about

Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt were two sisters who established the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration in 1897. Granddaughters of famed industrialist Peter Cooper, they used their considerable means and impressive intelligence to amass a collection comprised of centuries of furniture, textiles, drawings, wallcoverings, and more—the basis of the collection now housed at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

This blog series chronicles the lives and work of Sarah and Eleanor, including their collecting pursuits, family travels, recreational activities, and social circle. From treatises on design education to generous gifts of decorative arts from prominent society friends to playful shenanigans at Ringwood Manor (the Hewitt family’s country estate), explore the lives and times of Sarah and Eleanor.

Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Carroll Beckwith and the Hewitt Sisters
In our most recent Short Story, we looked at the friendship between the Hewitt and Carnegie families, and how those relationships still shape Cooper Hewitt today. This month, a research mystery catches our eye. Recently, curatorial researcher Josephine Rodgers brought our attention to a lovely portrait of a woman given to the museum in 1931...
Composite image of two photographs. The left, a portrait of Peter Cooper. He is an older man with small glasses and a bushy white beard. He is pictured from the chest up, facing forward, and looking directly into the camera. On the right is a portrait of Andrew Carnegie. Also an older man, Carnegie has white hair and a white, groomed beard and mustache. He wears a three-piece black suit and a bow tie. He is pictured from the chest up, turned in three-quarter view, looking at the viewer.
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: The Hewitts & The Carnegies
In last month’s Short Story, Jodi Rodgers discussed the drawings of Robert Frederick Blum and the purveyance of American drawing through the Cooper Union Museum’s collection. This month, we address the “Who is Cooper?” and “Who is Hewitt?” and “Why Carnegie?” questions that often accompany introductions of Cooper Hewitt’s name and location. We investigate and...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Promoting American Art
In last month’s Short Story, we attended the weddings of Hewitt sister Amy Hewitt Green and that of her daughter Eleanor Margaret Green, who became Princess Viggo of Denmark. This month, researcher Josephine Rodgers discusses the introduction of American drawing into Cooper Hewitt’s collection through the work of Robert Frederick Blum. Margery Masinter, Trustee, Cooper...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: A Tale of Two Weddings
On last month’s Short Story, curator Sarah Coffin paraded us through the Gilded Age decadence that led to a substantial gift of decorative arts to Cooper Hewitt’s collection from Annie Schermerhorn Kane. Bells for a Royal Wedding in London will ring in a few weeks. We hope you enjoy our short story on two beautiful...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: A Formidable Inheritance from a Gilded Age
In last month’s Short Story, we feasted on dazzling jewelry designs from Cooper Hewitt’s collection. This month, Sarah Coffin, curator and head of product design and decorative arts, introduces us to Mr. and Mrs. John Innes Kane, donors of some of Cooper Hewitt’s most important decorative art pieces. Margery Masinter, Trustee, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Designs for Jewelry
In last month’s Cooper Hewitt Short Story, we roamed the halls of the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration in 1939, exploring past and present methods of collection display. This month, Julie Pastor, curatorial assistant at Cooper Hewitt, lavishes us with drawings of jewelry, many collected by the Hewitt Sisters, from the holdings...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Cooper Union in Black & White
In last month’s Cooper Hewitt Short Story, wallcoverings curator Greg Herringshaw introduced different styles of wallcoverings collected by the Hewitt sisters that are now housed in Cooper Hewitt’s expansive collection. This month, Forrest Pelsue, publishing master’s fellow in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies at Parsons Paris, takes us on a journey to 1939...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Hewitt Sisters Collect Wallcoverings
In last month’s Cooper Hewitt Short Story, we buttoned up with a rousing exploration of the history of the button as illustrated by Cooper Hewitt’s expansive collection. This month, we delve into the uniquely Cooper Hewitt collection of historical and contemporary wallcoverings. Greg Herringshaw, the museum’s curator of wallcoverings, outlines three key areas collected by...
Cooper Hewitt Short Stories: Button, Button, We’ve Got the Button(s)!
In last month’s Short Story, Emily Orr, Cooper Hewitt’s assistant curator of modern and contemporary design, wrote about the history of store window display.  In recognition of National Button Day on November 16, this month’s story celebrates the Cooper Hewitt collection of buttons. Margery Masinter, Trustee, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Sue Shutte, Historian at...