Cooper-Hewitt Announces the Selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro as Exhibition Designer and Local Projects as Media Designer for 2014 Reopening

June 28, 2012
News Release

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The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum today announced the selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro as designers of the gallery and visitor experience for the reopening of the museum campus in 2014. Local Projects will act as participatory media designer and develop engaging ways to access digital content at the museum and remotely.

Cooper-Hewitt’s main facility, housed in the Carnegie Mansion, is undergoing renovation as part of a $64 million capital campaign that includes enlarged and enhanced facilities for exhibitions, collections display, education programming and the National Design Library, and an increased endowment. The expansion is a collaboration between design architect Gluckman Mayner Architects and executive architect Beyer Blinder Belle. The project also involves a program of historic preservation, working within preservation parameters established by Beyer Blinder Belle, and will aim for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

“It is because of their keen abilities to translate ideas and concepts into boundary-stretching design that Cooper-Hewitt selected DS+R and Local Projects as the ideal partners to help re-envision the design of its gallery, visitor and participatory digital experiences,” said Bill Moggridge, director of the museum.

“This project gives Cooper-Hewitt the opportunity to reinvent itself, to rethink museum conventions and the entire museum ‘visit,’” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the museum. “We’re delighted to be working with DS+R and Local Projects in creating a distinctly contemporary vision that will serve as a model for a new type of museum.”

DS+R will work with museum staff on the conceptualization, transformation and creation of immersive museum spaces and memorable visitor experiences. The various exhibition installations designed by DS+R will make design stories come alive with multiple interactive components focusing on the design process.

“It’s an exciting challenge to consider the display of Cooper-Hewitt’s extensive historic and contemporary design collection vis-à-vis 21st-century technology, new models of social interaction and the historic context of the Carnegie mansion,” said Ricardo Scofidio, partner of DS+R.

Local Projects will design innovative media and storytelling approaches to content delivery and ongoing visitor engagement, as well as novel ways of exploring the museum’s rich collections and designer resources. In order to enrich the visitor’s experience, pioneering digital strategies are being developed to enliven and transform the museum visit from passive to participatory.        

“Cooper-Hewitt will elevate our understanding of design and deepen the power of design through engagement,” said Jake Barton, principal of Local Projects. “Visitors will investigate the collection, share innovations with each other and create design ideas.” 

About Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Founded in 1897, Cooper-Hewitt is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications.

During the mansion renovation, Cooper-Hewitt’s usual schedule of exhibitions, education programs and events are being staged at various off-site locations, including the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center in Harlem, the Enid and Lester Morse Historic Design Lecture Series at the University Club, Bill’s Design Talks at WNYC’s Greene Space and the “Graphic Design—Now in Production” exhibition on view at Governors Island.

About Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Diller Scofidio + Renfro is a 100-person interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, visual arts and performing arts. The three partners—Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro—work collaboratively on the design of each project in the studio. Diller and Scofidio were awarded the MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship for integrating architecture with issues of contemporary culture. Recent and ongoing projects include the redevelopment of Lincoln Center and the High Line in New York, The Broad Museum in
Los Angeles, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Seasonal Inflatable Pavilion in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Image & Sound in Rio de Janeiro.

About Local Projects

Local Projects is a media design firm for museums and public spaces. By merging new technologies and ageless storytelling, Local Projects creates media-based experiences that are integrated into architecture and online spaces, and that connect people with the world and each other. Current and recent projects include the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Eisenhower Memorial, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Paley Center for Media, the New York Hall of Science and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.

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