Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics
This exhibition started on December 10, 2021 and is on display until February 20, 2023.
There were 73 objects in this exhibition but right now we can only show you 70 of them. Some objects may not be viewable because they were on loan; this might be due to issues involving image rights or simply because there is no digitized image for the objects.
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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.
Epidemics, both in the past and in the present, have prompted the discovery of new ways to treat and prevent disease. Ideas launched to fight illness—such as introducing natural ventilation or wearing masks—can have lasting impacts on daily life.
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.
Equity is essential to a healthy world—helping communities and individuals survive, heal, and plan for the future. Ultimately, technological solutions are only effective if they reach everyone. Masks and vaccines help prevent disease when people use them. Assisted-breathing devices help patients survive when health care workers have the capacity to operate them. Fighting an epidemic requires courage, cooperation, and resource-sharing on a global scale.