Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Announces Design Architect, Major Fundraising Milestone, and New Curatorial Appointment
Building on a year in which Cooper-Hewitt crossed new milestones with respect to visitation, public outreach, collections development and fiscal strength, Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum made three announcements about its expansion, capital campaign and curatorial leadership. The museum announced that Gluckman Mayner Architects will serve as design architect in the renovation of the museum’s campus. The renovation is part of a $43 million capital campaign to nearly double the museum’s exhibition space, enhance educational services, accommodate growth of the permanent collection and boost its endowment to support operating costs. To date, $21.5 million has been raised under the leadership of capital campaign co-chairs Michael Francis and Harvey Krueger. Cooper-Hewitt also announced the appointment of Cara McCarty as the museum’s new curatorial director.
“These three pivotal announcements highlight Cooper-Hewitt’s dynamic plans for a vibrant future,” said Director Paul Warwick Thompson. “The physical expansion, curatorial expertise and strong financial foundation will further strengthen Cooper-Hewitt’s role as the preeminent authority on the study of design in the United States.”
“Cooper-Hewitt’s success in growing visitation by 35 percent; developing collections-based exhibitions; broadening the scope and impact of its educational programming; and increasing board philanthropy are all indications of the museum’s strength and its promise for the future,” said Ned Rifkin, Under Secretary for Art.
“Cooper-Hewitt is a viable and essential part of the national trust. The Smithsonian’s commitment to Cooper-Hewitt remains strong now and in the future,” said Roger W. Sant, Chairman, Executive Committee, Smithsonian Board of Regents.
The Capital Campaign
The capital campaign, the largest and most ambitious campaign in the museum’s history, will support three main goals: the renovation of the museum’s landmark facility; the development of the Online National Design Museum; and the growth of the endowment. The capital campaign will raise $33 million for the renovation of the museum and $10 million for endowment funds to support general operating expenses, education programs, exhibitions and collections.
The $10 million endowment will further strengthen Cooper-Hewitt’s financial foundation, which has seen earned and contributed income increase from $5.1 million to $8.7 million between FY 2000 and FY 2006. This 69 percent increase has enabled Cooper-Hewitt to reduce its reliance on federal and trust subsidies from 46 percent to 34 percent of the total budget.
Costs associated with collection care and management, visitor amenities and budget refinement led to an increase of the original $35 million campaign goal announced in May 2006.
“The board and staff of Cooper-Hewitt have made great strides in the leadership of this important museum, both within the Smithsonian Institution and in the field of international historic and contemporary design,” said board chairman Paul Herzan. The museum’s plan to renovate the historic Carnegie Mansion will significantly and dramatically reposition the museum’s facilities to serve and accommodate the increased demands for space.”
In addition to major corporate support from Target, leadership gifts have been received from the following donors: Elizabeth and Lee Ainslie; Lily Auchincloss Foundation Inc.; Patricia and Phillip Frost; 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; Arthur and Janet C. Ross; and Esme Usdan and James Snyder. The Smithsonian Institution is supporting Cooper-Hewitt’s expansion with an additional $2.17 million, specifically for construction.
The Design Architect Selection Committee comprised of trustees, external advisors, staff and the executive architect, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP, unanimously chose Richard Gluckman to develop the overarching vision for the interior renovation of the landmark Andrew Carnegie Mansion.
“Richard Gluckman’s inherent design sensitivity and experience with introducing contemporary elements to historic spaces, makes him the ideal choice to realize the transformation of Cooper-Hewitt,” said Thompson.
“The opportunity to create contemporary exhibition galleries for Cooper-Hewitt is an especially gratifying prospect,” said Gluckman. “Designing spaces and environments that frame the ways in which visitors engage with exhibitions and experience the museum over time is both professionally challenging and personally rewarding.”
Through renovation and the re-programming of portions of the Carnegie Mansion and the adjacent Miller and Fox townhouses owned by the museum, the project will increase the museum’s total exhibition space from approximately 10,000 to 18,000 square feet. Major components of the project include the following:
• A spectacular, new 7,000-square-foot gallery will be created on the third floor. The gallery will overlook the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden and be the largest, most flexible gallery space in the museum.
• A new stairway will connect the second floor—which will be expanded with an additional 1,000 square feet of gallery space—to the third floor and will form a dramatic juxtaposition between 21st century design and the Georgian style of the mansion.
• The National Design Library will relocate to the Miller and Fox townhouses on 90th Street, creating a logical adjacency to the Master’s program in the history of decorative arts and design, and will offer elegant, quiet reading and study areas, full Wi-Fi access, reception and reference spaces, a workroom, open stacks and a rare-book room.
• The facilities for exhibition preparation will be expanded and upgraded to permit the swift installation of new exhibitions, thereby enabling the museum to remain open all 12 months, without long transition periods between exhibitions.
• A new facility off-site will provide the museum with the option to expand collection storage, plan for growth, improve care and conservation and digitize the collection.
The renovation program, which follows a two-year master planning process conducted by Beyer Blinder Belle, with input from the museum’s board, staff and the Smithsonian, will advance in stages, with the design development by Gluckman to be conducted in the coming months. The renovation of the Miller and Fox townhouses will begin in spring 2008, followed by the renovation of the Carnegie Mansion, which will begin in summer 2009.
To lead Cooper-Hewitt’s curatorial vision into the future, the museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Cara McCarty as curatorial director, effective July 10. In this role, McCarty will direct the museum’s curatorial vision, oversee its four curatorial departments, plan for collections management and acquisitions, and lead exhibition planning.
A distinguished expert in the field of architecture, design and decorative arts, McCarty has served as a curator, lecturer and author for more than 20 years. Since 1992, McCarty was the curator and head of the department of decorative arts and design at the Saint Louis Art Museum in St. Louis, where she established the museum’s 20th- and 21st-century design collection; strengthened holdings from the Renaissance to present day, acquired more than 400 works for the collection; and organized major design exhibitions. Currently, McCarty is actively involved in plans for the Saint Louis Art Museum’s forthcoming expansion. Prior to her tenure at the Saint Louis Art Museum, McCarty held several curatorial positions in the department of architecture and design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York for more than 10 years.
Online National Design Museum
The physical renovation will be paralleled by continuing virtual expansion of Cooper-Hewitt’s Web site, www.cooperhewitt.org. The Web site has exponentially increased the museum’s reach and will continue to serve as an education resource for educators, students, design professionals and the general public. To date the site offers more than 120 lesson plans for K-12 educators, aligned to national standards, which highlight design as a teaching tool across the curriculum.
Highlights of the new online offerings include access to featured works from the museum’s 250,000-object collection; expanded professional development programs for K-12 teachers, including additional accredited lessons plans; educational games; and a forum for design-school professors to exchange research. Cooper-Hewitt’s www.peoplesdesignaward.org Web site, launched in fall 2006 in conjunction with the National Design Awards program as a means by which the general public could cast their vote for their favorite design.