About Cooper Hewitt

our mission

Cooper Hewitt educates, inspires, and empowers people through design.

The museum

Founded in 1897 by Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt, the granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum advances the public understanding of design through dynamic, interactive exhibitions, stimulating programming, and a broad array of online learning resources.

A 21st-century museum housed in New York City’s landmark Carnegie Mansion, Cooper Hewitt offers four floors of galleries dedicated to all disciplines of design, a permanent collection of more than 210,000 design objects fully digitized and available online, and a world-class design library. In addition to producing major special exhibitions, the museum continually refreshes the installation of objects from its collection of product design, decorative arts, works on paper, graphic design, textiles, wallcoverings, and digital materials. Interactive creative technologies invite visitors to freely explore the contents of the collection and experiment with the design process in collaboration with family, friends, and fellow visitors.

Cooper Hewitt aims to create provocative dialogues around design and amplify its historical continuum. A year-round program of lectures, conversations, and hands-on workshops provide access to the world’s leading design minds and engages design lovers of all ages in the design process. The museum’s annual National Design Awards is its largest and most visible education initiative. Honoring excellence, innovation, and lasting achievements in American design, the Awards are bestowed every fall at a gala dinner and ceremony in the museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden during National Design Week. Held in conjunction with the Awards, National Design Week celebrates design’s impact on all aspects of daily life. Free public programs for all ages are offered at the museum based on the vision and work of National Design Award winners, and organizations and institutions across the country host events in recognition of the importance of design.

Cooper Hewitt’s accredited Master’s Program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies, offered jointly with Parsons School of Design, is located on the museum campus and prepares the next generation of design curators, conservators, scholars, educators, and administrators; all of whom receive hands-on experience with masterworks of design and are fully integrated into the museum’s departments.

The recent renovation of the museum, its enclosed garden, and two adjoining townhouses merged state-of-the-art restoration and conservation of the campus with bold reimaginings of exhibitions and gallery spaces, visitor experiences, and creative technologies. The result is a museum that stands as a new paradigm for design thinking and problem solving.

Featured Image: Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution