Cooper Hewitt Explores The Future of Mobility in New Exhibition

"The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility" on View December 2018-March 2019
November 8, 2018
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Rendering for autonomous urbanism

Photorealistic rendering based off of concepts in the NACTO Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism. Copyright © 2017 Bloomberg Philanthropies. Reproduced with permission by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will present “The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility” exhibition Dec. 14 through March 31, 2019. Featuring 40 projects that explore salient topics around the future of mobility and the urban environment, the exhibition will be punctuated with six provocations and a selection of design responses that reimagine livable streets and the way people, goods and services will move in a new age of connected and transformational mobility.

Organized by Cara McCarty, the museum’s director of curatorial; Cynthia E. Smith, curator of socially responsible design; and Julie Pastor, curatorial assistant, “The Road Ahead” addresses the fundamental question: how do people want to live? On view in the third-floor Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery, the exhibition examines accessibility, equity, trust, safety and security; the efficient movement and delivery of freight; smart infrastructure; and the use of sidewalks and curb sharing. These challenges present a critical opportunity to pursue a new user-centered vision for streets and infrastructure to create more livable, inclusive and equitable cities, with services, ride-sharing and mass-transit solutions that minimize greenhouse gases and address the users’ needs.  

“‘The Road Ahead’ points to several possible futures for our cities and asks audiences to consider how design will improve and expand options for urban transport,” said Cooper Hewitt Director Caroline Baumann. “Inviting our visitors to consider and creatively think about the possible outcomes provided by the revolutionary new technologies on the horizon—from grocery-delivering robots to autonomous shuttle services—the exhibition encourages public engagement in the civic dialogue needed to ensure that new designs for mobility are sustainable, equitable and life-improving for all.”

Visitors will be welcomed by “Sounds of the Future City,” an immersive sound experience created by Arup, which speculates on how cities might sound in the future as new technologies arrive in the public space. Additional works on view include Starship’s self-driving delivery robot; Zipline’s autonomous delivery drone; Höweler + Yoon’s Shareway concept for efficient mobility networks; FXCollaborative’s Public Square model for greener, more walkable and lively public space; Waymo’s sensing technology for autonomous vehicles to navigate roads safely; and Local Motors’ Accessible Olli, an autonomous shuttle accessible to people with physical and cognitive disabilities.

A selection of historic examples from Cooper Hewitt’s collection and the Smithsonian Design Library will highlight past visions of mobility, including a 1955 concept-car drawing from the office of General Motors and a 1939 booklet documenting the Futurama exhibit and ride at the New York World’s Fair.

“The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility” is made possible in part by support from the Ehrenkranz Fund, Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery Endowment Fund, Lily Auchincloss Foundation Inc. and the August Heckscher Exhibition Fund.

Exhibition Design

“The Road Ahead” is designed by Matter Architecture Practice. Exhibition graphics by Pure + Applied.

Public Programming

This winter, a series of educational programs will engage audiences of all ages in conversations and workshops about future mobility scenarios and how they might impact quality of life. Programs include curator-led tours, an intergenerational Morning at the Museum, evening panel discussions, a critique of university-level student projects, and professional development programs for educators. Visit for registration details.

About Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt is America’s design museum. Inclusive, innovative and experimental, the museum’s dynamic exhibitions, education programs, master’s program, publications and online resources inspire, educate and empower people through design. An integral part of the Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum and research complex—Cooper Hewitt is located on New York City’s Museum Mile in the historic, landmark Carnegie Mansion. Steward of one of the world’s most diverse and comprehensive design collections—over 210,000 objects that range from an ancient Egyptian faience cup dating to about 1100 BCE to contemporary 3D-printed objects and digital code—Cooper Hewitt welcomes everyone to discover the importance of design and its power to change the world. Cooper Hewitt knits digital into experiences to enhance ideas, extend reach beyond museum walls, and enable greater access, personalization, experimentation and connection. In 2018, the London Design Biennale awarded a medal to Cooper Hewitt for its presentation “Face Values,” an immersive installation that explores the pervasive but often hidden role of facial-detection technology in contemporary society.

Cooper Hewitt is located at 2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue in New York City. Hours are Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, accessible without an admissions ticket, opens at 8 a.m., Monday through Friday. The Tarallucci e Vino café is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Public transit routes include the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 subways (86th or 96th Street stations), the Second Avenue Q subway (96th Street station), and the Fifth and Madison Avenue buses. Adult admission, $16 in advance via, $18 at door; seniors, $10 in advance via, $12 at door; students, $7 in advance via, $9 at door. Cooper Hewitt members and children younger than age 18 are admitted free. Pay What You Wish every Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m. The museum is fully accessible.

For further information, call (212) 849-8400, visit Cooper Hewitt’s website at and follow the museum on, and

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