Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Announces the Completion of the Capital Campaign for the RE:DESIGN

Release Date: 
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Announces the Completion of the Capital Campaign for the RE:DESIGN

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum today announced that it has completed its $54 million RE:DESIGN capital campaign goal and commenced renovating the Carnegie Mansion to create enlarged and enhanced facilities for exhibitions, collections display and education programming.

The museum also announced today the completion of the renovation of the museum’s two townhouses on East 90th Street, which house the National Design Library, the Master’s Program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design and administrative offices. Students, design professionals and the public can now benefit from the modernized National Design Library located in the townhouses, with restored historic reading and study areas, as well as reference spaces, open stacks and a rare-book room.

In addition, the museum completed the outfitting of an off-site facility that includes collection storage, a state-of-the-art conservation lab, a fully equipped photography studio and a collection study room for curators, students and scholars. This facility will permit Cooper-Hewitt to grow its collection with fewer space constraints, improve collection care and research, and digitize the collection. It will be accessible to the public, by appointment.

“We are very grateful to campaign co-chairs Harvey Krueger and Michael Francis for their leadership of the capital campaign and to the museum’s trustees for their commitment to this ambitious project,” said Paul Herzan, chairman of the board. “To be embarking on the transformation of the Carnegie Mansion with all the funding secured is a huge achievement.”

“The RE:DESIGN campaign is the largest initiative in Cooper-Hewitt’s history, and its success is the result of the participation and collaboration of a great many individuals and organizations,” said Harvey Krueger, campaign co-chairman. “We deeply appreciate the support we have received from within the Smithsonian Institution, and major contributions from the museum’s trustees, New York City, New York State and the many friends of the museum who believe in the importance of this project and have given so generously.”

New Public Spaces

Cooper-Hewitt’s renovation project focuses on adapting a 20th-century historic house to meet the needs of a 21st-century museum. The RE:DESIGN is a collaboration between design architect Gluckman Mayner Architects and executive architect Beyer Blinder Belle. The project also involves a program of historic preservation, working within preservation parameters established by Beyer Blinder Belle, and will aim for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

The renovation project will increase Cooper-Hewitt’s exhibition space by 60 percent, as well as reconfigure conservation and collection-storage facilities. Through reprogramming of portions of the mansion and the adjacent townhouses, the project will increase the museum’s total exhibition space from approximately 10,000 square feet to 16,000 square feet.

Major components of the museum renovation include the following:

• A spectacular, new 6,000-square-foot gallery—the largest, most versatile gallery space in the museum—on the third floor
• Restored first-floor galleries providing an exciting interactive introduction to design
• Second-floor galleries expanded by converting existing office space to provide more room to showcase the museum’s collection and temporary exhibitions
• Restored historic features of the Carnegie Mansion, including exterior masonry restoration, wrought-iron fence and upgraded lighting and signage systems
• Expanded and upgraded facilities for exhibition preparation will accelerate the installation of new exhibitions, enabling the museum to remain open all 12 months, without long transition periods between exhibitions
• The intricate intertwining of new mechanical services and elevator and a new east public staircase that provides access to all four levels of galleries

“Through Cooper-Hewitt’s RE:DESIGN, the museum is raising its capacity to inform a larger audience about how design impacts every moment of our daily lives,” said Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. “The physical renovation allows for increased space for exhibitions, greater exposure of the museum’s permanent collection and expanded on-site public programming.”

“It is thrilling to see our vision for Cooper-Hewitt’s redesign becoming a reality,” said Bill Moggridge, director of the museum. “Restoring and transforming the Carnegie Mansion and elevating and expanding the museum’s online user experience will broadly increase access to the museum’s rich resources, scholarship and collections.”

“It is indeed a historic moment for Cooper-Hewitt, having reached this pinnacle of momentum and success,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the museum. “We are forging ahead to reconfigure the nation’s design museum physically and virtually, which will be a transformative experience for all.”

The Capital Campaign

The capital campaign, the largest in the museum’s history, supports three main goals: the renovation of the museum’s landmark facility, the development of the museum’s website and the growth of the endowment. Cooper-Hewitt has reached its $54 million goal for the renovation of the museum and has raised $7 million in endowment funds to support general operating expenses, education programs, exhibitions, collections and the website.

The City of New York, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Kate D. Levin, Commissioner; the New York City Council, Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, via the Manhattan Delegation; and the Office of Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer, are contributing grants totaling $8.8 million to the RE:DESIGN. New York State is providing a grant of $250,000. The Smithsonian Institution has provided more than $20 million toward the renovation costs.

“The City is pleased to play a role in this remarkable public-private partnership, which will welcome even more New Yorkers and visitors to experience Cooper-Hewitt’s world-class cultural offerings,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. “Following the completion of the townhouses renovation, the Carnegie Mansion restoration is another wonderful example of cultural construction projects transforming the historic Museum Mile into a 21st century destination.”

Leadership gifts have been received from Elizabeth and Lee Ainslie; the Lily Auchincloss Foundation Inc.; Congress of the United States; Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz; Patricia and Phillip Frost; Alice Gottesman; Connie and Harvey Krueger; Barbara and Morton Mandel; Nancy Marks; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in the form of a challenge grant; Enid and Lester Morse; the Arthur Ross Foundation; Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer; Esme Usdan and James Snyder; the Spoon Family; and Target.

Off-Site Programming

During the mansion renovation, Cooper-Hewitt’s usual schedule of exhibitions, education programs and events are being staged at various off-site locations, including “Design with the Other 90%: Cities,” currently on view at the United Nations through Jan. 9, 2012; the Enid and Lester Morse Historic Design Lecture Series at the University Club; Bill’s Design Talks at WNYC’s Greene Space; and the “Graphic Design: Now in Production” exhibition at Governors Island next summer.