The Smithsonian Institution

How is Cooper Hewitt part of the Smithsonian Institution?

Founded in 1846 after a gift from British scientist James Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution now operates as 21 museums, as well as research centers and a zoo. Cooper Hewitt represents the Smithsonian’s design collection and is one of only a few Smithsonian museums located outside of Washington, DC.

Return to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum history.

About The Smithsonian Institution

Sunny exterior view of the Smithsonian Castle, in brown brick with numerous towers, against a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

After receiving funds from Smithson, the US government established the Smithsonian Institution for the diffusion of knowledge and the development of a national identity in the 19th century.

Cooper Hewitt + The Smithsonian: Becoming the Nation’s Design Museum

Photograph of a museum exhibition of geometric structures in a room with brown woodwork.

In 1976, the museum opened as Cooper-Hewitt, having been adopted by the Smithsonian Institution and given a home in the Carnegie Mansion.