Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
While this New York institution has been around in one form or another since the end of the 19th century, it has a long and complicated history. It originally began as part of Cooper Union, a college in downtown Manhattan, but was later transferred to the Smithsonian. In 1970 it moved into its current home, a mansion originally constructed by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie. After being closed for three years beginning in 2011 for renovations, the museum reopened in 2014. Its name makes its focus clear: design, in a variety of forms—textiles, household and industrial products, jewelry, architecture, and more. Temporary exhibitions may spotlight individual creators, trends in design (like, for example, the vogue for all things Japanese in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), or particular objects. Since its reopening, the museum has put an emphasis on interactivity, with additions like computer-screen tables and a room where you can design your own digital wallpapers that are projected onto the walls. Admission is free for Smithsonian members, so bring your card if you are one.