Cooper Hewitt is bringing people back together through design.

Two people embracing, one, their back to us, wears a white shirt and has curly, dark hair, the other, facing us, is light-skinned with wavy, grey hair, photographed with a blurred background

2021 National Design Awards celebration. Photo: Agaton Strom

Two people raise glasses in celebration, one, turned away from us, has wavy red-brown hair and wears black, the other is light-skinned, bald with a cropped beard and wears a navy-blue suit

2021 National Design Awards celebration. Photo: Agaton Strom

A group of well-dressed people stand in a line in the Cooper Hewitt garden, they are posed in front of a grey stone wall and a green tree

2021 National Design Award winners. Photo: Agaton Strom

A group of well-dressed people standing drinking and talking in the Cooper Hewitt garden. There is a line of green trees behind them and part of the back façade of the Georgian-style mansion

2021 National Design Awards celebration. Photo: Agaton Strom

A group of four people stand in a circle smiling holding wine glasses, one in the center, their back to us, wears yellow, to their left is a medium-skinned woman, to her left is dark-skinned man, on the right is a light-skinned man

2021 National Design Awards celebration. Photo: Agaton Strom

In 2021, after months of being fully remote, we welcomed visitors back to campus with free admission for all.

A group of three people stand in an exhibition space discussing four mannequins placed on a raised white stage and dressed in brightly-colored and elaborately patterned dresses, jackets and headscarves

Contemporary Muslim Fashions. Photo: Liz Ligon

A medium-skinned man with short dark hair and glasses dressed in a purple t-shirt and grey trousers stands in a brightly lit conservatory next to a four-tiered filled book shelf, an open book in his hands

Willi Smith: Street Couture. Photo: Liz Ligon

A person with curly black hair dressed in a yellow coat stands in an exhibition space reading white text on a royal blue wall with a wall of four, brightly-colored, graphic posters advertising American airlines behind

Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer. Photo: Matt Flynn

And our expanded virtual programming continues to reach students, educators, creators, and users around the world.

Two children sit behind a desk looking at a laptop screen, one, on the right, is medium-skinned with shoulder-length black hair, the other is medium-skinned with short dark hair, in the foreground is a wheeled device with multi-colored wires.

Design Camp. Photo: Scott Rudd

Screenshot of a video call on zoom with a rectangular grid five by five each filled with a person's head against a variety of backgrounds and small white text giving their name

2021 National Design Awards virtual event

With your support, we’re connecting people everywhere with the power of design. See how we’re making Cooper Hewitt open for all, together.


Illuminating the power of design in our everyday lives.

A collage of four images, in the top left is the illuminated exterior of a cholera treatment center, beneath is a figure putting on a multi-colored mask with a clear section over the lips, in the center a hand holds a lozenge-shaped green plastic device, to the right is a person wearing blue and white scrubs against a pink background

In December, Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics, co-curated with MASS Design Group, opened to critical acclaim. On view through 2022, the exhibition features the works of communities and individuals who came together in times of crisis to provide aid, design solutions, and push for change.


“The exhibition focuses on moments of resiliency and invention in response to pandemics, past and present.” – The Washington Post

Ten highly decorative eighteenth-century glass vessels arranged in a cluster, including small port glasses, long-stem wine glasses, squat covered vessels, likely for decanting, and tall goblets, photographed against a grey background

In 2021, Cooper Hewitt added a range of new objects to its permanent collection, including these examples of eighteenth-century Dutch glassware, the generous gift of Beatrice Taplin. The museum continues to digitize its collection, enabling audiences everywhere to discover and explore more than 215,000 historical and contemporary objects spanning 30 centuries.

Yellow front-cover of an activity book with a dark-skinned, cartoon child mid-jump dressed in blue trousers, red shoes and a white t-shirt, their left arm raised clasping a white pencil in their fist, in the background are high-rise buildings

21,000FREE BOOKSdistributed across 24 states

Design Around Town, the second edition of Cooper Hewitt’s design activity book, was published in both English and Spanish. This interactive story is a free resource for young designers to explore their surroundings, understand the role of design in everyday life, and create their own designs.


Connecting the public with design thought-leaders.

1,100ATTENDEESat virtual symposium

Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling, a virtual symposium co-organized with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, brought together academics, designers, critics, artists, and others to share new perspectives on fashion and the African American experience.

25COUNTRIESrepresented among National Design Month participants

In October, Cooper Hewitt celebrated National Design Month by connecting members of the public with the 2021 National Design Award winners through free virtual programs. Hundreds of people participated in talks, workshops, and career fairs with the winners—and more than 30,000 engaged with additional learning resources, short films, and more.

“Virtual programs like these…nurture my love of learning and feed my curiosity. Thank you!” – National Design Month program participant

Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands is Cooper Hewitt’s feature documentary about Studio Rael San Fratello’s work to connect contemporary technology with the legacy of pottery-making and adobe architecture in the southwest United States. It premiered at the Architecture and Design Film Festival in November with free virtual screenings and conversations, open to all.


Empowering rising designers to ideate and collaborate.

Collage of nine photographs of student participants in Design Hive, the students are of mixed races and genders and have picked a variety of backdrops, including an American flag, a white-tiled wall, grass, book shelves and a city-scape

This was the inaugural year for Design Hive, a program designed by students, for students. Young designers aged 16–22 are invited to dive into the museum’s exhibitions, collections, and resources aand develop their own collaborative projects. Participants receive a stipend and work with design practitioners and museum staff across departments and disciplines.

“It’s really innovative to bring young people [together]…and understand that their thoughts and ideas are valuable and integral to creating an inclusive space.” – Dahlia Locke, student and program architect

100+SUBMISSIONSin response to the open call

Cooper Hewitt’s Interaction Lab launched Activating Smithsonian Open Access (ASOA), an open call for proposals to create engaging interactive experiences with 2D and 3D objects in the Smithsonian Open Access dataset. Seven finalists received funding and support to develop their ideas and presented their prototypes in August for the public to use and test.

“…One of my highest priorities as Secretary is to create a truly virtual Smithsonian. […] Activating Smithsonian Open Access helps show what this path forward might look like.” – Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian

Animated GIF for the National High School Design Competition of a yellow rectangle with a small yellow heart beating that has multiple, brightly-colored lines and small dots growing from it, like an explosion

815ENTRIESfrom 97 high schools

The 2021 National High School Design Competition challenged students around the country to design a healthier world for all. Three finalists were selected to participate in virtual mentoring workshops with design experts and presented their final designs to a panel of judges.

“Through the Cooper Hewitt program, I learned about a college major that incorporates design. In some way, I want to incorporate it into my career.” – Aditi Jha, member of the winning team


Thank you for helping make Cooper Hewitt open for all!