A Tour of Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America

InHaus Presents A Tour of  Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America

Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Time: 5:30 pm-8:00 pm
Happy Hour at neighboring Leven Deli, 123 W. 12th Ave.
DAM and exhibition open at 6:15pm.
6:30pm Darrin Alfred to lead a tour of the exhibition.
Event ends at 8:00pm.
Location: Denver Art Museum, Hamilton Building, Level 2
Pricing: Free for CultureHaus members and one guest
Additional Information: Street Parking Available


Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America presents the concept of playfulness in postwar American design as a catalyst for creativity and innovation. This exhibition will explore how employing playfulness allowed designers to bring fresh ideas to the American home, children’s toys and play spaces, and corporate identities.

During the 1950s and ’60s, a number of factors came together to make this bold design innovation possible. Diverse materials and manufacturing techniques opened up possibilities for new approaches to design and larger-scale production. Larger disposable income and leisure time of a growing middle class offered more possibilities for designers to help Americans discover a new way of living at home through thoughtfully designed objects. An emerging focus on child development prompted an interest in children’s furniture and placed a fresh emphasis on the importance of smart toy design. Pervasive Cold War anxiety created a desire to bring positivity and escapism into everyday spaces. Architects and designers that took advantage of all these new opportunities thrived.

Co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum, the exhibition includes over 200 works in various media, ranging from works on paper, models, textiles, furniture, and ceramics to films, toys, playground equipment, and product design. Organized around three themes—the American home, child’s play, and corporate approaches to design—the exhibition encourages visitors to consider how design connects to their daily lives.

Join us for happy hour at 5:30 p.m. at Leven Deli, 123 W. 12th Ave. We’ll head over to the DAM around 6:15 p.m. for the private tour which will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free for CultureHaus members plus one guest.

We look forward to seeing you!

Herbert Bayer’s Kaleidoscreen installed in Aspen, Colorado, about 1957. Herbert Bayer Collection and Archive, Denver Art Museum. Photograph courtesy Denver Art Museum

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America is co-organized by the Denver Art Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum. It is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Melinda and Ken Krei are supporting sponsors of Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America in Milwaukee. The presentation in Denver is generously supported by the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support at the Denver Art Museum is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4, Comcast Spotlight, and The Denver Post.