Designers are visual artisans who create functional works of
art. With the not-so-simple desire to create the world's most useful and
aesthetically pleasing life-enhancing products, industrial designer Earl
Tupper made an American cultural icon-Tupperware®. Columbus College of Art &
Design (CCAD) is proud to present Tupperware® Party: Past, Present, Future,
an exhibition that explores and celebrates this design product as functional
From January 25 through March 21, 2003 in CCAD's Canzani Center Acock
Gallery. Tupperware Party will include more than 50 years worth of
Tupperware designs and memorabilia. Tupperware products-including
Wonderlier® Bowls, Bell Tumblers, Jel-Ring® Molds and designs produced in
limited quantity and only represented in museum collections-will be
displayed in real-world settings designed for the gallery. Period
refrigerators and table settings will show the designs in the context of
their use, while the gallery space underscores their cultural and artistic
In addition to Tupperware products, CCAD's exhibition will include design
sketches, recipe cards, photographs, How-to-Sell guides, and other
promotional materials provided by the Smithsonian archives. This wealth of
material relates the design art objects to their place in
the American market and subsequently to American identity.
At a time when materialism was taking a new hold on the American consumers'
psyche, Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise created marketing and sales techniques
that have left in indelible mark. Noting that to sell Tupperware the buyer
must see it demonstrated, in 1948 Tupper and Wise gave birth to the
Tupperware Party-now a permanent part of America culture (not to mention the
Though the exhibition places a seemingly common object in a much broader
artistic and cultural context, the impetus to create this exhibition came
from a simple need to represent in CCAD's exhibitions programming the genius
and creativity of industrial design.
"Industrial design was generally underrepresented in our exhibitions
programs," said Director of Exhibitions Natalie Marsh. "When CCAD alumnus
Scott Miller (former industrial designer for Tupperware) approached me about
participating in our visiting artist program, his enthusiasm for his work
inspired me to think bigger. My research showed that Tupperware is generally
represented in exhibitions that explore industrial design or American
culture, but the product and its place in Americana is seldom the main focus
of a show-I saw a fascinating and fun educational opportunity."
To further explore the many influences of the Tupperware phenomena, CCAD
will host a panel discussion, "Parties Are the Answer!: Tupperware® Design,
Cultural History, and American Identity," January 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. In
addition, the exhibition is organized with hands-on activities to appeal to
children and tactile learners.
The Canzani Center is located in downtown Columbus, Ohio on the corner of
Cleveland Avenue and E. Gay Street (just south of the 100-foot-tall
sculpture spelling ART). Acock Gallery hours are daily from 10 a.m. until 6
p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
Tupperware® Party: Past, Present, Future, is made possible through the
generous support of the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts
Council, Key Bank, and the Junior League of Columbus. The "Parties Are the
Answer!: Tupperware® Design, Cultural History, and American Identity" panel
discussion is sponsored by Time Warner Cable, Kimball Midwest, and the
Ingram-White Castle Foundation.
Tupperware® Party is organized by CCAD and curated by Natalie Marsh, CCAD
Director of Exhibitions.
Series 1, Box 2,
Archives Center, National Museum of American History,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.