Strategies against architecture: interactive media and transformative technology at Cooper Hewitt

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Sebastian Chan, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australia, Aaron Cope, Mapzen, USA

Published paper: Strategies against architecture: interactive media and transformative technology at Cooper Hewitt

Cooper Hewitt reopened at the end of 2014 with a transformed museum in a renovated heritage building, Andrew Carnegie's home on the Upper East Side of New York City. New galleries, a collection that was being rapidly digitized, a new brand, and a desire for new audiences drove the museum to rethink and reposition its role as a design museum. At the core of the new museum is a digital platform, built in-house, that connects collection and patron management systems to in-gallery and online experiences. These have allowed the museum to redesign everything from object labels and showcases to the fundamentals of a 'visit experience'.

This paper explores in detail the process, the decisions made – and resulting tradeoffs - during each stage of the process. In so doing it reveals the challenges of collaborating with internal and external capacities; operating internationally with online collaboration tools; rapid prototyping; and the distinct differences between software and hardware design and production.