Curatorial Team Named For Smithsonian Design Triennial

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced that the next Smithsonian Design Triennial, set to open in fall 2024, will be organized by Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, curator of contemporary design and Hintz Secretarial Scholar at Cooper Hewitt; Christina L. De Leon, associate curator of Latino design at Cooper Hewitt; and Michelle Joan Wilkinson, curator of architecture and design at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Focused on diverse contemporary perspectives on home, “Home — Smithsonian Design Triennial” marks the first time curators from two Smithsonian museums will collaborate on this flagship exhibition series.

“For more than 20 years, Cooper Hewitt’s signature Design Triennials have provided a rare opportunity to stop and take stock of contemporary design topics that are in need of a deeper, more urgent, public discussion,” said Maria Nicanor, director of Cooper Hewitt. “Past Design Triennials have served as calls for action, as surveys of specific contemporary trends or as moments of reflection, connecting past with future and pointing toward futures realized in the present. We are thrilled to collaborate with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in this upcoming Design Triennial to complete our stellar curatorial team with Alexandra, Christina and Michelle and their many exhibition partners as they explore the multiple meanings of home, housing and habitat in our country.”

The Design Triennial series was established in 2000 to address the most urgent and relevant topics of the current time through a design lens. This seventh iteration of the Design Triennial will examine the state of home across the U.S., U.S. Territories and Tribal Nations, inviting audiences into a conversation about this country, its value systems, people and landscapes. The exhibition and its associated programs will address a wide range of themes, including shelter and security; family, labor and the domestic sphere; diaspora and migration; colonialism and American imperialism; climate change and ecosystems; and aesthetics and culture.

About the Curatorial Team

Cameron is curator of contemporary design and Hintz Secretarial Scholar at Cooper Hewitt. She organized the award-winning “Willi Smith: Street Couture” exhibition in 2020 and British-Nigerian designer Duro Olowu’s “Selects” in 2022. Cameron has brought cross-disciplinary works by Tschabalala Self, Dondi White, Amanda Williams, Martha Goddard and others into Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection while co-chairing the museum’s Responsive Collecting Initiative. Formerly an independent curator, editor in chief of the arts journal The Miami Rail and creative director of the Design Miami/fairs, Cameron has initiated a wide range of publications and programs as well as exhibitions and public works with artists and designers such as Aranda\Lasch and Terrol Dew Johnson, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Yona Friedman, Dozie Kanu, Philippe Malouin and Muller van Severen.

De León is the inaugural associate curator of Latino design and currently serves as the acting deputy director of curatorial at Cooper Hewitt. Since 2017, she has grown the museum’s collection of U.S. Latino and Latin American design, while also organizing exhibitions, public programs and bilingual digital content. In 2021, De León produced the museum’s first feature-length documentary film, Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands, which has screened widely internationally. At Cooper Hewitt, she has collaborated with artists on exhibitions such as “Rebeca Méndez Selects” and “Nature by Design: Cochineal.” She has also acquired works for the permanent collection by Tanya Aguiñiga, Daniela Villegas, Olga de Amaral and Edgardo Giménez, among others. From 2010 to 2016, De León was associate curator at Americas Society where she organized exhibitions and publications focused on modern and contemporary Latin American art.

Wilkinson, Ph.D., is a curator at Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), where she is building the museum’s collections in architecture and design. Wilkinson co-curated two inaugural exhibitions at NMAAHC and was the convener of the museum’s three-day symposium, “Shifting the Landscape: Black Architects and Planners, 1968 to Now.” As director of collections and exhibitions at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture from 2007 to 2014, Wilkinson curated over 20 exhibitions, including the critically acclaimed “A People’s Geography: The Spaces of African American Life,” and two award-winning shows: “For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People” and “Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists.” She has worked for the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Wilkinson was a 2020 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.