Posters from the Exhibitions Collection

Fri, Mar 24, 2023 5pm - Sun, Apr 30, 2023 5pm

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Graphic adapted from George Sadek's poster design for Education of an Architect: A Point of View (1971)


Installation view, Posters from the Exhibitions Collection. Photo by Maeve FitzHoward.


Installation view, Posters from the Exhibitions Collection. Photo by Maeve FitzHoward.


Installation view, Posters from the Exhibitions Collection. Photo by Maeve FitzHoward.

For over five decades, the School of Architecture’s exhibition program has bridged pedagogy and public service by enriching The Cooper Union’s curriculum and serving New York City’s design community. This diverse, influential program encompasses over 200 exhibitions and attendant publications featuring the work of celebrated architects, artists, and designers, as well as Cooper’s faculty and students. It includes major exhibitions, typically held twice a year in the School’s Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery—a dedicated gallery in the Foundation Building curated by the Architecture Archive—and the 41 Cooper Gallery, located in the academic building at 41 Cooper Square. 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. 
The Archive’s exhibitions collection documents this longstanding program extensively and in detail. Collection records, which date from the mid-1960s, include analog and born-digital curatorial files, promotional material, photographs, and catalogs. In 2021 the School received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, to catalog, digitize, and enable broad public access to the collection. This exhibition, which presents thirty-three posters from the early 1970s to the present, is the first in a series of three hallway shows dedicated to sharing material from the collection prior to the launch of its web-based platform in the fall of 2024. Just as posters are preludes to the shows they promote, this exhibition anticipates more detailed presentations of the collection’s records to come.
These records document exhibitions spanning a broad range of subjects and disciplines, many with a lasting impact. Coming to Light (2005), which examined Louis Kahn’s unbuilt design from 1974 for the Four Freedoms Park memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, was instrumental in reviving longstanding efforts to construct the park, completed on Roosevelt Island in 2012. A recent exhibition on Costantino Nivola—a celebrated but underrepresented Sardinian sculptor—has prompted renewed interest in showing and preserving his work, including a subsequent exhibition at the Magazzino Italian Art museum and acquisitions by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA. 
Several exhibitions address the School’s curriculum, drawing extensively from the Archive’s Student Work Collection. The annual End-of-Year Show, a public exhibition curated by faculty and students from the Architecture and Art schools that occupies much of the Foundation Building for three weeks each May and June, is also well-documented in the collection. End-of-Year Shows highlight exemplary student work across undergraduate and graduate design studios, drawing hundreds of students and faculty each year from local architecture schools. Student participation in the production and installation of exhibitions—from shows in Houghton Gallery to End-of-Year Shows—is an equally important component of the Archive’s mission and emblematic of the School’s design studio culture and its commitment to “learning by doing.” 

Open to Cooper Union students, faculty, and staff. 

Exhibitions and events presented by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.  

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  • 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.