Caroline Baumann
Museum Director

Caroline Baumann

Director, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Caroline Baumann is the director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. Baumann oversees the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.

Baumann was appointed director in 2013, after serving the museum in various leadership positions for 12 years. During her tenure, Baumann has significantly advanced Cooper Hewitt’s mission to educate, inspire and empower people through design.

Baumann’s major initiatives include the restoration, modernization and expansion of the museum’s home in the landmark Carnegie Mansion; LEED Silver certification for the museum; a newly expanded and reimagined installation of Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection; the development and implementation of award-winning, interactive museum technologies and exhibitions; the creation of Design in the Classroom, a free national design education program for students K–12; the mass digitization of the museum’s permanent collection; and the opening of an 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility for the study, conservation and safe storage of Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection.

Baumann spearheaded the museum’s most ambitious capital campaign to date, which raised nearly $91 million toward the transformation of the nation’s design museum into a dynamic, global resource for the public understanding of design.

From 1995 to 2001, Baumann held several leadership positions at The Museum of Modern Art, where she raised funds and awareness for the museum’s Yoshio Taniguchi building project. Before that, she was director of development for The Calhoun School in New York City.

She earned a master’s degree in medieval art from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and a bachelor’s degree in the history of art and French literature from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Baumann is a member of the Royal College of Art USA, a NYC Landmarks50 Alliance member, a member of the Dwell On Design New York Advisory Board and a member of the Municipal Arts Society’s Design First Advisory Committee.

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