March 1, 2005
Recent articles in The
New York Times and the Washington
Post reported on a master plan by the Manhattan architecture
firm Beyer Blinder Belle for the expansion of the Smithsonian
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. The museum is housed
in the landmark Carnegie mansion, along Museum Mile on Manhattans
Upper East Side. The master plan reportedly calls for building
three new floors approximately 60 feet below ground.
But according to Jennifer Northrop, the museums communications
director, there are still no definite plans for an actual
expansion. Says Northrop, We are still at the very early
stages of an analysis of the feasibility of an expansion.
The Cooper-Hewitt bills itself as the only museum in the
United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary
design. It was founded by the Smithsonian Institution, which
acquired the 64-room Georgian mansion in 1972 and hired the
architect Hugh Hardy to convert the building into a museum.
But currently, the museum has only has only 8,000 square feet
of gallery space. Most of the rest of the building is devoted
to a library, research facilities and administrative offices.
The space constraints hamper the museums operations.
It is no secret we dont enough exhibition space
and we have to close for a couple of weeks between exhibitions
which is a significant loss of revenue, says Laurie
Olivieri, the museums press manager, adding that in
many cases, the museum doesnt have enough space to take
traveling exhibitions from other institutions.