The Museum of Arts and Design (“MAD”) explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. Accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1991, MAD focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to the digital.

For nearly half a century, MAD has served as the country’s premier institution dedicated to the collection and exhibition of contemporary objects created in media such as clay, glass, wood, metal, and fiber. The seed for MAD, however, was planted almost 70 years ago, when Aileen Osborn Webb—the nation’s premier craft patron and benefactor—established the American Craftsmen’s Council in 1942.

The Council’s original goal was to recognize the work of American craftspeople and to make the general public aware of the vitality that contemporary craft expression could bring to an age of machine-made products. In support of this goal, the Council created educational programs and competitions that promoted technical excellence among craftspeople and celebrated the beauty of the handmade object. The success of these programs revealed a need for a museum dedicated to contemporary American craft.

In 1956, and with Mrs. Webb’s continuing support, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts opened in a Victorian brownstone at 29 West 53rd Street. The inaugural exhibition, Craftsmanship in a Changing World, documented the emerging role of craft artists and their influence as teachers, production workers, designers, and architectural collaborators.



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