The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has been housed in the landmark Andrew Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue since 1976. Built between 1899 and 1902, the 64-room house is an impressive object of historical design itself, the perfect building to house the only collection in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.
With a permanent collection that includes everything from wall coverings and textiles to product design and decorative arts, the museum is a must-stop along Museum Mile for design aficionados and the design-curious. A great destination for families, current exhibitions include such child-friendly exhibits as Wall Stories: Children’s Wallpaper and Books, featuring works from the permanent collection that explore the relationship between wallpaper and books created for children since the 1870s.
Programming at the museum is particularly hands-on and educational, including events such as the Teen Design Fair, internships for high-school students, and a master’s program affiliated with Parson’s The New School for Design. But for those just interested in a world-wide journey through historic and contemporary design, treasures are found within these walls.
And while you’re there, ask about one of the most intriguing (and controversial) pieces in the collection—an unsigned drawing, Design for a Candelabrum, purchased in 1942 and identified some 60 years later as drawn by the hand of Michelangelo.
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Information
- Public Transportation: Excellent (routes include the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 subways and Fifth and Madison Avenue buses)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday noon–6 p.m.; garden entrance on 90th Street open May–September (weather permitting)
- Admission: $15, students and seniors with ID $10, Smithsonian Institution members and children under 12 free
- Tours: Free daily tours last approximately 45 minutes. All tours begin in the Great Hall on the main level of the museum
- Membership: Individual membership is $75 annually and entitles members to unlimited free admission for one person to the National Design Museum and Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, invitations to exclusive members’ exhibition previews, programs and events, and access to the Design Resource Center, including Drue Heinz Study Center for Drawings and Prints, Henry Luce Study Room for American Art, Doris and Henry Dreyfuss Memorial Study Center, and the National Design Museum’s Design Archives. It also includes discounts on parking and purchases at selected Manhattan design establishments and a subscription to Smithsonian magazine. Also offered is a national/international membership of $55/annual for individuals living beyond a 150-mile radius of New York City, which includes all benefits of individual membership. Student and senior memberships are offered at $50.