THE NEW COOPER HEWITT: After an extended period of renovation, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is back. On Friday, the Upper East Side institute will reopen to the public following a three-year closure. During a press preview on Tuesday, the museum’s directors unveiled the new look, which amounted to $91 million in renovations. “We are a museum of design and we recruited a dream team of designers to design the new Cooper Hewitt,” said museum director Caroline Baumann. Baumann noted that the museum now boasts 60 percent more gallery space, and space for its permanent collection has increased fivefold.
To celebrate the new interior, the museum will open with 10 exhibitions across four floors. The exhibitions juxtapose the historic nature of the mansion (a former home of Andrew Carnegie) by fully employing new technology and interactive tools. On the ground floor, a “Process Lab” features an industrial-size 3-D printer, as well as several stations where guests are encouraged to invent problem-solving tools out of random objects — including whatever they have in their bags. Upstairs, an “Immersion Room” hosts a large touchscreen display through which guests can explore the collection’s extensive collection of wall coverings and project them, full-scale, onto the room’s walls.
On the third floor, previously closed to the public, a walk-through was installed. Comprised of household tools suspended in mid-air, the “Tools: Extending Our Reach” exhibit, which, in addition to more than 175 historic tools total, features a live feed of the sun transmitted by an orbiting satellite.
Additional novel features include a new welcome desk and giftshop, as well a café area operated by Tarallucci e Vino.