Cooper-Hewitt Launches Object of the Day to Expand Collection Access

November 15, 2012
News Release

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum today announced the launch of Object of the Day, a new section of the website designed to foster ongoing engagement with Cooper-Hewitt’s collection while the museum is undergoing renovation ( Object of the Day features a new collection work daily and draws from more than 217,000 objects spanning 30 centuries in four curatorial departments—Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design, Product Design and Decorative Arts, Textiles and Wallcoverings—and the National Design Library.

“Object of the Day is critical to Cooper-Hewitt’s mission of advancing the public understanding of design and is integral to an institutional campaign to inspire and encourage participation with the museum’s resources leading up to and beyond the reopening,” said Caroline Baumann, acting director of Cooper-Hewitt. “Object of the Day is one of many ways the museum is reaching our audiences during the renovation, including the Cooper-Hewitt Design Center in Harlem and traveling exhibitions from Portland to Paris.”

The website section features original blog post entries written by staff curators, conservators, educators, as well as design enthusiasts—from teen design scholars to museum docents and Master’s students from the History of Decorative Arts and Design program. The blog format allows curators to offer a more personal, narrative approach to the objects. Works have been grouped thematically during the year and are posted on relevant holidays, milestones and anniversaries.

Object of the Day is the latest addition to a robust series of initiatives and pan-institutional partnerships undertaken to broaden digital access to the collection and transform the museum’s website into a leading global design research and educational resource. Coinciding with Object of the Day, the museum deployed a public prototype release of the new collection database, which allows for increased discoverability, stickiness and sharing of object works. Since the collection database’s recent launch, traffic to the collection is already up by almost a factor of three.

Earlier this year, Cooper-Hewitt announced the release of its collection dataset, becoming one of the larger contributors to Google Art Project and contributed collections to, an “art genome” tool.

Among the posts featured since the debut of the Object of the Day website are:

  • For Le Corbusier’s birthday, “Mauer” was featured, a wallpaper in the Wallcoverings department designed by the architect, which could be hung horizontally or vertically, and numerous patterns could be created by flipping or staggering the paper.
  • In celebration of National Color Day, an entry was posted on “De la loi du contraste des couleurs,” by French chemist Michel-Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889). This work in the National Design Library is a compendium of color design principles and one of the first systematic studies of color perception.
  • On Count Your Buttons Day, an entry highlighted four ivory-carved French buttons from the Product Design and Decorative Arts department. These buttons from the late 18th century are especially delicate in detail and tell a narrative in four scenes.
  • On Richard Meier’s birthday, an entry showcased the architect’s 1988 drawing for the Getty Center, which is among the holdings of the Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design department. Interested readers were directed to further information about the work, including a video with Meier speaking about the design of the complex as well as views of the Center’s construction.
  • During National Design Week, an entry recognized Rodarte, 2010 National Design Award winner in Fashion Design, and their work with Knoll Luxe. A moody collection of textures in bruised colors, the “Auden” work in the Textiles department realizes the often malevolent and mysterious quality of Rodarte’s fashions in contract fabrics.

The Object of the Day series is made possible in part by support from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.

Digitization of Cooper-Hewitt’s permanent collection is made possible by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Henry Luce Foundation, ARTstor and Deutsche Bank.

About the Renovation of the Carnegie Mansion

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. Diller Scofidio + Renfro serve as designers of the gallery and visitor experience, with Local Projects acting as participatory media designer.

About the Smithsonian’s 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.

# # #


Media Only

Laurie Bohlk

(212) 849-8420