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Design in Crisis: Cooper Hewitt's Latest Exhibition

The museum looks at the role and response of design in the face of epidemics, both past and present.


By Rachel Gallaher



From Issue 61

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: In the 1880s, Dr. Albert Freeman Africanus King proposed erecting a screen over Washington, D.C., to keep out mosquitoes (photomontage by Jeffrey Mansfield, MASS Design Group). The Charlotte Valve and Mask, by Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli of the Italian research institute Isinnova. A mosquito net veil modeled by a man in the early 1900s. An illustrated poster created by artist Kayan Cheung-Miaw in 2020.



During the COVID-19 pandemic, designers around the world proved time and again their ability to pivot and use their skills to help the communities around them, from hospital and medical staff to small neighborhood businesses. Starting on December 10 (and running through February 20, 2023), New York’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will highlight many of these stories in its latest exhibition, Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics. Curated and designed by architecture collective MASS Design Group (with Cooper Hewitt), the show will examine the role of design in times of crisis—as well as what happens when communities and individuals unite to aid one another—and feature the work of designers, artists, doctors, engineers, and neighbors who asked, “How can I help?”

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