1. It Has an Architectural Pedigree – The Cooper Hewitt Design Museum is housed in what was once Andrew Carnegie’s private residence. Built in 1902, it was one of the first homes to have central heating and an Otis elevator. It was landmarked by the city in 1966, and donated to the Smithsonian by the Carnegie Corporation in 1972.
2. No Design is Too Small – The tiniest item in the Cooper Hewitt collection is a piece of fabric from the 13th Century that measures ¼ in. by ⅛ in.
3. The Snozzberries Really Do Taste Like Snozzberries – It may not be the lickable wallpaper from our Willy Wonka fantasies, but the collection does feature designer Michael Angelo’s scratch and sniff wallpaper, in the “Cherry Forever” scent.
4. It’s Got it’s Own Typeface – Typographer Chester Jenkins created a custom, open-source typeface for the museum, which is downloadable right here.
5. You can Print Your Own Museum at Home – Cooper Hewitt released 3D printer-ready renderings of the entire building, which you can download and remix freely.
6. You Can Search the Digital Collection by Crayon – This nifty exploration tool allows you to search for items in the Museum’s collection by color, as illustrated by Crayola’s rainbow of crayons. Our favorite: Radical Red.
7. You Can Log Your Entire Visit With a Smart Pen – With the help of Cooper Hewitt’s custom digital pen, you can save your favorite objects from the collection and the designs you make in the interactive exhibits to a custom website linked to your unique visitor id.
8. It Only Takes 5 Minutes to Redecorate – in the “immersion room,” – formerly Margaret Carnegie’s bedroom – you can change the wallpaper with just a few clicks. Choose from a gallery of classic designs, or create your own.
9. It Doesn’t Have Your Average Guestbook – During their time living at 2 East 91st Street the Carnegies were huge fans of dinner parties, but as hosts they had a peculiar rule for their notable guests to follow. Each guest was asked to sign his or her name on the tablecloth in pencil. Afterwards, the servants of the household would embroider these signatures, creating artifacts worth much more than a clean linen damask. Cooper Hewitt has two tablecloths in their collection.
10. At Cooper Hewitt, Code === Art In 2013, principals from the now-defunct app development startup Bloom gifted the code for their data visualization app “Planetary” to the design museum. In return, Cooper Hewitt developed a bold plan to integrate the code into their collection: They have made it open source. In the ever-changing world of digital language, Cooper Hewitt is one of the few museums working to preserve achievements in the evolving art of coding.
Catch Treasures of New York: Cooper Hewitt Sunday, June 28 at 6 p.m. on THIRTEEN.