Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America


September 28, 2018–January 6, 2019

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America 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.

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America is co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts




image: Henry P. Glass (American, b. Austria, 1911-2003). Manufactured by Fleetwood Furniture Company (Holland, Michigan, founded 1951). Child's Cabinet, from the series Swingline, designed 1952. Lacquered Masonite and birch. 31 3/4 × 33 × 17 1/2 in. (80.65 × 83.82 × 44.45 cm). Purchase, with funds from the Demmer Charitable Trust M2015.85a,b. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.