Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America

September 28, 2018–January 6, 2019
Baker/Rowland Galleries

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 with the Denver Art Museum

Related Rotations

UWM Design Challenge

September 28, 2018–January 6, 2019
Kohl’s Art Generation Studio

See toy models designed and constructed by students in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning program at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. The students took inspiration from the designers represented in Serious Play.

Sponsored by: Brady Corporation Foundation

ACSA Portmanteau Designs: Play with the Rules

October 11–November 4, 2018
Baumgartner Galleria

Explore design proposals, which in execution are the scale of a portmanteau (or carry-on suitcase), submitted to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) for its fall conference “Play with the Rules.”

Presenting Sponsors:

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

Artworks | National Endowment for the Arts Brady Herman Miller Cares
Supporting Sponsors: In Memory of L. William (Bill) Teweles BSI Melinda and Ken Krei The Terri and Verne Holoubek Family Foundation Anonymous
  • Ray Eames with the first prototype of The Toy, 1950. © Eames Office LLC (