will address the notion of beauty in all its guises through the work of sixty-five of the most outstanding voices in the global design scene. The exhibition will feature approximately 250 objects from all areas of design—including fashion, product design, interactive design, architecture, scent design, graphics and communications, and more—that address themes including ethereality, extravagance, transgression, and transformation. On view at Cooper Hewitt February 12, 2016 to August 21, 2016.

On view at San Jose Museum of Art, October 8, 2016-February 19, 2017.
Availability: as of March 2017, for slots of 4-6 months
Square footage: 6000-7000

By the people: designing a better america

By the People: Designing a Better America is the third exhibition in Cooper Hewitt’s groundbreaking Design with the 90% humanitarian design series. The first exhibition, Design and the Other 90%, opened at Cooper Hewitt in 2007, followed by Design with the Other 90%: CITIES in 2011. Organized by Cynthia E. Smith, Cooper Hewitt’s Curator of Socially Responsible Design, the exhibition is the first in the series to focus exclusively on conditions in the United States by exploring economic, social, and environmentally sustainable designs addressing many challenges faced by urban, suburban, and rural communities. On view at Cooper Hewitt September 30, 2016 to March 2017.

Availability: as of April 2017, for slots of 4-6 months
Square footage: 6000-7000

Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative reuse

SCRAPS, on view at Cooper Hewitt from September 23, 2016 through April 16, 2017, presents three designers’ alternative approaches to the shockingly high human and environmental costs of textile industry waste. Christina Kim, founder of Los Angeles-based fashion brand dosa; Reiko Sudo, managing director of Tokyo textile design firm Nuno; and Luisa Cevese, founder of Milan-based accessories and home goods company Riedizioni, all share a profound respect for scraps as repositories of raw materials, energy, labor, and creativity. The exhibition’s concept provides a unique platform for exploring many facets of sustainability: using materials and resources efficiently, promoting meaningful labor practices, sustaining local craft traditions, and exploring new technologies as integral to the recycling process.

Availability: as of May 2017, for slots of 4-6 months
Square footage: 1500

Energizing the Everyday: The George R. Kravis II collection

Energizing the Everyday celebrates the collecting vision of George R. Kravis II and its synergy with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s broad and diverse collection of modern and contemporary design. The exhibition showcases highlights of the Kravis collection dating from the early twentieth century to the present. From industrial design and furniture to tableware and textiles, the exhibition makes visual, material, and conceptual connections across time and geography. While the diverse selection of objects can serve as a core group, the range and themes can be enhanced by the addition of works from the borrowing institution’s collection.

Availability: as of April 2017, for slots of 4-6 months
Square footage: 2000-2500