Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

March 12, 2024
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Cooper Hewitt museum exterior

Director Maria Nicanor
Total Full-Time Employees 86
Approximate Number of Artifacts/Specimens 215,000
Visits (2023) 153,000


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 215,000 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 more than 30 centuries in five curatorial departments—Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design, Product Design and Decorative Arts, Textiles, Wall Coverings and Digital—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 landmarked 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.. 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.  

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 encourage visitors to explore the collection digitally on ultra-high-definition touch-screen tables.


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 10 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. The 25th anniversary of the National Design Awards will be celebrated in spring 2025.

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Laurie Bohlk