Ellen Lupton Is Cooper Hewitt Curator Emerita

30 Years Of Introducing People To Importance of Design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced that Ellen Lupton has received the honorary designation as curator emerita to celebrate the conclusion of her tenure as senior curator of contemporary design. Throughout her 30-year career at Cooper Hewitt, Lupton’s exhibitions, lectures and publications have covered every aspect of design – from broad concepts of typography to practical elements of everyday life. The honorary designation acknowledges Lupton’s decision to continue exploring and advancing contemporary design matters through her teaching, writing, workshops and lectures.

“Over the last 30 years, Ellen has played a pivotal role in introducing and educating a broad spectrum of people to the importance of design in our lives,” says Matilda McQuaid, acting curatorial director. “As a gifted curator and author, Ellen has organized many prescient exhibitions and publications, and her extraordinarily popular workshops and public programs attest to her generosity and inspiration as an educator.”

Among the milestones of Lupton’s tenure at the museum are: 22 exhibitions with insightful commentaries on contemporary culture and a clear understanding of the design process; 34 published books on design history and studio practice; workshops, lectures and seminars; and her advice on many graphic design acquisitions for the Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design department.

Prior to joining Cooper Hewitt in 1992, Lupton served as curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at The Cooper Union, where she organized exhibitions and related publications on graphic design. Her bachelor’s degree is from Cooper Union and doctorate is in communication design from the University of Baltimore.

Alongside her work at Cooper Hewitt, Lupton also serves as the Betty Cooke and William O. Steinmetz Design Chair at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. In 2003, she launched MICA’s Graphic Design MFA program after serving as chair of the undergraduate program from 1997 to 2002. Lupton has been recognized with notable international awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, inducted 2019; Alliance Graphique Internationale, inducted 2016; and the AIGA Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement, 2007.