Cooper-Hewitt Completes $54 Million Capital Campaign, Hires Seb Chan as Digital Media Director

In the throes of a massive renovation, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is a hive of design news. Today the institution announced that it has raised the $54 million required for the overhaul, a collaboration between design architect Gluckman Mayner Architects and executive architect Beyer Blinder Belle that will increase Cooper-Hewitt’s exhibition space by 60 percent (to approximately 16,000 square feet), as well as reconfigure conservation and collection-storage facilities. Meanwhile, much progress has already been made: renovation is complete on the museum’s two townhouses, which house the—new and improved!—National Design Library, the master’s program in the history of decorative arts and design, and administrative offices. Now comes the main event: renovating the Carnegie Mansion, a task that entails historic preservation (including restoring the exterior masonry and freshening up the wrought-iron fence) and is aiming for LEED certification. When the museum reopens in 2013, visitors will discover a spectacular, new third-floor gallery where the library used to be, as well as expanded and restored galleries on first and second floors.

“It is thrilling to see our vision for Cooper-Hewitt’s redesign becoming a reality,” said Bill Moggridge, director of the museum, in a statement issued today. “Restoring and transforming the Carnegie Mansion and elevating and expanding the museum’s online user experience will broadly increase access to the museum’s rich resources, scholarship, and collections.” Renovation on the digital front will be masterminded by Aussie tech guru Seb Chan, the newly appointed director of digital and emerging media. He comes to Cooper-Hewitt from the the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, where he brought the museum’s collection online, integrated digital content production into everyday practices, and pioneered the use of mobile devices, QR codes, and iPads to deliver gallery experiences. Chan names “increasing public access while communicating the important role of design in building a better world” as among his top priorities for Cooper-Hewitt. Tonight founder and hostess with the mostest Laurel Touby opens her home for a party to welcome Chan and toast to successful expansion in the physical and virtual worlds.