Research Library

A clean white room with ornate gold sconces, a large mirror and fireplace, new white desks and rolling chairs, bookshelf and large windows. Three women sit at one of the tables, with books out, chatting.

About

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s Library is a branch of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and contains more than 80,000 volumes, including books, periodicals, catalogs, and trade literature dating from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. About 30% of the collection including all rare book materials are maintained on site.

Volumes cover American and European design and decorative arts with concentrations in architecture, graphic design, interior design, ornamental patterns, furniture, wallcoverings, textiles, metalwork, glass, ceramics, and jewelry. The library’s special collections include early editions on design process; sample books and works on materials; and resources on material culture.

Special strengths:

  • Rare book collection containing more than 8,000 volumes
  • World’s Fair collection containing over 1,000 items (books, journals, guides, ephemera)
  • Pop-up and movable books collection with more than 1,700 titles
  • M. Therese Bonney collection of 4,300 black and white photographs of architecture and design in Paris, 1925-39
  • Kubler Collection with more than 60,000 engravings documenting event and life in the 19th and early 20th century.

Learn More

Learn about the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Library’s services and collection on the Smithsonian Libraries website.

Search the SIL catalog to see results from all twenty of the specialized research libraries within the Smithsonian Institution.

Special Collections

Crystal Fixtures from Large Binder 74, Page 2 in the E. F. Caldwell & Co. Collection

Crystal fixture from Large Binder 74, Page 2 in the E. F. Caldwell & Co. Collection

Edward F. Caldwell Lighting Collection

The 13,000 drawings and more than 50,000 photographs contained in the Edward F. Caldwell Lighting Collection clearly document taste and style in the United States in the affluent 1890s. During this period, when European models defined what was beautiful or tasteful, Edward F. Caldwell and Victor F. von Lossberg founded Caldwell & Company, designers of custom lighting fixtures in New York. The company created lighting and decorative ironwork for many private homes and prominent buildings in New York City, including Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Waldorf-Astoria. With his friend Stanford White, who helped him establish his successful career, Caldwell catered to the most privileged people, creating lighting for the Andrew Carnegie mansion (now the home of the National Design Museum) and the 1902 Taft White House. The company became the foundry for Tiffany & Company.

Thérèse M. Bonney Collection

A collection of 4,300 rare and unique photographs that document architecture and design in Paris, 1925-39. The collection includes images of window display and design marketing, industrial design -lighting & furniture, architecture, and interior design. It also includes other applied arts such as porcelain, textiles, costumes, and wallpaper.

CONTACT

Phone: (212) 849-8330
Fax: (212) 849-8339

HOURS

Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Closed on Federal holidays.

The Library and Archives are open to the public by appointment.

LOCATION

Miller-Fox Townhouses adjacent to the museum, with access at 9 East 90th Street.

Featured Image: Arthur Ross South Reading Room