This exhibition, curated by MASS Design Group and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, was organized during the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic revealed what some have known for a long time: breathing is spatial. This fact has implications at the scale of the body, building, city, and planet. Everyone on Earth has been affected by the pandemic. Unequal access to housing, jobs, and health care ensured that COVID-19 hit marginalized communities harder than others.
This exhibition presents architectural case studies and historical narratives alongside creative design responses to COVID-19. Every designer, artist, doctor, engineer, or neighbor featured in the exhibition asked, “How can I help?” They used open-source collaboration, rapid-response prototyping, product hacking, and social activism to create medical devices, protective gear, infographics, political posters, architecture, and community services—all with the shared aspiration to reduce structural barriers that keep us from accessing the care we all deserve.
A selection of objects featured in the exhibition.
Curatorial team: MASS Design Group (Regina Chen, Jeffrey Mansfield, Michael Murphy, Morgan O’Hara and Maggie Stern). Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design, and Julie Pastor, curatorial assistant) Exhibition designer: MASS Design Group (Annie Wang) Graphic designers: Span (Alyssa Arnesen and Bud Rodecker) and Rick Valicenti
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.