Inside a NYC museum’s radical $81 million reboot


Caroline Baumann, the director of New York City’s newly-refurbished and reimagined Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, says she never wants to hear, “Cooper what?” again. And after overseeing an $81 million transformation into a cutting-edge digital showcase that melds three centuries worth of technology and art, she may not have to.

The Cooper Hewitt, perhaps best known in decades past for the Victorian era opulence of the 113-year-old Andrew Carnegie mansion it calls home, is now basking in the global fascination with the marriages of form and function that catapulted companies like Apple [fortune-stock symbol=”AAPL”]to success. Long lines for museum exhibitions and education programs several years ago made a 60 percent expansion of the gallery space a necessity, Cooper Hewitt officials said.

The three-year renovation that followed ended up doing more than that: Cooper Hewitt has been widely praised by critics for pioneering participatory visitor experiences and immersion in…

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