Privacy and The Pen

White plastic parts with various pegs and holes on a black background

What the Pen collects

The Pen at Cooper Hewitt has been designed to allow you to visit the museum anonymously, whilst still providing you the opportunity to ‘save’ and later view what you have ‘saved’ or ‘collected’.

The Pen stores a timestamp and an ID of each object label you choose to ‘collect’ while you walk around the gallery. Because each Pen is paired only with your ticket, it does not know ‘who’ you are. The Pen only knows which ticket it has been connected to. This is the result of a series of specific design decisions to minimise and anonymize data collection wherever possible.

When you dock your Pen with one of our interactive tables, it sends only the data it has collected, and your ticket number to the table – allowing everything to be connected to your ticket for later viewing.

After your visit you can choose to store your visit more conveniently by creating an account. If you do this we will record your email address and other data you provide to us, however you may still keep your ticket permanently to access your visit without creating an account.

what the museum does with Pen usage data

Cooper Hewitt uses the aggregate data collected by the Pen to understand how visitors move through our physical galleries and interact with exhibition content.

If you choose to create an account and pair a visit to that account we may use aggregate data to make recommendations of new content and experiences from the museum to you.

We may also inspect data to assist in debugging and technical maintenance work.

We do not sell or share this data with any third parties.

All personally identifiable information (PII) is also kept securely in compliance with Smithsonian Institution privacy policies.

What is stored with your ticket

If you purchase your ticket at our admissions desk with cash or credit card, no identifying information is stored. All credit card information is only used for the moment of the transaction and is not stored.

If you choose to buy online and save on your admission then we require you to enter your credit card information, email address, and billing address to complete the transaction. Credit card transactions are performed securely by Element Payment Services. The museum only stores enough information to issue a refund if required, and create a user account on your behalf so that you can access your tickets later on.

Featured Image: The Free Universal Construction Kit, Free Art and Technology [F.A.T.] Lab and Sy-Lab.