Cooper Hewitt’s Permanent Collection

What’s in the museum’s permanent collection and how did it get here?

Buttons and stuff.

Originally conceived of as a decorative arts collection, treasuring European works from the 18th century and earlier, Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection has grown to span 30 centuries with works of both historical and contemporary design in both physical and digital forms. Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt sought to collect decorative arts, such as textiles, wallcoverings, furniture, and metalwork, and now Cooper Hewitt champions disciplines such as graphic and industrial design, as well as work focused on social justice and environmental sustainability.

Return to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum history.

Collection Site

An orange chair shaped like a spinning top silhouetted against a white background.

Cooper Hewitt’s entire permanent collection has been digitized and is available to peruse and study online.

Cooper Hewitt Short Stories

Detail of a painting of a blue sky obscured by orange and gray clouds.

Cooper Hewitt Short Stories is a blog series that highlights important acquisitions to the collection, as well as key figures that contributed these gifts and shaped the museum’s development.

Object of the Week

Detail of a textile with white, blue, yellow, and red transparent circles overlapping against a dark background.

Object of the Week was a blog series (originally Object of the Day) written by Cooper Hewitt’s curators, graduate fellows, and contributing researchers and scholars. Posts presented research on a single object from the museum’s collection. (The series was published from 2012 to 2020.)

Collection Highlights

Textile with a black foliate pattern against an orange and yellow background.

Organized by Cooper Hewitt’s collection curators and updated periodically, Collection Highlights focus on important themes and media represented in the collection.