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“What a Disappointment! Don't Bother Going.” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
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Full Day NYC Tour
Ranked #93 of 1,068 things to do in New York City
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Owner description: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. After a three-year renovation, the museum re-opened in December 2014 with exhibitions featuring a rich mix of design objects from our permanent collection, unique temporary installations, and dynamic interactive experiences. We also have an exciting calendar of events, including hands-on workshops, talks, and family programs.
New York City, New York
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20 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“What a Disappointment! Don't Bother Going.”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 December 2009

I am a graphic designer and my husband is a director of a museum with curatorial experience. We visited the Cooper-Hewitt the day after Thanksgiving 2009 -- we had never been to this museum before and were looking forward to it with great anticipation. I was hoping to see some cutting edge design (any medium) for inspiration in my work. We have visited many museums here in the U.S. and in Europe, but never have I been so disappointed with a museum experience. First, we ended up walking around the block because it was not clear where the entrance to the museum was. No signage on 5th Avenue, and the one door we did see appeared unfriendly (bars on the door) and had no signage indicating "Museum Entrance." Luckily, we saw people leaving out of that door and figured it out. (Dear Cooper-Hewitt folks: wayfinding for your 1st time visitors sets the tone for their whole visit. Don't make people guess where to enter!) The first (and only) exhibit on the ground floor of the museum was the National Design Triennial. A few interesting items, including the historic industrial designs of the last century. But the exhibit design itself was poor and distracting. Items in one room were displayed on cheap metal shelving positioned too close with little room for aisles, making it difficult to move past other visitors. Even the label design was unattractive and confusing. And the iPod Touch with headphones was pointless and confusing. We returned ours after 10 minutes to the friendly young woman behind the desk who didn't care enough to ask why. In our experience, headphones cut us off from what we enjoy most about museums: quietly discussing the exhibit and the interpretation. And frankly what we were seeing and hearing on the Touch was uninteresting. Using technology because its cool is not a good enough reason to use it, and if you DO use it, it should be simple to use and be RELEVANT to the experience. We grabbed a beverage in the cafe before going to the second floor, and hoped for better things. Again disappointment. Okay I understand the whole "green" trend and how important it is, but the second floor exhibit was pretentious, bordering on ridiculous. Perhaps the exhibit sponsor (Nature Conservancy) had something to do with the self-important tone that permeated that exhibit?? Disappointing. We left dumbfounded how such a magnificient building could be ignored (no interpretation about its history, decoration, etc.), and why anyone would waste their time looking at what was there. We probably won't be back, and highly recommend you don't waste your time and money.

2 Thank simonelegare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Pretentious. Boring. Have I Already Said Pretentious?”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 August 2009

The Carnegie Mansion, a delightful house where the Cooper-Hewitt is situated, was partially disfigured to show their collections. But which collections? Right now, what we have is an exposition on material research - INDUSTRY - not Design.

And the pretentiousness . . . You are almost ostensibly followed by employees of the Museum - too much of them (Indians, mostly - nothing (really!) against them, but their only apparent function is to make sure you do not touch anything - the signs are clear, why more?, do not photograph anything (already, plenty of signs) and to have affixed, to your clothes, an adhesive meaning that you have paid the $15 entrance fee. Pay and show the proof. I almost affixed mine to my forehead . . . ). They certainly know nothing about design . . .

The Shop was a deception, too. Lots of books which everyone in the field knows, all at inflated prices. Want to buy a decorative object or clothes or an accessory? Forget about it!

The second "star"goes for the only installation, on the glass room, where creative design was used.

This museum needs a change in direction if it pretends to be relevant again.

Right now, don't lose your time with them, NYC has lots of better design on it's streets to show. Free. And most of then you will be able to photograph, if desired

2 Thank NPFilho
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Antonio, TX
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“A must see for any design lover!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 May 2007

I'm an artist/graphic designer when I'm not working on web sites or programming. The combination of inspiring design and the abundant use of technology made my entire vacation. Their current show, the National Design Triennial, was a great look into design over the past few years. It was great to see works by toy companies, architecture firms and even the MIT Media Lab. Not to mention some incredible works on traditional mediums like printing on cloth. Highly recommended for the geeks and graphic designers who visit NYC.

1 Thank degefilter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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