Ready for Reinvention, Cooper-Hewitt Taps Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Local Projects

(Photo: Elizabeth Felicella)

The countdown is on to the 2014 reopening of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. The $64 million expansion project is moving right along, with Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle collaborating to increase exhibition space by 60 percent as well as reconfigure conservation and collection-storage facilities, as the museum attracts visitors to its off-site exhibitions (don’t miss “Graphic Design—Now in Production,” up through September 3 on Governors Island) and new online shop. As if you needed more reasons to look forward to the redesigned Cooper-Hewitt, the museum recently selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design the gallery and visitor experience. Media design firm Local Projects has been tapped to develop engaging ways to access digital content at the museum and remotely.

“This project gives Cooper-Hewitt the opportunity to reinvent itself, to rethink museum conventions and the entire museum ‘visit,’” said associate director Caroline Baumann in a statement issued by the museum. “We’re delighted to be working with DS+R and Local Projects in creating a distinctly contemporary vision that will serve as a model for a new type of museum.” Look for Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s exhibition installations—conceptualized and created with museum staff—to highlight the design process through interactive components. Meanwhile, Local Projects is charged with developing digital strategies that will transform the museum visit from passive to participatory. “Cooper-Hewitt will elevate our understanding of design and deepen the power of design through engagement,” said Jake Barton, principal of Local Projects (and a finalist for the 2006 National Design Award in Communication Design). “Visitors will investigate the collection, share innovations, with each other and create design ideas.”