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Tokyo Communication Arts

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
On white ground, six differently colored, mostly overlapping, slightly irregular squares are scattered. From the upper right corner to the bottom right corner the squares are yellow, green, red, pink, dark green, and purple. In an empty space to the right of center, is a bee (IBM logo) composed of four black stripes, two black circles and wings composed of Benday dots in rectangles. Printed in black ink, lower right: Tokyo / Communication / Arts / Osaka / Communication / Arts

Anuran Communication

Smithsonian Libraries

Communication Design

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Chip Kidd Recognized for his innovative work in both in the design and literary worlds, Chip Kidd has been creating book jackets for Alfred A. Knopf for over twenty years. His work has been honored by international awards and has helped spark a revolution in the art of American book packaging. Working in close collaboration...

Communication Design

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Paula Scher For four decades, Paula Scher has been at the forefront of graphic design. Iconic, smart, and accessible, her images have entered into the American vernacular. Known for her reimagining of typography as a communicative medium, she has said, “Words have meaning and type has feeling. When you put them together it’s spectacular.” Scher...

Communication & Print

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Abstract design of Japanese Face.

Communication Design

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
GeoffMcFetridge00_Portrait-368_745x456Geoff McFetridge Geoff McFetridge is a graphic designer and artist based in Los Angeles, California. Through his design studio, Champion Graphics, McFetridge has created works for international brands, Hollywood films, and local bike shops that have a uniquely human touch. He has taken a singular and entrepreneurial approach to design that values looking inward more...

Communication [April]

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Communication Design

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Tobias Frere-Jones Tobias Frere-Jones is one of the world’s leading typeface designers, creating some of the most widely used typefaces, including Interstate, Poynter Oldstyle, Whitney, Gotham, Surveyor, Tungsten, and Retina. He started designing letterforms in 1986 at the age of sixteen and became a professional type designer in 1990. He has taught type design at...

Communication Design

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Jennifer Morla Jennifer Morla established San Francisco–based Morla Design in 1984 as a multi-disciplinary studio and has since continued to pair wit and elegance on everything from motion graphics and branding to retail environments and textiles. Morla has created design programs for Levi’s, Design Within Reach, and the Mexican Museum. She has been honored with...

Communication Design

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Civilization Civilization was founded by Michael Ellsworth, Corey Gutch, and Gabriel Stromberg in Seattle. Since the studio’s inception in 2007, it has built identity systems, digital experiences, printed materials, environmental graphics, and exhibitions that are engaging, empathetic, sustainable, and create meaningful connections. Working with those committed to creating positive change, the studio’s clients include the...

AV Communication Panel

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Communication System, Personal, Apollo

National Air and Space Museum
This is part of the communications system established for use by an astronaut while on the lunar surface. It was worn inside the spacesuit, located in a cotton belt attached to the astronaut's undergarments.

This particular unit was used for training purposes only.

DISEÑO | Communication Design

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
This is the third event in our DISEÑO series, which focuses on design and Latino Identity. Join us for a discussion of communication design, featuring four leaders in the field reflecting on their visual communication practices! Panelists include Armin Vit (UnderConsideration LLC), Gabriela Mirensky (Faculty, SVA, New York and UDEM, Monterrey, Mexico), Rafael Esquer (Alfalfa Studio), and moderator Rebeca Méndez (Professor, UCLA Design Media Arts). DISEÑO is a partnership between Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and El Museo del Barrio. This program received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Communication and Print

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Printed at upper middle: COMMUNICATION & PRINT; lower middle: Tokyo Madrid. Large circle divided into four sections of blue, pink and orange; surrounded by a semicircular rainbow.

Mine Rescue Communication System

National Museum of American History

Mine Rescue Communication System

National Museum of American History

Mine Rescue Communication System

National Museum of American History

Man With Communication Equipment

National Air and Space Museum
Man with Communication Equipment. A man is walking toward the right with communication devices on his head and on his back. No background is detailed but some curved marks are on the left and a rough circle is on the lower right. The artist placed an 'X' on top of the man.

Double-sided, A19760553000 is on the reverse side.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

2018 NDA Communication Design: Civilization

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Civilization is the 2018 Winner of the National Design Award for Communication Design. Video courtesy of RadicalMedia

Transportation, Communication, and U.S. Production

National Museum of American History
To understand American business history, follow the trends. See how America was settled over time, how people moved from farms to cities, how gross national product grew, how stocks went up and down, and how income was distributed. One thing is certain: in business, things constantly change. This video is featured in the "Constant Change" section of the American Enterprise exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Section link: americanhistory.si.edu/american-enterprise-exhibition/videos/constant-change Exhibition link: americanhistory.si.edu/american-enterprise

Mass Communication of Complicated Issues

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
The title, Mass Communication of Complicated Issues, is repeated in overlapping black and red block text against a white background. At lower center two columns of text give information on the seminar and participants.

duct for underground communication cable

National Museum of American History

Specimen of underground communication cable

National Museum of American History
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