Serious Play: Design in Mid-Century America

On View: September 28 - January 6, 2018, Milwaukee Art Museum

May 5 - August 25, 2019, Denver Art Museum

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America explores the projects of over 40 designers who advocated for playfulness and whimsy within their creations for corporations, domestic interiors, and children. The exhibition presents play as a serious form of inspiration, experimentation, and problem solving. In midcentury America, such playful design occurred against the backdrop of a booming consumer market and as a counterbalance to Cold War–era anxiety. Furniture, toys, textiles, films, posters, ceramics are among the objects featured.

Co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum, the exhibition includes over 200 works in various media, ranging from works on paper, models, textiles, furniture and ceramics to films, toys, playground equipment and product design. Organized around three themes—the American home, child’s play, and corporate approaches to design—the exhibition encourages visitors to consider how design connects to their daily lives.