Serious Play

Design in Midcentury America

Ray Eames with the first prototype of The Toy, 1950. © Eames Office LLC (

Charles and Ray Eames, Eames Storage Unit (ESU) 400 series, about 1949. Birch plywood, laminated plywood, enameled Masonite, fiberglass, and enameled steel; 59 × 27 × 17 in. Manufactured by Herman Miller. Denver Art Museum: Funds, by exchange, from Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mitchell II, Calvina Morse Vaupel in memory of Calvin Henry Morse, Mrs. George Cranmer, Charles E. Stanton, Charles Bayly Jr. Collection, Mrs. Claude Boettcher, Dr. Charles F. Shollenberger, Mr. Ronald S. Kane, Frances Charsky, Dorothy Retallack, Mrs. Alfred B. Bell, Charles William Brand, Doris W. Pritchard, Mrs. F. H. Douglas, Mrs. Calista Struby Rees, and Jane Garnsey O'Donnell, 2017.208. © Eames Office LLC ( Photograph © Denver Art Museum

Irving Harper for George Nelson Associates, Sunflower clock, 1958. Lacquered wood, enameled aluminum, and enameled brass. Manufactured by Howard Miller Clock Company. Collection of William and Annette Dorsey. Photograph by John R. Glembin.

Charles and Ray Eames, House of Cards, publicity photo, 1952. © Eames Office LLC (

Eva Zeisel, Marmite bowl, salt, and pepper, 1953. Stoneware. Manufactured by Monmouth Pottery. Oil/vinegar bottle and gravy boat with ladle, 1964. Earthenware. Manufactured by Nihon Koshitsu Toki Company. Collection of Scott Vermillion. Photograph by Scott Vermillion.

Henry P. Glass, Swing-Line Toy Chest, 1952. Lacquered Masonite and birch; 31 3/4 × 33 × 17 1/2 in. Manufactured by Fleetwood Furniture Company. Milwaukee Art Museum: Purchase with funds from the Demmer Charitable Trust, M2015.85a,b. Photograph by John R. Glembin.

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

Ray Komai, Masks textile, 1948–49. Screenprint on cotton. Manufactured by Laverne Originals. Collection of Edgar Orlaineta. Photograph by Edgar Orlaineta.

For Members

Not a member? Join today to receive future invitations to exhibition previews, discounts on programming, FREE general admission for an entire year, and much more!

Learn More about Membership >>

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America is co-organized by the Denver Art Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum. It is generously funded by the Estate of Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, the Adolph Coors Exhibition Endowment Fund, Johnson Foundation of the Rockies, National Endowment for the Arts, the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Special thanks to Mod Livin’. Generous support for the Free Play Zone is provided by Herman Miller Cares. Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4, Comcast Spotlight, and The Denver Post.