The museum director stands at the windows of his 14th-floor apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and surveys his domain from a distance. The view is spectacular, with Central Park lying below like a tapestry, unrolling lush shades of green all the way to the towers and manors across town. advertisement advertisement “Right there,” he says. “Do you see it? No?” To be honest, it’s a bit difficult to pick out. “Of course you see the Guggenheim,” he adds helpfully, motioning to that building’s distinctive round silhouette. “Now look to the left. There’s the museum’s roof.” He is pointing toward the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, housed in the stately Andrew Carnegie mansion on Fifth Avenue and 91st Street. And if it is not easy to figure out exactly where it stands, it seems even more difficult to truly identify it–to describe not just its profile but its purpose, too. The Cooper-Hewitt has an identity that has long seemed to border on the schizophrenic. Its origins go back more than 100 years, to New York’s high society, when the museum began as a small collection that now amounts to more than 200,000 decorative-arts objects–wallpaper, fabric samples, cutlery, and much… Read full this story
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