Cooper Hewitt to Reopen on December 12th

Posted in exhibitions, museums by Editor on December 3, 2014


With the newly renovated Cooper Hewitt opening December 12th, you’ll have to visit the museum’s website to make sense of it all, everything from a specially commissioned typeface (Cooper Hewitt, which you can download for free here) to an interactive pen. I’ve noted one exhibition below, but presumably there are lots of eighteenth-century attractions. CH

From Cooper Hewitt:

vllg_CooperHewitt-NewsCaroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (formerly Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum), has announced plans for the opening of the renovated and restored Carnegie Mansion and the 10 exhibitions that will inaugurate the revamped and expanded gallery spaces. The nation’s only museum devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design, Cooper Hewitt will open its doors to the public on Friday, December 12. The museum will boast 60 percent more gallery space to present its important collection and temporary exhibitions and will offer an entirely new and invigorated visitor experience, with interactive, immersive creative technologies.

Cooper Hewitt’s renovation provides the opportunity to redefine today’s museum experience and inspire each visitor to play designer before, during and after their visit. Visitors will explore the museum’s collections and exhibitions using groundbreaking technologies that inspire learning and experimentation. This new participatory experience is specifically designed to engage all audiences—students, teachers, families, young children, designers and the general public.

All visitors will be given a newly developed interactive Pen to collect and create. They will be able to digitally collect design objects on view, as well as additional objects from the ultra-high-definition interactive tables. Visitors will become designers in their own right by creating their own designs with the Pen. Symbolizing and embodying human creativity, the Pen is a key part of every visitor’s experience. With it, they will be able to record their visit, which can be viewed and shared online and supplemented during future visits. . .

The largest initiative in Cooper Hewitt’s history, the renovation and expansion of the entire campus on New York’s Museum Mile—the Carnegie Mansion, Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden and the museum’s two townhouses on East 90th Street—have been achieved through a successful $91 million capital and endowment campaign.

“With four floors of exhibition galleries that can now stay open 12 months of the year, free garden access, extended garden and café hours, an inviting new street entrance and the digitization of our collections, Cooper Hewitt will reach a broader audience and be more accessible than ever before,” said Baumann. “We have created a 21st-century museum that will bring our collections to life and make design even more relevant and exciting to today’s audiences, while continuing to respect the history of this museum and the integrity of the much-treasured Carnegie Mansion.”

In addition to Cooper Hewitt’s physical transformation, the museum now has a new name, graphic identity, website and custom typeface. Formally the “Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum,” the museum has been renamed “Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum,” emphasizing the museum’s heritage. The museum has taken on a bold new graphic identity designed by Pentagram and the typeface “Cooper Hewitt” designed by Chester Jenkins of Village [available for free download here; see Michael Silverberg’s discussion here] . . . .

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About The Models & Prototypes Gallery:

Staircase model, France, late 18th century; Joined, bent and carved pear, wrought brass wire; 75 x 67.3 x 67 cm (29 1/2 x 26 1/2 x 26 3/8 in.); Gift of Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw, 2007-45-11; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Photo by James Hart © Smithsonian Institution

Staircase model, France, late 18th century; Joined, bent and carved pear, wrought brass wire; 75 x 67.3 x 67 cm (NY: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; photo by James Hart)

This new second-floor gallery will be home to rotating installations showcasing the important role of design models and prototypes. For the opening installation, the gallery will present the exceptional 18th- and 19th-century models of staircases and some significant architectural models donated to Cooper Hewitt by Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw (16 models altogether with four accompanying drawings).

The models represent a range of design styles and techniques, but most of the staircase models were designed in the compagnonnage tradition. Compagnonnage, meaning ‘group of companions’, is a type of design practice that combined formal study with practical training from masters. Apprentices honed their skills in a workshop during the day, taking courses in the art of geometrical drawing and design in the evening, living together in a boarding house. First, concepts were taught, then the handiwork, both of which became increasingly sophisticated. Each successful member made a ‘tour de France’, working and studying under masters in major cities. At each stage of the learning process (acceptance, reception, mastership), apprentices created models, leading them to become masters of their craft and design. Most of the staircase models produced in this tradition were made by masters of woodworking—joiners, cabinetmakers, and/or carpenters.

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