Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Reopens After Three-Year Makeover

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Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Reopens After Three-Year Makeover

At 2 East 91st Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side sits the Andrew Carnegie Mansion. The industrial legend and steel king built the 64-room home in 1903 and lived there until his death in 1919; his wife, Louise, lived there until her death in 1946. True to Carnegie’s pioneering spirit, the Georgian style mansion was the first private residence in the U.S. with a steel frame, the first home in New York to feature an Otis elevator, and among the first with an early form of air conditioning.

Today the Andrew Carnegie Mansion embodies Carnegie’s pursuit of functional and innovative design as home of the newly renovated Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. The museum was established in 1897 as a “practical working laboratory” for visitors to learn about “the arts of decoration.” It became part of the Smithsonian in 1967, and moved into the mansion in 1976.

In December 2014, the Cooper Hewitt reopened to the public after a privately funded, $91 million renovation project. The museum’s visionary team rethought and reimagined the museum experience for the digital age. At the old Cooper Hewitt, visitors were viewers; at the new Cooper Hewitt, they’re users.

Cooper Hewitt Users

“Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the collection digitally on ultra high definition touch-screen tables, draw their own designs in the Immersion Room and solve real design problems in The Process Lab,” museum director Caroline Baumann said.

The museum is now showing 10 inaugural exhibitions. In the Immersion Room, interior design enthusiasts can browse Cooper Hewitt’s vast collection of wallpaper (the largest in the U.S.) using a stylus-like “Pen” to choose and project different designs onto the walls around them. “The Pen,” which is given to all visitors upon entrance, can also be used to retrieve details on museum pieces and add them to your personal online collection.

Cooper Hewitt Pen slider

The Process Lab offers the opportunity to solve functional design problems and share your solutions on large interactive touch-screen tables, while the 6,000-square-foot exhibition, Tools: Extending Our Reach explores 1.85 million years of human creativity in tool use and design. The ground floor installation, Designing the New Cooper Hewitt Museum walks visitors through the process behind the museum’s three-year renovation, a project that involved 13 design firms from around the world and increased gallery space by 60 percent, according to am New York.

Cooper Hewitt Process 2001 Cooper Hewitt Immersion 2001

The new-look Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is a must-visit for New Yorkers and tourists alike, especially those who work or are interested in any discipline relating to design. Click here to learn more on the museum’s website. Let us know how it is if you go!


Images courtesy of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum