Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

April 11, 2022
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Cooper Hewitt museum exterior

Director Maria Nicanor

Total Full-Time Employees 86

Annual Budget FY 2020 $15.4 million (does not include facilities maintenance, security, contracting, human resources and other services provided centrally by the Smithsonian)

Approximate Number of Artifacts/Specimens 215,000

Visits (2019) 264,000


Founded in 1897, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has been part of the Smithsonian since 1967. The museum’s dynamic, innovative exhibitions, education programs, master’s program, publications and online resources inspire, educate and empower people through design. Steward of one of the world’s most diverse and comprehensive design collections—over 210,000 objects that range from an ancient Egyptian faience cup dating to about 1100 B.C. to contemporary 3D-printed objects and digital code—Cooper Hewitt welcomes everyone to discover the importance of design and its power to change the world.


Cooper Hewitt’s international collection contains more than 215,000 objects spanning 30 centuries in four curatorial departments—Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design, Product Design and Decorative Arts, Textiles and Wall Coverings—and is supported by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library and archives with more than 90,000 volumes, including 5,000 rare books.


Housed in New York City’s landmark Carnegie Mansion, Cooper Hewitt offers four floors of galleries dedicated to all disciplines of design. In addition to producing major special exhibitions, including the renowned Design Triennial, the museum continually refreshes the installation of objects from its collection of product design, decorative arts, works on paper, graphic design, textiles, wallcoverings and digital materials. Interactive creative technologies invite visitors to freely explore the contents of the collection and special exhibitions. Cooper Hewitt exhibitions regularly travel across the country and the world.

Education and Research

Cooper Hewitt’s extensive education programs encourage students, educators, families and adults to embrace design thinking and engage in creative problem solving. Three levels of immersion provide learners of all design backgrounds with paths to design fluency. 

Also a center for scholarly and applied research, the museum provides professional development and museum training to students through a graduate-level program in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies conducted in partnership with Parsons School of Design. The program, based at Cooper Hewitt, emphasizes object-based teaching, using the museum’s collections.

Digital and Emerging Media

Cooper Hewitt knits digital into experiences to enhance ideas, extend reach beyond museum walls and enable greater access, personalization, experimentation and connection. Interactive galleries throughout the museum’s four floors encourage visitors to explore the collection digitally on ultra-high-definition touch-screen tables and draw their own designs in the Immersion Room. 

Launched in spring 2019, the Interaction Lab is a space of inquiry and experimentation and is designed to keep pace with emergent technology while remaining grounded in data-led audience insight. 


The museum publishes catalogs of its collection and exhibitions, as well as independent publications related to the museum’s resources. Fully illustrated catalogs accompany most major exhibitions. All titles are available in print, with select titles for sales as e-books. 

National Design Awards

Launched at the White House in 2000, the awards program recognizes design innovation and impact in nine categories, celebrating design as a vital humanistic tool with the power to change the world. The awards are accompanied by a slew of programming, which highlight the work of the winners. This educational initiative makes great design widely accessible to the public through interactive events and programs for all audiences.

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Laurie Bohlk

(212) 849-8420

Ashley Tickle

(212) 849-2954