The new Cooper–Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum focuses on Design as it is experienced, inviting each visitor to become a designer. Its objective was to grow their audiences to include families, kids and the curious rather then the converted, and invite them to learn about design by becoming designers. It was also to reinvent the Museum around creativity and participation.
Handing each visitor an digital pen is the exact opposite of most museums, inviting them to literally draw on the wall to create a vibrant dynamic environment of creativity and learning. Visitors become intrigued to understand what design is, how it works, and how designer's think as they sketch, doodle, solve and publish their own design ideas. The Pen becomes an icon that invites their creativity.
Education needs to be participatory and engaging in order to attract the attention and depth of engagement that kids deserve. We have created a series of experiences that entice people to understand design by making things, to learn by doing, all preserved during the Museum through the pen, and afterwards through an online relationship with the Museum.
The new Cooper–Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum takes place at the historic Carnegie Mansion at 91st Street and 5th Avenue in 60,000 square feet of Museum. It opened in December 2014.
On December 12th, the former Carnegie Mansion re-opened its doors as the new Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and invited visitors to explore, learn and create. Local Projects worked in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the Museum for over two years to create an all new visitor experience, focusing on a suite of interactive experiences that move from design thinking into a visitors’ own world of creativity.
“Play Designer" utilizes a digital pen that inspires learning by doing, inviting visitors to learn about design by designing and sketching their own objects, and allows them to be inspired by the vast Cooper Hewitt collection. The portable digital pen allows visitors to both design on the tables as well as to "collect' and "save" information or to build their collection at home for future use.
A custom algorithm developed by Local Projects allows users to draw gestural lines and pull up collection objects with similar line work, underscoring that design is a formal pursuit, and that the shapes we draw have a legacy and meaning.
The Immersion Room invites visitors to both project historic wallpapers, or create their own in full scale. Historic wallpapers are augmented by audio narrations from some of the best working designers, which then in turn inspire visitors own creations.
The touch tables also invite visitors to design through a suite of 3D modeling tools. Visitors can create everything from lamps, tables, chairs, hats to buildings. Designed to work with both experts and novices, the new Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum experience inspires visitors during the design process, and brings insight into design through the act of designing.
Other unique interactives are Mansion History, which uses archival photos to tell the story of the building as Andrew Carnegie’s former residence, as well as Gesture Match, which is part of the Beautiful Users exhibition on the first floor.
The intention is to provide tools to inspire another generation of designers.
Turned the museum experience into this co-creation experience... We felt like it really made design more accessible to everyone. The experience really wove through your entire journey through the museum.