Exhibitions Collection

Education of an Architect: A Point of View | 1972, Museum of Modern Art
Education of an Architect: A Point of View | 1972, Museum of Modern Art

This collection documents the School of Architecture’s diverse and influential exhibition program dating from the mid-1960s to the present, encompassing 219 exhibitions and 32 attendant publications. For over five decades, the School’s exhibitions have bridged pedagogy and public service by enriching The Cooper Union’s curriculum and serving New York City’s local and regional design community. 

The program is extensive and diverse, featuring the work of celebrated and emerging architects, designers, photographers, painters, builders, and sculptors, as well as faculty and students. It includes major exhibitions, typically held twice a year either in the School’s Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery or 41 Cooper Gallery. The School’s Third Floor Hallway Gallery hosts shorter, rotating shows focusing on work by new faculty, invited guests, and students, as well as material from the Archive’s collections. Several exhibitions address the school’s curriculum, drawing extensively from the Archive’s Student Work Collection. The Exhibition Collection also documents three decades of the School’s annual End-of-Year Show.

Collection material consists of 45 cu ft of analog records dating from 1965 – present, and 3.23 TB of born-digital records, dating from 1997 – present. These records correspond to four types of content: curatorial files (26 cu ft) that document the process of developing and producing exhibitions and catalogs, typically through correspondence, sketches, layouts, notes, etc.; promotional records (8 cu ft) that publicize exhibitions via press releases, posters, and fliers; photographs (10 cu ft/~6,500 items) that depict exhibition installations, events, and artwork; and catalogs (1 cu ft) that often accompanied exhibitions.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.