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The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, a subsidiary of the Smithsonian Institution, is the United States' national museum of design history and contemporary design and the only museum in the U.S. whose collection is solely focused on design. The museum is located in the former Andrew Carnegie Mansion at Fifth Avenue and East 91st Street, part of Manhattan's famed Museum Mile. In addition to its permanent collection and regular exhibits, the museum presents the annual National Design Awards in more than ten categories, "celebrating the best in American design." The Museum also offers a Master of Arts program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design in cooperation with Parsons School of Design.
The collection of decorative arts and drawings founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor, and Sarah Hewitt, the granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper, and daughters of Abram S. Hewitt, Mayor of New York in 1887-88, the Museum was initially part of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
The main museum building is the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, completed in 1903, a National Historic Landmark. Andrew Carnegie, the American steel magnate and philanthropist, lived there until his death in 1919, and the neighborhood in which the museum is located became known as Carnegie Hill. The Carnegie Corporation gave the house and property to the Smithsonian in 1972, and the modern incarnation of the Museum opened there as a Smithsonian Institution in 1976.
In 1995, the building was renovated to improve the study center and handicapped access following a re-branding and re-naming the previous year. The interior was redesigned by the architectural firm, Polshek and Partners, headed by James Polshek in 2001.
The Museum contains more than 250,000 objects ranging from Shang Dynasty bronzes to the present; it is organized into four curatorial departments: Applied Arts and Industrial Design, Drawings and Prints, Textiles, and Wallcoverings. The museum also contains a research library containing 60,000 volumes. Among its holdings the Cooper Hewitt possesses a Michelangelo drawing for a seven-branched candelabrum. It was identified in the Museum's drawings collection by Sir Timothy Clifford, director of the National Galleries of Scotland, while on a sabbatical at the museum in April 2002.
The collection also includes a library, archives, product design and decorative arts, drawings, prints, graphic design, and textiles and wall coverings.
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