The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on Manhattan’s Museum Mile, is the only museum in the United States dedicated to historical and modern design. Fittingly enough, the museum has found a home in Andrew Carnegie’s former mansion. With its devotion to aesthetic, there are few better sites than the steel tycoon’s lavish Manhattan residence.
Founded in 1896, Cooper Hewitt is one of the nineteen museums of the Smithsonian Institution. Its collection consists of over 210,000 design objects spanning thirty centuries. These objects range from a chair used by Abraham Lincoln to vintage radios to 18th century kitchenware. As you explore, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the evolution of fashion and design. You’ll experience the intricacy of Neo-Classical design, the loud colors of the Jazz Age, the minimalism of the contemporary – and much more.
The museum is constantly expanding. Every year, more and more objects are added or passed through its growing collection. As such, the museum continuously hosts temporary exhibits. These exhibits are generally devoted to a specific period or style of design. For example, in 1980 the museum hosted an exhibit about the history and culture of the ocean-liner. In 1977 an exhibit was hosted about resort and motel architecture in the United States.
The collection at Cooper Hewitt is massive and there is very little that the museum will dismiss. For example, a cigarette case and computer mouse can be found on display as well as many other items that may seem surprising to be in a museum’s collection.
Inside, visitors are given an electronic pen, which enables them to mark objects they like and view them online after their visit. There is also an outdoor garden and in-house café. As the only museum of its kind in the country, the Cooper Hewitt Museum is a fascinating trip through the ages.