So what does one do when it’s spring, but the temperatures are beyond chilly and the winds are whipping the little blooms right off the trees? You go to a museum for inspiration. It’s interesting, I’ve never been a museum person until I found my passion for photography. Somewhere along this journey of mine I heard someone say…museums will give you inspiration, and it doesn’t have to be just a photography exhibit. How true I’ve found that to be.
Ever since a couple of years ago when I walked by an amazing mansion on the Upper East Side here in Manhattan and learned that it was being transformed into a 21st-century museum, I’ve eagerly awaited the opening of…The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
But in full disclosure, it wasn’t the museum per se that I was eagerly waiting for…but just the opportunity to see inside of this home…as the beautiful copper and glass canopy at the main entrance certainly had me at hello.
Just imagine back in 1898 when the owner, Andrew Carnegie, decided to purchase property way north of where his peers were living. There he built this 64 room mansion for him and his wife to raise their daughter along with their 20 servants. Not to paint him as someone who flaunted his wealth…from what I’ve read he purposely moved to this area to escape the highfuluting behavior of the people living along Millionaire Row in the Upper East Side. Carnegie also bequeathed considerable amounts of money to his staff as well, as he considered them members of his family…not to mention what he did with his fortune by establishing over 2,500 public libraries and other institutions of higher learning.
I’d read up a little on the mansion prior to my visit. Articles that mentioned Carnegie’s insistence on modern technology…the first private residence with a structural steel frame…one of the first to a have a residential Otis passenger elevator…a sub-basement that housed a minature railroad track for a miner’s cart to get coal to the boilers to heat the house…one of the first to have air conditioning…the list goes on. Now imagine what Carnegie would think if he knew his home had turned into one of the most technologically advanced museums in the country!
Upon arrival you’re given an interactive pen to use on various touchscreen tables throughout the museum…making the museum experience much more interactive. As an example…the Immersion Room. Oh my…one can play designer and explore an amazing collection of wallpapers. By using the pen and touchscreen you can explore patterns and color, mix and match borders while projecting it all on the walls of the room. Who thinks of this stuff?? There’s so much…the Process Lab where you can design solutions through both hands-on and digital activities. Wow. Not only a museum, but it’s own on-site, degree granting master’s program making it the authority for the study of design in the United States.
Even the stairwells have design!
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and happy to be a member…and can’t wait to return to spend more time playing designer and learning more about the mansion transformation. Then not a block away…I came across the National Academy Museum & School that just happened to have an exhibit…self-portraiture…or as we know today…selfies! More on that visit another day. It was equally as awesome. You gotta love New York!
Hope you’re enjoying your weekend! gg