The 2019 exhibition will expand on the curatorial theme in a tangible way by inviting architects and designers to create outdoor installations and experiences that use Columbus’ built heritage as inspiration and context, while highlighting the role that a visionary community plays in growing a vibrant, sustainable, and equitable city.

The 2019 exhibition will include five Miller Prize Installations, five Washington Street Installations, six University Design Research Fellowships, and the Columbus High School Design Team from Bartholomew County School Corporation’s C4 Program. The entire exhibition will be tied together with a dynamic wayfinding and graphic design system by Thirst. These 18 projects will activate downtown Columbus for more than three months in the fall of 2019.

As a source of inspiration for the 2018-19 cycle of programming, Exhibit Columbus looked to the 1986 exhibition, Good Design in the Community: Columbus, Indiana. This exhibition was mounted by the National Building Museum when local businessman and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller became the first living American inducted into the Museum’s Hall of Fame. This award honored the Miller family’s legacy of servant leadership and the entire city’s commitment to making Columbus the best community of its size.

When profiled by the Washington Post that year, Mr. Miller chose to emphasize the community’s involvement in building, rather than the architecture itself, as a source of his hometown pride, declaring “Architecture is something you can see. You can’t see a spirit or a temperament or a character, though, and there’s an invisible part of this community that I’m very proud of because, in a democracy, I think that the process is more important than the product.” Elaborating on the connection between the built environment and the intangible culture that Mr. Miller described, Exhibit Columbus is exploring what the notion of “good design in the community” means today.

Architecture is something you can see. You can’t see a spirit or a temperament or a character, though, and there’s an invisible part of this community that I’m very proud of because, in a democracy, I think that the process is more important than the product.


– J. Irwin Miller