In 1897, two extraordinary young women opened to the world the result of almost a decade of their work and efforts: a museum dedicated to the study of decorative arts and design, housed at Cooper Union in New York City. Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt, granddaughters of famed industrialist Peter Cooper, 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. Download the brochure to read Sarah & Eleanor’s story.

Sarah Hewitt, ca. 1890–92, and Eleanor Hewitt, ca. 1888. Collection of Anna Engesser Parmee.