Design for the Rest of Us

Where Are Design Museums’ Benches?

In basketball, the bench is for the scrubs. In a courtroom, the bench is for the judge. In parks and subways, benches remain a common amenity. But after twenty years spent leaning against elegant vitrines or austere display cases, I’ve learned the hard way that in design exhibitions, benches are banished. It’s still easy enough to find a padded bench in the Metropolitan Museum’s Classical sculpture or Old Master paintings galleries, at the Museum of Natural History, or almost any exhibition space that’s not dedicated to design. But why, when it comes to public seating areas, do museums and galleries of design exhibit this kind of blind spot?