Hate boring museums where all you do is wander from gallery to gallery in search of something that speaks to you or catches your eye? Sick of Van Gogh and Rembrandt, done with Léger and Miro?
I’m not. But in case any of you mentally said yes (at your private disclosure) to these questions, then I have an answer for you whenever your grandmother, parent, or pal feels the need to haul you off to some New York art institution for a day of culture: suggest visiting the Cooper Hewitt. Fresh (and, despite it’s location off Fifth, Park Avenue-style relaxed looking; think oxygen peel masquerading as a trip to St. Barth’s) from a facelift that took up a good chunk of the past decade, the Smithsonian CH Design Museum is back and better than ever. Inside the wood paneled mansion are multiple galleries and exhibitions filled with funky new technology and interactive features that let you craft anything from tables, lamps, and chairs to hats and wallpaper in a wide array of materials as long as you wait long enough for your turn at the smart-tables situated throughout the building.There’s a process lab where you can play with light, fabric and metal papers, a room filled with the latest medical inventions that will blow your mind (cue your mother’s vision of you as a successful neurosurgeon who dabbles in biomedicine on the side), and an unforgettable throwback station where the original designers of the ancient telephones you or your parents grew up using speak from the receivers about their creations.
Don’t skip the amazing room of artifacts from the Smithsonian’s giant collection hand-picked and artfully curated by my one of my favorite and oft-referenced authors and illustrator, Maira Kalman, with some interesting music accompanying it.
A note to skeptics: the first time I came I was overwhelmed and had trouble feeling inspired by all the pieces on display, whose origins seemed distant to me. On my second visit, which was today, I was revived, or my interest piqued, by the best new feature of all, the introduction of stylus wands which enable to you to conjure up any sort of drawing you’d like on the smart-tables but more importantly, help you add pieces all over the museum as well as your designs to your own private collection that has its own website.
Please tell me you’re enthralled enough to already purchase tickets online for this must-see. If not, I hope you will be when you check out my own collection, made with one of the stylus wands and available for viewing here. Feel free to comment below with questions and your thoughts. Enjoy!