This page includes information on the digital initiatives undertaken by the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, ranging from handheld exhibition applications and educational technology to a website built on a Kenyan mobile-based crowdsourcing mapping platform.

Exhibition applicationsEdit

Design USA: Contemporary InnovationEdit


iPod touch exhibition application, 2x4 for Cooper-Hewitt

The museum commissioned 2x4 to create an iPod touch application for the Design USA: Contemporary Innovation exhibition, which ran from October 16, 2009–April 4, 2010. The application supplemented the exhibition content with audio and video. It also allowed visitors to tweet comments on objects that appeared in real time on Twitter, the museum website, and on screens throughout the galleries, thereby integrating the visitors’ experiences into the exhibition design. The review from The New York Times stated it was the only way to “truly see the show.”[1] According to a review linked to the MuseumMobile Wiki, it was the best application of its kind to date although there were drawbacks, among which was lack of availability as an iTunes download.[2] The reviewer wanted to be able to use the app outside the exhibition.

Set In Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & ArpelsEdit

IPad vcaCHM

iPad exhibition application, 2x4 for Cooper-Hewitt

The iPad application that 2x4 designed for the Set In Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition, which ran from February 18-July 4, 2011, was available as a free download from iTunes. The application included 65 high-resolution, scalable images from the exhibition of 250 objects, as well as additional text and video content (e.g., interview with exhibition designer, curator).[3] Users could also comment on and share content.

Exhibition open-network enterprisesEdit


The Design Other 90 Network website

The museum has created an open-network database in conjunction with Design with the Other 90%: CITIES. The Design Other 90 Network leverages social media technology to extend the concepts that inform the exhibition beyond the exhibition itself. It provides an international platform for designers and communities to share resources and connect with stakeholders.

Education technologyEdit

Arts Achieve is a pilot program in New York City public schools to increase success in the arts, made possible through an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant. The museum is one of five partner institutions contributing to the development of the program. The museum's role is to provide design expertise as well as "expertise on the innovative use of technology for education."[4] The digital team at the museum recently customized 129 iPads and deployed them as part of a package to area schools. Each package included three iPads pre-loaded with 90 applications, a wireless access point, a cable-free speaker/projector dock, a microphone, styli and cases. The school needs to provide an internet connection; all other technology related to the pilot program is contained in the package. The Digital and Emerging Media team uses AirWatch for mobile device, content, and application management, most frequently to monitor usage, push updates and troubleshoot any problems that arise.

The museum also provides over 425 K-12 lesson plans that can be searched, sorted, or browsed using faceted navigation. These lesson plans are supplemented with links to online design resources . The museum also appears to be in the early stages of launching a Wordpress /BuddyPress -based collaborative educational resource with groups, forums, blogs, and member profiles. The site is currently populated with placeholders.



Before and after: the e-commerce homepage

The museum's e-commerce site is currently a public beta as the result of recent redesign and rearchitecture. The closure of the museum building for renovation necessitated a strengthened e-commerce presence since there would be no brick-and-mortar sales until the 2014 reopening. The previous site, which originally launched in 2006, relied on several different inventory and content management systems and used Paypal for transactions. Updates were laborious and cart abandonment was significant, at approximately 90%.[5] In addition to improving cart conversion, the new e-commerce presence needed to provide the narrative, interaction, and recommendation that a sale associate might have provided within the in-store context.

The updated site uses COREsense, an integrated retail and e-commerce software that not only supports inventory tracking, content management, and transactions, but can also be used with the physical museum shop when the museum reopens.[6] The beta site layout shows more products at a

Before and after: e-commerce product detail page

glance and accommodates more in-depth descriptions on product detail pages. COREsense software also supports merchandising abilities to recommend products based on selected items. The site makes use of HTML text for improved organic search engine optimization, which is even more crucial with physical sales closed until 2014. The metatags "description" and "abstract" are used; the metatag "keywords" does not appear to be populated, perhaps influenced by the fact that Google does not use keywords in its web search ranking.

Not all products are exclusive to the museum, but all appeal to the design enthusiast. While the user can search by themes such as "play," "splurge," and "gift," there is no option to search by price, which appears to be a substantial oversight. A mobile-friendly site could also target top sellers and items specific to the temporary exhibitions to replace the lack of a physical shop in the widespread temporary galleries.

Design Week NYC websiteEdit


Design Week NYC, 2012

Design Week NYC is an centralized online source of information for all the events sponsored by numerous organizations during the International Contemporary Furniture Fair from May 19–22, 2012. The mobile-friendly site is built on the Ushahidi platform, which was originally developed to track violence after the 2007 elections in Kenya.[7] Ushahidi was also featured in the museum exhibition Design with the Other 90%: CITIES. The Ushahidi platform supports geo-spatial mapping, crowdsourcing and newsfeeds. Social media applications, such as real-time "check-ins," Twitter feeds, a designated hash tag, event profiles, and SMS integration demonstrate the influence of smartphone users on the site design, architecture and usability.

Although the site targets users "on-thego," there is no mobile version. The website functions fine on a smartphone, but it would be recommended to create a mobile version of the site for "quick links" to popular items, such as event schedules, comments, or the shuttle bus schedule.

National Design Awards: Interaction designEdit


NDA logo

The museum organizes and funds the National Design Awards (NDA), which The New York Times has called "the design world's Oscars."[8] were first awarded across various design disciplines—such as Architecture, Communication Design, Product Design and Fashion Design—in 2000. A new category, Interaction Design, was added in 2009. The award category recognizes the importance of this technology-based field, and serves to promote interaction design through the prominence of the awards.

Interaction Design winners:

2009: Perceptive Pixel, Inc. [9]

2010: Lisa Strausfeld [10]

2011: Ben Fry [11]

2012: Evan Roth [12]


  1. Smith, Roberta (14 January 2010). A Guided Tour in the Palm of Your Hand. The New York Times.
  2. Smith, Koven (29 January 2010). The iPod tour at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Koven J. Smith Dot Com.
  3. 2x4: Project: Cooper-Hewitt Van Cleef & Arpels iPad App. 2x4.
  4. Shelly, Katie (17 February 2012). Deploying 129 iPads to NYC Schools. Cooper-Hewitt Labs.
  5. Crapo, Jocelyn (12 March 2012). Rebooting retail – redesigning the Shop at Cooper-Hewitt. Cooper-Hewitt Labs.
  6. Integrated Retail Management Software Overview. COREsense.
  7. Ushahidi. Wikipedia. Retrieved on May 18, 2012.
  8. Green, Penelope (30 April 2009). Design for a New Reality. The New York Times.
  9. Perceptive Pixel, Inc.: National Design Awards 2009. Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
  10. Lisa Strausfield: National Design Awards 2010>Interaction Design. Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
  11. Interaction Design: Winner. Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
  12. Meet the 2012 Winners. Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
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