Following the acquisition of the Fiat 500 by The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2017, the specimen will be on public display at the Museum for the first time from February 10 to May 27, 2019, as a highlight of ‘The Value of Good Design‘, an exhibition drawn from MoMA’s collection of industrial design.
Featuring objects from domestic furnishings and appliances to ceramics, glass, electronics, transport design, sporting goods, toys, and graphics, ‘The Value of Good Design‘ explores the democratizing potential of design, beginning with MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s through the 1950s, which championed well-designed, affordable contemporary products. The exhibition also raises questions about what Good Design might mean today, and whether values from mid-century can be translated and redefined for a 21st-century audience. Visitors are invited to judge for themselves by trying out a few ‘good design’ classics still in production, and exploring how, through its design stores, MoMA continues to incubate new products and ideas in an international marketplace.
Through its design and centrality to the story of mid-century Italy, the 500 embodies many of the principles that typified mid-century modernist design and connects it to themes explored in works throughout the Museum’s collection. The model on display will be a 500 F series, the most popular 500 ever. The car, designed by Dante Giacosa and launched in 1957, is a clear expression of form following function, a logical and economical use of materials, and a belief that quality design should be accessible to all. A compact, rear-engined city car, the 500 was conceived as an economical car for the masses. Despite its small exterior dimensions, Giacosa’s design maximized interior volume, resulting in a surprisingly spacious interior that could accommodate four passengers. The standard-feature foldable fabric roof imbued this economy car with a sense of luxury while simultaneously reducing the amount of steel – a precious commodity at the time – necessary to produce the car.
“While the Fiat 500 has unquestionably left its mark on automotive history, it is equally true that it has never been just a car,” said Olivier François, Head of Fiat Brand and Chief Marketing Officer FCA. “In its 60 years of history, the 500 has transcended its material manifestation to enter the collective imagination and become an icon, which has now the honour of being certified by being acquired by MoMA in a tribute to its artistic and cultural value.”