National Design Library

Members’ Tour | Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library

Open to Design Watch Members and above. Cooper-Hewitt's National Design Library, formerly housed in the Carnegie Mansion, inhabits a beautifully renovated space in the Museum's main administrative buildings at 9 East 90th Street. Join Stephen Van Dyk, Smithsonian Institution Library’s Art Department Head, for this special tour highlighting works from its collection that includes 80,000 volumes, 4,500 trade catalogues, several picture collections, and approximately 1,700 pop-up books.
National Design Library, tour, Design Watch, membership event

Eventbrite - Members’ Tour | Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library

Discover Architecture- Carry A Magnet!

On a long ago walking tour of downtown New York, I was charmed and mystified to see people pulling refrigerator magnets or little alphabet letters out of their pockets and having them cling to the deceptively ordinary front of a building! They stuck!
Cast iron architecture, Daniel Badger, Architectural Iron Works of the city of New York, Illustrations of iron architecture, Soho Cast Iron District, cast iron, Smithsonian Libraries, National Design Library

Lost Tribes

As an undergraduate at Oxford University, Irish antiquarian Lord Kingsborough (1795-1837) became fascinated by the Bodleian Library’s collection of Mesoamerican codices. These vividly illustrated manuscripts painted on animal hide or tree bark were created in the 15th and early 16th by the scribes and priests of Mexico and Central America chronicling the histories, religious beliefs, and scientific knowledge of their ancient civilizations.
Antiquities of Mexico, Viscount Edward King Kingsborough, Smihtsonian Libraries, National Design Library, Mexican paintings and hieroglyphics, Indians of Mexico, Lost tribes of Israel

Art Deco: Cubism and Classical Tradition

If  c.1900 - 1914 the international avant-garde held sway over the cultural life of Paris, the period immediately following World War I -- often referred to as the "return to order" --  saw a renewal of French cultural values -- that is, "tradition" and, of course, "Classicism."  When these values in design were touched by the lingering spirit of the avant-garde, the result was one of the most successful and admired styles of the 20th century:  Art Deco.
Terry Ryan, Art Deco, Louis Sue, Andre Mare, Architectures, National Design Library, Cubism, La Compagnie dea Arts Francais, Paul Valery

Back in the USSR

This extremely rare trade catalog from 1940, in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library, represents the output of 10 state-owned ceramics factories from all over the Ukraine in small towns and villages after industry was nationalized in 1918.
Ukraine, ceramics, tableware, prpoganda, Smithsonian Libraries, political symbols, folk art, embroidery, Soviet Union, National Design Library

Bound to be Beautiful

One of the treasures of our collection, Wine Women and Song, has a fascinating history. This elaborately bound first edition of John Addington Symond’s 1884 English translation of 13th-century medieval drinking songs was produced in England in 1907 by bookbinders Sangorski & Sutcliffe, renowned for their intricate bindings ornamented with gilt work and precious stones.
rare books, book bindings, guilding, tooled leather, Arts & Crafts, wine, grapes, grape leaves, luxury, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, medieval songs, National Design Library

American Gothic

This trade catalog, which contains more than 100 photographs of furniture in the “modern" gothic style, is one of the only remaining works to visually document the furniture designed by the renowned New York cabinetmakers, Kimbel & Cabus. Anthony Kimbel emigrated from Germany in the late 1840s and partnered with Anton Bembe to form Bembe and Kimbel in 1854, creating furniture in the Rococo-revival style.
Kimbel & Cabus, furniture, Neo-Gothic, trade catalog, American, National Design Library

I Read It in a Magazine

No one can resist flipping through the pages of a magazine—in waiting rooms, while traveling, or anywhere. One that I love to browse through, and one that is popular among our library’s users, is the “women’s magazine,” Modern Priscilla (1887-1930). Originally focused on dress patterns, china painting, and needlework, the magazine’s scope was subsequently enlarged to cover other aspects of women's home life.
magazines, Periodicals, Modern Priscilla, Fortune magazine, Smithsonian Libraries, illustration, graphic design, National Design Library

Dots, Dots, Dots

De la loi du contraste des couleurs, by French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889), is a compendium of color design principles and one of the first systematic studies of color perception. The manual is based on Chevreul’s observations and experiments when he was Director of Dyes at the Manufacture des Gobelins tapestry works in 1824. Soon after his appointment, he received complaints about the lack of intensity in the tapestry colors at the manufactory.
colors, color perception, color theory, Michel-Eugène Chevreul, books, National Design Library

Fair Women

Art and Handicraft in the Women’s Building of the World’s Columbian Exposition, edited by Maud Howe Elliot (1854-1948), noted author and daughter of anti-slavery activist Julia Ward Howe, consists of 30 articles by women on work and issues related to women as celebrated in the Women’s Building at the Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. 
world's fair, Sophia Hayden, Alice C. Morse, World's Columbian Exposition Chicago 1893, Maud Howe Elliot, books, National Design Library